Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dispatch from Buenos Aires

I am in Buenos Aires attending the International Book Fair directors meeting.  It is so hard to squeeze a trip like this just weeks before BEA, but it is also great to meet with show directors from Taipei, Beijing, Bologna, Frankfurt, Guadalajara, Columbia, Leipzig, Salon du Livre and our wonderful hosts from Buenos Aires.  We  run very different events with unique issues, but we all share the question of what the future holds for book fairs as the rise of ebooks casts a long shadow over what that future will be and the role of book fairs in that future. 

We had the great pleasure to hear from a publisher from Argentina that has a tradtional publishing house and launched a niche digital publishing company as well in 2009.  It was encouraging to hear his experience using open source software to create a platform from scratch and has now published almost 100 books, selling through Amazon or using on demand printing to fill orders.  His success is the long tail in real life.  He can nimbly get books published at a much quicker rate the scale it as needed through his digital fulfillment options.  He also still finds the role of the book fair very important and can not replace what you get from sitting and talking with peers face to face to learn and get inspiration.  That is why I am in Buenos Aires 4 weeks before BEA, what you get from face to face can not be replicated or substituted. 

As the painful memories of 2009 will not fade anytime soon, I have the sense BEA be starting point for a better time for business and the world of books, where growth and stability will be possible.  I hope that I am right and the 1st corner we turn will be marked on the calendar as May 25-27 2010 at the Javits Center and all over NYC!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What you need to know about BEA, if you didn't know it already

It has been a remarkably busy week in the wake the unprecedented travel problems that people had to endure.  That has led to a huge run up in interest for BEA.  I am surprised at the amount of questions from people who are not familiar with the changes at BEA for 2010. I take ownership in that we need to communicate this information better.  If you are reading this and any of these points are news - please forward this post onto anyone who can benefit.  

Here are the most critical points as people gear up and adjust for what will be a fantastic BEA.

  • BEA is a 3 day Event - Tuesday May 25th will be loaded with activity that includes:
    • The CIROBE Remainders Pavilion, Exhibitor Meeting Rooms AND the International Rights Center are all up and fully functioning from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    • The BEA Big Ideas & Global Market Forum (Spain) Programs are running
    • The ABA Programming, The IDPF Digital Book 2010 & the LJ/SLJ Day of Dialogue are all happening at Javits.
  • BEA has 2 Full Exhibit Days May Wednesday 26th 9am - 6pm & Thursday May 27th 9am - 5pm
  • The ABA/BEA Plenary Session (CEO Panel), Barbara Streisand and the Editors Buzz Panel are Tuesday May 25th
  • The YA Buzz Panel is Wednesday May 26th.
  • BEA's new BEA Search It/Find It tool will make it VERY easy to find everything at BEA. 
  • There are still plenty of hotel rooms at great rates.  BEA Hotel & Travel Links
  • I just priced a round trip fare from Heathrow to JFK on from May 22-28 - $498.00 direct on AA.
  • There are still tables available in the IRC and there are a limited number of booths available.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nothing is more pointless than getting angry at a volcano.

I have to admit stealing the title from a Tweet I read.  It has been far more interesting and informative following the Iceland volcano on Facebook and Twitter.  Obvious or not - I will not being at the London Book Fair this week.   The bonus was personal in that my wife has to travel for work this week as well and the gymnastics of trying to run our personal lives sandwiched around a total of 3 business trips (I am off to Buenos Aires on 4/26) was a mild nightmare.  The people in London will adapt and have a productive fair regardless.  I also expect that people who are were shut out like myself will adapt as well.   I already have 3 meetings in NYC for this Tuesday with other erstwhile LBF goers.

Check the Tweets at #LBF10 or Volcano.  Here are some highlights just tweeted:

  • According to legend, the only way to appease the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano in Iceland is to sacrifice Justin Bieber.
  • Back home... No train available until Tuesday at least and airports still closed... FML I'm not going to London :(((((((( F&#K YOU VOLCANO
  • RT @BOOKSA: Just got the news that @WitsPressauthor Pumla Dineo Gqola has made it to #lbf10 Brilliant!
  • Getting to be new best friends with the few other Americans who made it over here. Tonight: tapas
I am now off to a little league pitching clinic I would have otherwise all is not lost!

