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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Question is: B2B or B2C

Not sure if my post title evokes the question that BEA is grappling with as we look forward for what BEA needs to be for a publishing industry that is undergoing a metamorphosis wrought by technology and the new platforms that come with that technology . BEA has had to evolve to keep pace and ahead of those changes in order to remain relevant for booksellers, librarians and publishers.  However, the essence of BEA will never change and that essence is books and their authors.  The value of BEA for publishers is for breaking out titles, while booksellers and librarians depend on BEA for discovering titles and the latest trends and technology impacting he industry.  More and more consumers are finding out what is happening at BEA and that is impacting books they are discovering.  That is being done by consumers through blog posts and what crosses over from the mainstream media but it has been without any support or resources directly from BEA.  That is not on purpose, because the fact is that BEA is a trade event - meaning it is solely for industry professionals in the world of publishing - as we view it internally - B2B.  

There is increasing value for engaging consumers directly while there is a growing appetite from consumers to know what is coming from their favorite authors and personalities that are writing books.  We think the time is coming for the publishing business to connect directly with consumers that we view as B2C.  BEA has begun to share our plans with BEA's Executive Advisory Committee, our association partners and will conduct research with our whole exhibitor base as well as some consumer focus groups.  This will not happen immediately, but are looking at 2013 to shift BEA to a Thursday - Friday - Saturday, leaving the trade portion exclusive on Thursday and Friday so the industry can continue to meet and conduct the B2B business that is inherent to BEA and open the doors on Saturday for consumers built around author events, but also allow them onto the show floor to look behind the curtain, see what new works from their favorite writes will be coming out like ComicCon does.  This will also give a day of exhibits on the weekend that small but vocal portion of librarians and booksellers miss. 

Nothing is baked and we have a ton of due diligence to conduct to insure that a BEA that includes consumers, is an event that serves the industry in the ways that were always viable as well is in a whole new and valuable way. 

257 comments:

  1. This is weird. I'm attended BEA 8 times, and have signed up for this year, already; so I remember when it was always held on Fri, Sat, Sun. I also remember when BEA traveled from NYC, to Chicago, LA and DC. I do wish the BEA would rotate to different cities, again. I know business needs to change and evolve to stay viable, but adding consumers seems crazy to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for writing Jan - we genuinely appreciate your continued support attending BEA. Our expectation is that your experience will not change at all with the format we are looking at (no different than Frankfurt, just more compact). It will be critical that we maintain the B2B element for this to work. We have found both with limited evidence and anecdotal evidence, consumers are seeking out what is happening at BEA and they are buying books because of it. Our poorly organize and never promoted BookExpoCast.com site that hosts BEA's video and podcasts had 500,000 downloads in 2011. We want to harness and serve those interests. Also - we are looking a bit further ahead (several years) at BEA going out of NYC every 4th or 5th year.

      Delete
    2. There is nothing "crazy" about it this is what I've been waiting for from the publishing industry and its partners namely: authors need to be front and center accessible to their fans. Yes fans. In order to sell more books the people reading them need more opportunities to connect with them. It's like music artists when they go on tour. But no one's pushing for more author exposure that give reader fans a chance to connect. Thanks BEA!

      Delete
  2. Perhaps it's part and parcel of the publishing segment in your market. I know that none of our publications and brands are in the BEA catalog, but in our case B3C and B2B issues are not primary concerns. But then again some of our titles have been in continously updated and published for over 150 years.

    For us it's less a matter of reaching our clients, but addressing newer content delivery channels, transparently, autonomously and efficiently.

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you see my other reply to Jan, the biggest priority in taking this course is to maintain and improve what BEA has delivered as a B2B event and that the B2C element should only enhance or expand what is possible at BEA.

      Delete
  3. Oh, I surely do hate to see this happen. BEA has always been about the industry, but by opening it up to the public, it will become all about the authors. That's great for consumers but not so great for industry people who care about the book itself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We hear you and it is paramount that the two B2B days remain in tact.

      Delete
    2. The industry has to change its attitude. Publishing books is really about the authors because without them guess what: NO BOOKS! And no books equals NO INDUSTRY!

      Delete
    3. We LOVE authors, of course. But this particular show is not an author show. Unless the show is in New York, publishers do not generally send editors to the show, but sales and marketing people. These folks are not generally in the business of commenting on manuscripts or making editorial recommendations.

      Delete
  4. My experience with Frankfurt and other shows open to the public is that the public basically is scrounging for free books and materials. With the exception of NY ComicCon during the first season, I've seldom found the public open to buying books at these kinds of shows. It also makes doing business during a day the public is invited very difficult (from a publisher's perspective). Once a prospective author insistently interrupted a key meeting I'd had scheduled. At Frankfurt, most publishing staff leaves those last couple of days the show is open to the public, and one or two stay to close down the booth. In short, little real business goes on. Maybe a special section of the show open to the public but not the main floor; maybe something marketed as book sale or bookstore for the public in conjunction with the show for a day or two?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...scrounging for free books and materials." This was my first concern, as well. I love the idea of a separate bookstore! (I also love the idea of BEA traveling from NY from time to time.)

      Delete
    2. Terri in WisconsinFebruary 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      I completely agree! With a public invitation, the Javits Center is going to be inundated with people for whom doing real business is not the main focus. The "scrounging for free books" has GOT to be a concern. (And I, too, like the idea of an occasional new city to visit.)

      Delete
  5. The convention used to run four days; my first ABA was in 1975. Opening it to consumers could be a nightmare, because if you're going to be selling stuff in the booth then you'll need to collect sales tax as well. Also, you're in conflict with brick & mortar stores and on-line merchants. Will books be sold at a discount, so they don't have to be shipped back? Opening a can of worms here...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We recognize there are lots of logistical hurdles to overcome. The expectation is to set up vendors like brick & mortar stores to do the selling the way it is done at our comic events. We want to bring national attention to books and reading. Our hopes is that anyone that wants to sell books will be able to do some in some format that makes sense. It is a can of worms but we are fishing for the future.

      Delete
  6. I assume you are aware of the now-infamous "Bitten at BEA" incident? http://bsaot.blogspot.com/2011/06/bitten-at-bea.html

    And do you really think LESS of this sort of things would happen if BEA were open to the public?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OUCH - Literally. That is not tolerated public or not, that person should have been pointed out to security, had her badge removed and escorted from Javits. I am terribly sorry that part of your BEA experience included a bite on the arm (if that was you). There is no doubt that opening the doors will bring in an element that will make BEA less civilized, but it will also increase the exposure and opportunities available to publishers and authors and that is what we are striving for. BEA is owned by Reed and we manage the NY ComicCon show and PAX events which get over 100,000 people. We do not expect those kind of numbers in a million years, but will be prepared for them.

      Delete
  7. If you include librarians, you are already addressing some "consumers". I am interested in attending BEA for the first time because it would provide me with information about part of the whole book experience that I wouldn't have otherwise. And I promise to be very polite if I am lucky enough to get any ARCs.

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