Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I am not thinking properly....

I am not thinking properly all my 6 year old son could groggily tell me as he woke up from a nightmare.   I was trying to settle him and find out what disturbed him to the point of tears.  I was equally amused by his reasoning.  My wife was not pleased that I marveled more at his ability to reconcile his waking reality versus the bad dream that woke him from a sound sleep instead of finding out what was bothering him.

I wonder if publishing is in the same boat as my son, trying to reconcile reality vs. a bad dream as technology is shifting publishing's future and no one knows what it will look like.  I will be the first to admit, I am much closer to being a professional carny than a publishing professional.   Having devalued my opinion, I can at least offer it from the fact I have a front row seat of how this is playing out. What inspired me to ponder this was the Motoko Rich article that mostly laments e-books will erode the importance of book covers and the iconic role they have in the identity of a book, particularly the resonance a jacket cover has or the motivation to buy a book based on the jacket cover.

I get it.  I am still moved at the sight of an image that can instantly bring me back to the rich experience that book gave me.   Sitting at my desk - looking at the paper back cover of On the Road with Jack Kerouac & Neal Cassady standing in as Sal Paradise & Dean Moriarty put me in the mood to listen to Charlie Parker as I type away.

The difference between sentimentally hanging onto the obsolete and what the future holds is the fact that in 3 mouse clicks - I am listening to Charlie Parker right now on iTunes without missing a beat (no pun intended). The future will come with or without us.  Jacket covers will continue to iconically be linked to books.  I will hazard that it will  the great books that have jacket covers that will stand the chance to endure. 

I can go on - reach for a clumsy anology about lost joy of album covers vs. the sterile iPod.  What I see is publishing struggling to maintain existing business models that will be challenged with each new innovation.  We have not reached the tipping point or seen a game changer yet - but it is coming.  I hope that publishers are as adept as my son and can reconcile what is reality and what is the bad dream they can let go of.

In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover - NYT article by MOTOKO RICH

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York Book Week

BEA Program will Connect Authors to Readers Across NYC is the headline from our press release about New York Book Week. The notion of engaging the public has been an idea BEA has eyed for years. We never were able to do anything substantive until the concept of engaging partners that already create great literary programming came to fruition. BEA always had 2 huge assets that made the concept seem inevitable - access to hundreds of great authors and a robust media list that covers publishing.

Working with the likes Times Talks, the 92nd Street Y, The New York Public Library, The Brooklyn Public Library, Symphony Space, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and selected member stores of IBNYC (Independent Booksellers of New York City) including Housing Works, PowerHouse Arena and Book Culture of takes what was a hopeful idea and makes it a reality. New York Book Week gives New York City something it needs, deserves and is able to support - a week of events about authors & books. All these venues will promote their events to fans of reading (as BEA had never been able to do) and BEA will aggregate the programming on the page below and promote all these events to the press that will be covering BEA and now beyond!

New York Book Week

Monday, March 15, 2010

What do people think of BEA? I have actual answers from BEA attendees.

Reed Exhibitions conducts a needs assesment survey for most of our trade shows out to the industries they serve, providing metrics for the validity of events like BEA from the people who are attending.  I get a kick out of the open ended statements people provide.  Other Reed events might get 1-2 pages of comments, but book people LOVE to write - 13 pages of comments from this survey.  In previous years I have seen comments range from recommending termination of a specific BEA staff member to comments on the brand of hot dog sold at Javits.  

I have pasted of a few of the meaningful stats and then about half of the open ended comments.  I promise - I did not edit a word.  When you see how favorable people view BEA, it makes sense that they have a lot of good things to say.  If you exhibit at BEA - this is good information from attendees saying what they value at BEA.

The features rated highest as extremely/ very valuable to BookExpo America 2010 are: ‘Exhibits’ (86%), ‘New Title Showcase’ (68%) and ‘Conference’ (64%).
  • The features rated highest by ‘previous attendees’ as extremely/ very valuable to BookExpo America 2010 are: ‘Exhibits’ (87%), ‘New Title Showcase’ (64%) and ‘Conference’ (62%).
  • The features rated highest by ‘first time attendees’ as extremely/ very valuable to BookExpo America 2010 are: ‘Exhibits’ (86%), ‘New Title Showcase’ (86%), ‘Librarian Friendly Areas’ (75%) and ‘Conference’ (75%).
  • The features rated highest by ‘first time attendees’ as extremely/ very valuable to BookExpo America 2010 are: ‘Exhibits’ (86%), ‘New Title Showcase’ (86%), ‘Librarian Friendly Areas’ (75%) and ‘Conference’ (75%).
  • The features rated highest by ‘Bookstore/ Bookseller’ as extremely/ very valuable to BookExpo America 2010 are: ‘Exhibits’ (83%) and ‘ABA Events’ (61%).
Below are the open ended comments to this question:  “On a scale of 0 to 10, how strong is your need to be at BookExpo America (BEA)?”

