Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Fairs are more than an Away Game

Having just returned from the London Book Fair - I find it remarkable how book fairs like LBF, Frankfurt and BEA are now the equivalent of an away game in any given sport, picking up your business and bringing it to a venue across town or across the planet for 3+ days of intense business.  I am not writing to go on about the value of trade shows, face to face interaction and the concentration of current or potential business partners in one venue at one time.  All nice and reasons why book fairs continue to be meccas on the calendar for the industry. 

My point is that opportunity is being wasted on 2 fronts.  I am painting all fairs with the same brush here, but the days of big news at book fairs has waned.  Maybe this is not a bad thing as people focus on the task at hand, filling their schedule and taking advantage of who they can meet with at a fair.  Due to social media's evolution, it may not be possible for a headline to emerge as news is spread, consumed and digested with increased frequency.  Barriers to information are gone that existed even just 3 years ago, meaning news will happen with or without the fair.  Still, few companies make announcements at book fairs these days nor do they hold 'big' news to coincide with BEA, LBF or Frankfurt.  Making news is seemingly not on people's agendas for what they need to accomplish at a fair and that is an opportunity that is being missed.  

More alarming to me is the unique education and programs available at book fairs that barely get consideration.  I spoke to a number of industry people at LBF that are far smarter than I with bigger jobs that did not have any idea about the majority of the conference programs.  I understand, their time is extremely precious and they have an agenda set months before walking in the the fair grounds.   However there is content being presented by thought leaders in the industry and can have an invaluable impact on business plans.   My hope for BEA this year is that the right people know to take advantage of the great programming and that will benefit them and their organizations.  A distinct example will be the BEA Select panels, which will focus on critical industry issues.

The first BEA Selects session features a cross section of publishers to provide relevance for almost any publisher.  Perspective from Children's & the independent publishing, internal organization, nuances on team structure and how they work different and how some organizations are implementing new strategies and efforts to bring the author and reader together.

BEA Selects: Reader Centric Publishing – Bringing Authors and Readers Together
These days it’s all about the reader! Publishers are transforming their companies to focus on the reader --- and bringing readers and authors together! Its impact is being felt in strategies not just about what is being published, but also how staffs collaborate and how new workflow systems have been created to develop strategies and tactics to define the reader and map out ways to connect authors and reader. Authors are being educated by their publishers and encouraged to build strong author platforms and engage with readers! New technology is available to publishers to allow them to build new alliances and generate new revenue sources all in an effort to be profitable and connect readers with their many authors. Hear from top executives in the book industry – on ways they are turning the tables and moving to “Reader Centric” publishing!
Carol Fitzgerald, President
Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of the Random House Publishing Group
Bronwen Hruska,  Publisher of Soho Press
Jonathan Karp, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster
Megan Tingley, Senior Vice President of Hachette Book Group and Publisher of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 

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