Power Readers are how BEA has 'branded' consumers that will be attending BEA, which we expect will grow dramatically in the next few years. For 2013 we are expecting 2,000+. Power Readers are an added value for what is already taking place at BEA and will ultimately benefit everyone that participates as a professional from publishers and booksellers to digital service providers and librarians. BEA has a custodial obligation to serve the best interests of the whole industry and by embracing a consumer element, BEA can become a pop culture event that puts reading and books front and center in way that does not happen on a national or even international level right now, reaching passionate readers and more importantly converting passive readers so they get excited about the world of books in the same way they get excited about something like the new Iron Man movie or the new season of Mad Men. Publishers have worried that they need to change their booths and the items they display. We know from our experiment last year in opening in a limited way, Power Readers want to know what is coming out in the fall, they are enthralled to be in the same room as their favorite authors and being able to talk with an editor makes them excited about the books they pick for their book clubs. This is not about BEA being a flea market, this is about preaching to reading evangelists who are eager to share what is new to their friends and the people they ultimately influence. This is an opportunity to get people excited about books and authors they did not know about, about letting them know where in their own communities they can find books, whether that option is B&N or finding out about what independent booksellers do in their community. This is about taking the exciting author events that take place at BEA and streaming them live across the planet so 250,000 people can discover what is happening in the world of books because that is how many unique people downloaded BEA videos and podcasts in 2012. With BookBliss we have only touched the tip of what BEA will deliver for publishers (exponential added exposure), booksellers (see the Buzz Panels or author breakfasts you missed or for your staff that could not attend BEA) and for Power Readers who are reading evangelists as they become a welcomed part of the BEA experience.
We are not going to be perfect, there will be challenges along the way in protecting the commercial value while incorporating a consumer element to BEA. However, the stakes are too high and the opportunity is too great for BEA not to make this transition. While BEA is being aggressive, we are also being measured in our approach – we are doing loads of research with consumers, we are talking with our partners and we are listening to booksellers and publishers. This is the opportunity for BEA to proactively change before the industry has to react to what the landscape of book discovery is in 2 or 3 years. Done well, everyone wins and this is why I am so confident that BEA’s best days are indeed in front of us as well as for the whole of publishing and bookselling