A fellow teacher friend attended last year and shared how wonderful the expo was. The opportunity to get books to use in our classroom and meet authors is an anticipated reason to NOT miss it!!

As a bookseller knowing the new books that are coming only can help customer sales

as a collection development manager, my function is similar to a "buyer" in the retail or manufacturing environment

As mentioned before, I mainly need to keep in touch with vendors, discuss marketing/action plans and negotiate sales expectations against terms and conditions.

Based in Seattle, publishing a magazine on many topics beyond books, this is an essential way for me to remain on top of what is happening in the book business.

BEA is one of the best, most efficient ways to find out what are the new titles and trends in the book industry, especially for children

BEA is the place to be for anyone in publishing. It's a must-attend event.

Being in this industry it is imperative to attend this major industry event - for the livlihood of my business.

Being on the Lariat List (new adult fiction list from TLA) committee forces me to read as many books as I can as far in advance as possible. BEA gives me the opportunity and resources to do this job.

Best place to see trends.

Consider it the necessary event of the year.

Considering we are a distributor from South America is not very often we have the time to sit and discuss business with our main suppliers. The Book Fairs are extremely important for that matter and also to be tuned in into the market we work.

Easiest way to experience all the new titles and meet all the authors.

Great forum to see new releases, "'what's new" in the industry, ie. e-reader, and meet and greet other professionals.

I am an agent who is still learning about the industry and it allows me to understand the scale of companies and their status in the business, as well as to meet the individuals I work with on the phone and internet.

I have been a BookExpo attendee for close to 2 decades and it is one of the best, most valuable conference available!

I have very much enjoyed the BEA over the last 3 years. I look forward to it every year. I get excited when there are authors I love to read and to see what's new in children's books. The kids at my school love it when I show them a book signed by the author especially to them.

I look forward to going every year, the event allows me the possibility to meet authors I would never have heard of and to keep i touch with ones I have met previously. Also, the event allows me to network and meet people with in the industry and speak with them about why they're there.

I love going to BEA, it's basically my vacation this year, and I can't wait! It's the best way to see new titles that I will be selling in the store early.

I'm new in this industry and the Fair is a good opportunity to get in touch with all its world. Is the oppty to improve relationship with publishers, learn more about the authors, latest titles. etc.

Important to learn publishers' current subject areas.


As a librarian, the ability to speak with authors, see the new books that are coming out and mingle with others is not a need but something that I love doing and look forward to attending conferences such as BookExpo.

BEA gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my contacts. As I'm not with a large production studio, the ARCs and catalogues are imperative to my visit as talent agencies sometimes do not heed my requests. BEA gives me access to the books products and the people I need to connect with.

Best place to meet with publishers and to guage industry issues and trends

Book Expo used to be a great experience, a great place to meet with our reps, see new books, find out about books that might otherwise have fallen thru the cracks. But as of last BEA, publishers didn't bring any galleys to speak of, major publishers were pulling out of the show and the energy level was low. I hope this year improves on all that or it will be our last BEA I'm afraid as it will be difficult to justify the cost.

For me, it is both a personal and professional event. I reconnect with long time BEA friends at the Librarian lounge while learning about the latest technologies, titles, etc.. that I can share with my library system.

generates excitement about our industry

Good to have face time with main vendors and investigate new vendors, but not absolutely necessary to go every year.

I attend BEA so that I can find out what books are available. See if there are things that I feel my customers would be interested in knowing about. I attend to see if there are any trends in what's being published and book design and pricing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Buzzing on the Buzz Panels and a THANK YOU!!!

I am pleased to announce the BEA’s Buzz panels for this year. If you don’t know what the Buzz Panels are: BEA’s original and ultimate taste making event. Insightful and passionate, this intimate editorial exchange will provide you with an editor’s perspective on the Fall’s biggest potential breakout releases.

I need to acknowledge the brilliant and dedicated group that combed through the submissions to deliver two great panels. Their depth of knowledge and insight reminds me how lucky I am to have volunteers of this caliber pour their passion and knowledge into BEA, which help make it the great event it is for all of publishing.

