MOSCOW - Last night I attended Book of the Year Awards which is presented by the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications. It was part literary event and part Vegas floor show. How many book awards have you been to that end with confetti canons? Let me not forget the show girls with Faberge egg head pieces and as well as several elaborate musical numbers staged between the book awards. This was of course a nationally televised event. Don't mistake my delight for sarcasm. It was a highly entertaining event. The juxtaposition of books on Stalin and 10 volume art books being celebrated in between song and dance numbers was a bit of a revelation. I say that recognizing from a cultural perspective, books and literature are prized and valued more highly by Russians in comparison to than I see in the US. Celebrating serious books in this way makes them more accessible to wider audience Which is never a bad thing.
I digress - I have been really impressed with the effort by organizers of the Russian participation that will be the focus of BEA's 2012 Global Market Forum program. The have brought over a serious contingent representing different parts of the US book industry to begin building relationships now that will make their participation in BEA the culmination of their efforts that will bear fruit opposed to pushing out wall of information and hoping that parts will stick. Some of the people here in Moscow that will be integral in the planning and programs that will take place at BEA include Peter Mayer of Overlook Press, John Silberstack - Trident Media, Steve Bercu of BookPeople representing the ABA and Peter Blackstock from Grove/Atlantic. These are just a few of the people here, but indicative of the effort being made that will produce a great program that will benefit Russian publishing as well as the partnerships they will form with US publishers.