Sunday, January 31, 2010

Publishing news from the weekend

Aside from enjoying the joys of freezing this past weekend (running in 18 degree weather can be motivating to finish faster than you thought possible). I was watching from the glow of my computer the happenings with Macmillan and Amazon.  It was fascinating stuff in the world of digital domains as stake holders continue to claim territory or at try to establish a working model that really works.  I am not versed enough in the complexities to render an opinion that would be worth much.  I at least I know where to look for someone who is in these issues and who provided some wonderful coverage.  I copied Mike Shatzkin's post from earlier today that does an amazing job of explaining this story in depth.

My interests are self preservation in wanting to make sure that BEA not only is a venue to get the latest and best information on the digital frontier for publishing, but also make certain that digital commerce is part of the BEA institution.

Things are changing faster than people can keep up with and companies are in a fight not to be stuck in a business model that is either unsustainable or will put them at a competitive disadvantage.   I would guess rights agreements written in 1960 probably were not too different than ones written in 1995 or even 2001.  It seems every rule is now being re-written or challenged.  With different publishers trying to establish terms that are not tested and affect multiple stake holders with different interests, the ride will be a rough one.  I thought of something I learned this past Friday when reading the news unfold from Amazon and Macmillan.   I had the pleasure of meeting Curtis Brown CEO Timothy Knowlton this past Friday.  I don't want to divulge anything that is proprietary, but speaking generally he shared that it took 2 years for his agency to negotiate the e-book rights for the estate of a prominent author they represent.  The fascinating tidbit is that while the e-book sales have performed well, it has not reflected in any drop off of the regular book sales for his author.  I wonder, when there is a working model that the industry can embrace - will people look back and see the opportunities that were lost?

Mike Shatzkin's Idea Logical post on Amazon vs. Macmillan

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Big Tent at BEA gets bigger

I am thrilled to announce that the newly launched Book Blogger Convention will be bringing their event to run along side BEA, taking place on Friday May 28th.  They will keep the original schedule and now are able to accommodate a larger group as it was anticipated they would max out their original capacity of 150.   BEA welcomes lit bloggers with open arms and the growing role they play in promoting books and new titles.  Their organizers have been enthusiastic and wonderful to work with in making this possible, bettering both events for everyone involved.

I will be on the West Coast next week with stops in Seattle, San Francisco and finishing at the ABA Winter Institute in San Jose.  I expect to have news to share with the ABA in San Jose, making an announcement about an author appearance for BEA - I will post that news soon after here.

Enjoy your weekend - the door bell just rang with dinner from our favorite local Chinese restaurant!!!

Book Blogger Convention

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What does a logo say about BEA?

The BEA site is freshly dressed with BookExpo America's new branding and logo.  While the new BEA logo will look nice on a t-shirt, it won't do a thing for any exhibitor or attendee.  What is tangible is that the new look of BEA is indicative of the transformation that is being applied to BEA from top to bottom.  Some changes are old news with the fact that BEA is moved to mid-week (Tues. - Thurs) and the ABA will be doing their day of education at Javits and not offsite (plus ABA hotel will be in Manhattan, not Brooklyn, which may be a hipper, but not as easy for events during BEA). 

The new BEA logo is fresh, simple and defined in the tag-line: The Content and The Buzz, which is what BEA needs to be for all of our participants.  For our prized attendees - BEA will be easier to navigate both from the website and at BEA with more platforms to see, hear and interact with authors (a new author search tool will go live in March).  For exhibitors, BEA will deliver more quality attendees, create more platforms for authors, there will be more relevant bloggers engaged and the inclusion of the IDPF Digital Book 2010 will bring digital solutions, reading devices and technology to BEA.

The new look and logo articulates that BEA is looking forward proactively to meet the needs of the entire publishing industry.   Sharing a recent converstation evaluating BEA's prospects for 2010 - I am optimistic opposed to be hopeful.  I am optimistic knowing that the changes BEA has invested in will deliver what the industry needs from BEA and I am not having to hope for any thing that is out of our control.  

I look forward to sharing a number of smaller wins that I will be able to confirm in the next few weeks that will welcomed news to the activity happening at BEA 2010.     

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Introducing the Bean

Welcome to the Bean, which loosely translates to BookExpo America news.   If you found your way here, I don't need to explain BookExpo.  The Bean will be where I can announce the latest happenings for BEA, and there will be a lot to announce between now and May 28th.  The news will be from and for the community BookExpo serves - that includes publishers, booksellers of all stripes, librarians, agents, scouts, authors, media, journalists and anyone who loves the business of books.

Sharing the next chapter in my career as BookExpo America's newly minted Event Director, there is a lot to consider so you know how I got here and where I expect BookExpo to go.  Foremost I want to acknowledge and thank Lance.  His big shoes which I get to fill are not just the size 13 he wears.  When I went for this same job 4 years ago, Lance was the person brought into to run BEA.  I gathered up my bruised ego, and knew that I still had a great job in an industry that I loved.  I got to know Lance quickly, spending a lot of time with him in his first year.  His perspective as a bookseller was exactly what BEA needed.  It also needed his sharp mind, his entrepreneurial spirit and his ability to forge partnerships.  At some point early in that first year, I clearly saw in Lance why he was chosen to run BEA.  Lance has become a good friend, not just because he got my quirky jokes or pegged my habit for using analogies but because he was wonderful to work with and made me better at what I do.  I am glad his office remains just down the hall.

To attempt thank everyone I should would be too long and too boring.  However, I could not type another word without acknowledging Courtney Muller.   It was her faith that got me here and it is her passion for BEA that was infectious inspiration when I started on BEA so many years ago.  I can  truly say BEA is in my DNA, just ask anyone who remembers me leaving BEA 2003 to be home in time for the birth of my youngest son Luke.  My wife still reminds me that Greg Topalian (the Event Director in 2003) did not travel to BEA because his wife was also quite preggers.   Both were born on the same day (June 11th) about 5 days after I got home.  That was the year of the infamous Bill O'Reilly & Al Franken 'debate'.

Jumping to the present moment....while I have reveled in the task in responding to the hundreds of well wishers that I have enjoyed since I moved into the Event Director position, I recognize BEA serves a mature industry that is being challenged to its core at a time when the margin for error has never been thinner.  I look forward with the knowledge I am surrounded by a great staff, that BEA attendees not only rate it very highly in terms of satisfaction, they also rate BEA as very valuable to their business.  The biggest challenge will be delivering that same value to BEA exhibitors.  The sense of community, ownership, history and passion for BEA is embedded in the fabric and identity of publishing.  That provides for an industry that not only wants BEA to be successful, but truly needs BEA to be successful.

BEA 2010 will see seismic shifts in moving to mid week, creating new platforms for authors on the show floor and throughout NYC and much more that will be announced over the next several months.

There are many stories from my years working on BEA that come to mind reflecting here, but the one might be the most representative was my attempt to resolve a dispute between two exhibitors.  One being a staid literary publisher from the UK who was offended to be located next a ladder company.  The ladder company recognized that they were being looked down upon as an 'unfit' neighbor and proceeded to tweak his next door nemesis by consistently challenging the display rules.  After a dozen visits with multiple staff members to resolve who was in the right, my final offer was to lock them in a room with the winner being who ever was able to leave the room standing.  With the challenges facing publishing, it feels liket we are all in that room now.   I look forward standing tall with an event that truly serves the publishing industry.