Michael Cader, Maria Campbell, Mark Dressler, Brian DeFiore, Carol Fitzgerald, Richard Nash, Jeff Seroy, John Shableski, Talia Ross Sherer and Cevin Bryerman

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - BEA Editors Buzz - 4:30 – 5:30 pm
Program Chair: John Freeman, American Editor, Granta

Editors: Chuck Adams, Executive Editor, Algonquin with Jonathan Evison’s WEST OF HERE; Susanna Porter, Executive Editor, Ballantine with Ann Fortier’s JULIET: A Novel; Mitzi Angel, Publisher, FSG with Ben Goldacre’s BAD SCIENCE; Judy Clain, Executive Editor, Little, Brown & Co. with Emma Donoghue’s ROOM; Nan Graham, Editor-in-Chief, Scribner with Siddhartha Mukherjee’s THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER; Cary Goldstein, Assoc. Publisher, Twelve with Benjamin Hale’s THE EVOLUTION OF BRUNO LITTLEMORE

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - BEA (Young Adult) Editors Buzz - 2:00 – 3:15 pm

Editors: Julie Strauss-Gabel, Associate Publisher, Dutton Children’s Books with Ally Condie’s MATCHED; Jennifer Weis, Executive Editor, St. Marin’s Press with Rebecca Maizel’s INFINITE DAYS; Cindy Eagan, Editorial Dir., Poppy with Kody Keplinger’s THE DUFF; Farrin Jacobs, Executive Editor, Harper Teen with Sophie Jordan’s FIRELIGHT; Arthur Levine, VP & Editorial Dir., Arthur A. Levine Books with Erin Bow’s PLAIN KATE

Thank you to everyone that contributed to my participation in St. Baldrick's - I was able to raise $160.00 and take part in a wonderful event. Team Brent shaved 531 heads that day and raised (drum roll) over $500,000.00!!!! Below are photos with Josh, ME & my nephew John Michael McMillan baring our heads.

Friday, March 5, 2010

BEA Author Events Get Big Play

I am pasting an e-mail I got from Roger Bilheimer (BEA's PR Director) this morning sharing the huge pick up on BEA's press release yesterday. I am asked every where I go what I expect for BEA this year. I have shared that I am optimistic opposed to being 'hopeful' as I was going into 2009's show. I have to admit as all the little wins to pile up - I am moving past optimistic to pure excitement and anticipation. The 'little wins' I am talking about - the additions that will be happening at BEA include the ABA education programming, the IDPF Digital Book 2010 Event, the Book Bloggers Convention, the LJ/SLJ Day of Dialogue and we are only getting warmed up - there is so much more to come!!!!
From Roger:
The Associated Press wrote this blurb (see below) which is getting picked up ALL over the place.  It's been reprinted in 126 sources and still counting!!  The blurb also includes their photos side by side.  The Stewart/Condi lead is the best one we have had in years.
NEW YORK — How about this for a comedy team: Jon Stewart and Condoleezza Rice? Stewart will host an author breakfast in May at BookExpo America, the publishing industry's annual national convention. Rice, the former secretary of state who has a memoir out this fall, will be among the speakers.The three-day convention will be held in New York from May 25-27. Other speakers will include John Grisham, Christopher Hitchens and Sarah Ferguson.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Peak at the Future from the AAP Annual Meeting

I want to share some thoughts on what was a lively panel from the AAP annual meeting yesterday titled: The Future of the Copyright. Featured speakers included Marybeth Peter (Register of Copyrights, US Copyright Office) Pamela Samuelson (Distinguished Professor of Law) and Mark Halprin (author of Digital Barbarism: A Writers Manifesto). Macmillan CEO John Sargent smartly moderated.

Much of the panel discussion centered on the theme that the future of copyright laws are still being shaped, warning publishers not to idly assume their interests will be protected. The panel also dug into what is fair use of content, the ability to digitize content and where that content is then available. There are lots of valid reasons why free content is good and the benefits publishers or authors (links that sell books, free publicity...), but unless intellectual property protection can match the new technologies for consuming it, there will be nothing left to protect. Mr. Halprin made some insightful and funny analogies. One comparing the physical effort of lasik surgery (a few small incisions) vs. the labor required for shoveling. It is obvious that far more effort is expended to shovel - so is it more valuable?  An author spends years of his/her life writing what will ultimately be a book.  Likewise a surgeon invests years to acquire knowledge and skills to allows their  modest 'physical' effort to correct a person's vision.  The effort from that surgeon produces a value far greater than a snow free driveway. Content is not diminished because it is digitized and the cost of producing a physical book is eliminated. The value is the content - not how it is delivered. Mr. Halprin also theorized that the Google settlement was the first step on a path to extinction for publishers (I am paraphrasing). He offered that publishers could fight the Google settlement and they might lose or do nothing and they will certainly lose.