Friday, April 16, 2010

London Calling or a remake of a bad Tom Hanks Movie (Joe vs. the Volcano)

For full diclosure I started writing this post yesterday before the news of air travel chaos fully erupted (ouch that was bad).   I think it holds up more so, even with the outcome not yet determined.  I am eagerly looking forward to the London Book Fair.  Looking back, 2009 was a poop sandwich for most people, served without the bread.   The expecations for LBF in 2009 were appropriately reduced along with the number of staff from most organizations.  Well a funny thing happened, people who were at LBF to do business, did business.  Maybe it was not a record year of deals, but all things considered it was a great show.  My evidence is the fact that BEA signed up 7 companies that took nearly 1,000 sq. ft. for BEA 2009, which was a mere 5 weeks away.  People had started deals in LBF and looked to BEA to maintain momentum.  The fact is to be succcessful at any trade event, your organization has to plan and set meetings that will lead to productive business.  Showing up, standing in a well appointed booth and expecting that business will find you is not much of a plan.   No matter how dire the business climate or conditions of the airspace, people that will make the effort to attend a trade event under those conditions are the ones that will be the most prepared to make that event worth while.   This was also proved true at BEA 2009 when the expectations were at a nadir.   BEA 2009 turned out to be a great show.   Maybe it was not the best BEA ever, but it was busy, books got made, deals were done and it gave the BEA the opportunity to continue to evolve in a way that will serve the publishing industry in a meaningful way.

I am sure I will have more problems with the Van Wyck Expressway and American Airlines than I will conducting business at London Book Fair.  My fingers are crossed that airspace will clear and I will be enjoying pint with my friends from Combined Book Exhibits.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anybody need a ride to BEA??? I am not kidding if you live in Central PA

Fox Chapel Publishing and Stackpole Books are organizing a bus from Lancaster (which I learned years ago from locals is pronounced LANK-a-stir, opposed to lan-CAST-er) Harrisburg area.  BEA is a community - this is one way to get to know your neighbors.  Thank You to our friends at Fox Chapel Publishing  and Stackpole Books for organizing and sharing this great option for getting to and from BEA. 

Central PA Booksellers, Librarians and Publishers - ride in a luxury motor coach to and from BookExpo for $50 per person roundtrip. Wednesday May 26th. By leaving at 7 am from the Lancaster/Harrisburg area and returning at 9 pm - you'll get a full day in NYC ( 10 am- 6 pm) without the expense of hotel rooms. This is a co-operative, shared cost arrangement - currently Fox Chapel Publishing and Stackpole Books have reserved 12 seats for the 26 passenger coach. Interested? email Wendy Calta at Fox Chapel Publishing. with CC info and number of seats needed.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Exile on Main Street being revisited....again...

This post has little or nothing to do with BEA or publishing.  Although it might be fun pondering the idea of publishers aping the music industry gimmick for fresh revenue from old content by re-issuing cherished fan favorites the way the music industry does, tweaking albums ever so slightly and labeling it re-mastered, alternate takes of classic songs or the true gems - previously unreleased material.   Think about re-mastering Holden Caulfield's adventure into New York City from Catcher in the Rye - a fresh editor might choose Las Vegas for a back drop for coming of age.  Publishing did pick up on the concept music mash ups with Pride Prejudice and Zombies as a working model -  Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter shows the pony has at least 2 tricks.  If you have not knowingly experienced a music mash up - there is far better, but here is idea:  The Beatles vs. Guns N’ Roses Sgt Pepper’s Paradise City 

I am both excited and annoyed by the pending re-issue of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street.   It is exciting to discover the 10 previously unheard tracks, finding of loads of film from the recording sessions will be a treat and Jimmy Fallon will dedicate a week of bands doing covers from the classic album, including Phish for 3 nights the week before it will be re-released on May 18th (the Late Night shows are May 10-15).  

I am annoyed because Exile on Main Street is more an institution than an album for me.  The idea of it being adulterated in any from than the original is akin to doing a touch up on the Mona Lisa or dropping Holden Caulfield into Las Vegas or one my wife's greatest fear - that someone would attempt to remake the Wizard of Oz  I have Exile on vinyl, it was one of the first CDs I ever bought in 1980something.  I literally wore it out and had to buy replacement copy and then bought the 1994 Virgin original remastered version.   It is brilliance out of what should have been disaster.  The circumstance of the Stones literally fleeing the UK in the face of mounting tax debts - to a villa named Nelcote in the the south of France.  It is well documented that Exile on Main Street debuted to mediocre reviews - even getting panned by Rolling Stone.  Over time it became recognized as one of the great and most influential rock albums of all time.   Legend and fact blend as to who sat in on what session.   Keith Richards' heroin fueled creativity was at its peak, the erosion of his musical powers due to addiction started showing in the subsequent Goats Head Soup and was truly evident in Its Only Rock and Roll.  

Anyway I am starting to rant and the fact is on May 18th I will be out and likely buying a physical CD for the first time in 3 or 4 years.