I am in Buenos Aires attending the International Book Fair directors meeting. It is so hard to squeeze a trip like this just weeks before BEA, but it is also great to meet with show directors from Taipei, Beijing, Bologna, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Columbia, Leipzig, Salon du Livre and our wonderful hosts from Buenos Aires. We run very different events with unique issues, but we all share the question of what the future holds for book fairs as the rise of ebooks casts a long shadow over what that future will be and the role of book fairs in that future.
We had the great pleasure to hear from a publisher from Argentina that has a tradtional publishing house and launched a niche digital publishing company as well in 2009. It was encouraging to hear his experience using open source software to create a platform from scratch and has now published almost 100 books, selling through Amazon or using on demand printing to fill orders. His success is the long tail in real life. He can nimbly get books published at a much quicker rate the scale it as needed through his digital fulfillment options. He also still finds the role of the book fair very important and can not replace what you get from sitting and talking with peers face to face to learn and get inspiration. That is why I am in Buenos Aires 4 weeks before BEA, what you get from face to face can not be replicated or substituted.
As the painful memories of 2009 will not fade anytime soon, I have the sense BEA be starting point for a better time for business and the world of books, where growth and stability will be possible. I hope that I am right and the 1st corner we turn will be marked on the calendar as May 25-27 2010 at the Javits Center and all over NYC!