While it is not exclusive to publishing, what struck a chord with me in this discussion is technology is moving almost unimpeded against the need to protect intellectual property. The risk is entire industries like publishing, newspapers or magazines can totally evaporate. This is not trying to save 8-tracks, incandescent light bulbs or steam trains – technology is needed to advance any industry or that industry will perish. My point is that content is what has always been the value that people buy whether is on paper or on a screen and that will not change and that is what needs to be protected. New York Magazine’s cover story on Ruppert Murdoch is worth reading, although not so much for my points here, but he is swimming against the overwhelming current in the world of free content for the printed word as a strong proponent to stop giving content away and develop a pay model. The article does speak to his vision in parts.

I will now be a complete hypocrite and lift Penguin’s CEO John Makinson’s quotes from Publishers Lunch yesterday. I do so wanting to share his thinking on adopting new technologies that it is both brave and visionary for admitting to not knowing the future. Makinson freely admitted that "we don't understand at the moment what the consumer is prepared to pay for. We don't know whether the inclusion of a video introduction by an author will be of value to the consumer, and it may not be the same answer every time." He added, "we'll only find answers to these questions by trial and error." The point is, "we'll have to be innovative and take some risks. We'll have to, above all, listen to our readers to understand what they want, and what they'll pay for."

There was a related article in Newsweek by Futurist Andrew Zolli (who has a cooler title than that?). While he speaks broadly on how media companies will evolve from the battle of free content, the last paragraph of his article portends a future that content providers will survive. In the long run, the first decade of the Web could come to be seen as a momentary aberration—an echo of '60s free culture when we all took the bad, digital acid. So, media companies, on behalf of all misdirected Internet visionaries, I'm sorry. We like you—we really do—and we don't want a world without you. If you can hold on until we all have new kinds of screens, and new sets of expectations, you'll be fine. You'll be different, but fine. Just, please, don't take my word for it this time. Ask around.

A link to the whole Newsweek article The Future Won’t Be Free – support Newsweek & Andrew Zolli and buy the current issue or hire his firm:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More and less - 2 different stories.

“Edelweiss” a new internet-based service from Above the Treeline that supplements or replaces traditional print catalogs. Edelweiss was formally launched at BEA last year and has since seen rapid and widespread adoption within the publishing for publishers seeking to reduce catalog costs while reaching a wider community of catalog readers on the Web.  “We’re thrilled to debut Books@BEA because it’s yet another added value to both attendees and exhibitors and demonstrates BEA’s commitment to keeping pace with the evolution of the industry,” notes Steve Rosato, Event Director, BEA, Reed Exhibitions. “Our partnership with Above the Treeline will make it easier for Booksellers and the media to find exciting new titles and authors and for publishers to promote and sell their books.”

I clipped the above from the press release that will be going out today with complete details.  The thing that excites me most is this is a genuine value for participating in BEA for both everyone.  That is the more story for today.

The less story is something I am looking forward to participating in this weekend.  I will have a lot less hair sometime on Saturday afternoon along with my son Josh.  We will both have our heads shaved participating in St. Baldrick's.  If you have not heard of The St. Baldrick's Foundation, it raises awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer.  Participants in a St. Baldrick's shave their heads in exchange for donations towards research. Efforts fund research and bald heads are a display of solidarity with kids who have cancer. Since its founding in 2000, the St. Baldrick's Foundation has raised over $69 million by shaving over 107,000 heads in 24 countries. St. Baldrick's funds more childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. Government. 

So if you see me next week - I will have a lot less hair.  The local group that is affiliated with this event is TeamBrent who have personally raised $3.5mm since 2005.  This is a husband and wife whose 3 year old son was fighting stage IV neuroblastoma.  They have thrown themselves into doing something that will make a difference.  Happily Brent is doing well and living the life of an 8 year old boy.  If you are motivated to sponsor me - you will have license to rub or make fun of my slighly mishapen head.  Contact me directly or use the link to the donation form below the link with details about TeamBrent.