Thursday, December 16, 2010

BEA Announces Italy as focus of Global Market Forum Program


International Initiative to Run Concurrently with BEA

Norwalk, CT, December 16, 2010: BookExpo America (BEA) and the Italian Trade Commission to the USA have today announced that Italy will be the focus of attention and Guest of Honor at the show’s highly successful Global Market Forum. A key component of BEA for international attendees, the Global Market Forum runs concurrently with BEA activities, and is specifically designed to serve all international attendees as well as all domestic publishing personnel with an investment in international publishing and book industry concerns. In the past three years the Global Market Forum has highlighted programs featuring publishing and literature from Spain (2010) and the Arab World (2009) as well as Global English Reading (2008).

BookExpo America officials are pleased to form this partnership with Italy in 2011. Today’s Italian publishing industry alongside with authors and books from Italy will be showcased in professional programs at the largest American book trade show while literary and related cultural programs, highlighting contemporary fiction in translation and in original editions, will take place at various cultural events across the city of New York as part of New York Book Week.

As in previous years, topics for debate will include contemporary fiction in translation, imports and exports of original books, children’s and young adult literature, as well as digital developments in the USA and in Italy and Europe in comparison.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hi, my name is Steve and I am thin skinned

Well - I don't think I am truly a thin skinned person, but by replying to specific Tweets floating around Twitterdom, I can't have the thickest skin.  The Tweets were from John Kremer's Twitter page.   His comments are not unfair and I can assure any reader, they are major points of discussion in all BEA planning and strategy and have been for years.  So -what is my compulsion to respond?  The tweets which I list below do not take into account facts that went into these decisions that are being critical of BEA.  So, me and my thin skin are offering replies to tweets I felt were not the complete story.

The NYC publisher employees won't come on the weekend but do during the week (because they get paid then).  &  BEA can show increased attendance numbers by getting all the NYC publisher employees coming during the week. BEA has worked hard to eliminate addendees that are not of high value to publishers, this includes employees that are superfluous to the activities taking place BEA.  Toward that end, there are literally 2,000 less publishing staff walking the aisles than there were a few years ago.  Still, for publishing professionals in PR, editorial, sales and marketing - BEA delivers a high value of education that is transformative to the industry.  What is wrong with having the important publishing industry staff take part in the main event for their industry?
Also, the BEA needs to be on the weekend when booksellers can come. The show now is for the NYC publishers ease. Nothing else.    This cuts both ways.  Yes - there are booksellers that prefer the weekend.  The vast majority (almost 90% of the 400+ individual write in comments from the attendee survey) of booksellers prefer midweek as they are busier in their stores on the weekend.  The other driving reasons for BEA being midweek the international component of BEA and media prefer midweek exclusively.
Rotate the BEA as in the past to LA, Chicago, etc. NYC is a horrible convention center. No taxies after the show, etc.  Admittedly Javits is not an oasis in the world of convention centers, but NY State is finally starting their long over due refurbishing of Javits - we will live through this and have a better facility in the end.  Reviewing our exhibitor & attendee research going back to 2002, which includes years of BEA in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC - the worst satisfaction ratings of any NYC BEA ('02,'05, 07, '09 &'10) beat LA, Chicago and Washington, DC by a good margin.  NYC is a big driver for international participation, media and is in closer proximity to more major library systems than LA or Chicago.
BEA to be in New York City indefinitely. Midweek (Tues to Thurs). Cheaper for the organizer but not good for the publishers or booksellers.  This is flat out wrong and this comment is probably the one that drove me to write this posting. BEA in NYC is far more expensive for Reed than any other city and those are costs that Reed absorbs without passing on to exhibitors or attendees.

BookExpo America is dying. Many publishers not intending to attend the next BEA. Sadly, the show promoter is killing the show.  Ouch!! Okay - this is probably the tweet that tweaked me.  I am not the judge here - exhibitors and attendees will do that with their feet and their budgets.  I do know our exhibitor satisfaction when up 10 points from 2009, BEA attendees are nearly 90% 'satisfied or extremely satisfied' with the value of BEA, we have a Conference Advisory Board and an Executive Steering Committee to get direct feedback that is representative of all of BEA's constituents.  We are not perfect and we have made mistakes, but we will do everything in our power to make BEA better, more accessible and a valuable experience for anyone that is involved in publishing.   

Are DVDs apples and books oranges?

I saw the article below on ICv2  Daily Insider (it's a great source for pop culture news) and pondered the correlation for book selling.  I am a firm believer that physical books are not going away.  Proof that physical books remain viable comes from seeing that every Holiday gift list includes books right along side of iPads and Scrabble Flash as must haves to the fact that while eBook sales continue to skyrocket, more than doubling the 3rd quarter in 2010 from the 3rd quarter on 2009  - yet physical book sales remain flat or modestly down, demonstrating ebook sales are not replacing physical book sales, at least in a corresponding fashion.

Moving on to my point - is there a difference when comparing books and DVD sales?  Whether a movie is consumed via DVD or is streamed, the experience for the consumer is still the same on the ever expanding size and quality of their TV.  The difference is the method of delivery - acquired on-line vs. a physical store.  Books are more tactile compared to e-readers, however the experience on an e-reading device does not dramatically change from a physical book.   I get that books are different than movies.   I am reading my way through Keith Richards' Life - I enjoy toting it from my bedroom to my living room and will likely spend 2+ weeks with it.  Movies are generally done in 2 hours and a much less curated experience.  Still, I have to wonder with the litany of tablet devices coming out that will essentially be putting e-reader in more and more peoples hands if the comparison is not more apples to apples than the industry realizes.

The Decline of the Disc

Major Shift to Internet Delivery By 2014

Published: 12/14/2010 07:00pm
The importance of sales of DVDs to the entertainment industry is waning as the home entertainment industry enters a period of profound change with consumers switching from buying actual discs from multiple brick & mortar and online outlets to streaming and digitally downloading movies and TV shows from a few mega suppliers. According to Home Media Magazine, the Arizona-based research firm In-Stat predicts that, while Blu-ray sales will continue to increase, they won’t be enough to offset the drop in sales of conventional DVDs.  The total U.S. DVD market, which accounted for an estimated $13 billion in sales in 2009, will drop by $4.6 billion by 2014.   Taking up the slack will be streaming and digital downloads, which will grow from its current level of $2.3 billion to $6.3 billion by 2014.

Starting with videotapes, home entertainment sales have been a huge boon to Hollywood, which has seen attendance at theaters lag (record box office numbers are the result of higher ticket prices, not growing attendance).  After continuing growth in DVD sales the early years of this Century had made disc sales the ultimate arbiter of profitability, the box office ticket sales total of $9.87 billion in 2009 overtook sales of movie-based DVDs and Blu-rays, which declined to $8.73 billion for the year.

The amount of change in the home entertainment industry can be gauged by a recent comment from Netflix’s Reed Hastings, who during the company’s third quarter earnings call, said that his company is “now primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BEA Update

BEA's Executive Steering Committee is a group that I depend on to help insure that the decisions we make for BEA are sound for all of BEA's exhibitors and attendees.   I had sent them a letter updating them on BEA just before the Thanksgiving Holiday after the news of the termination of the talks for BEA to co-locate with ALA .  I have included most of the contents of that update and thought this would be good information to share with anyone who has an interest in BEA. 

I am writing to provide the BEA Executive Steering Committee an update on BookExpo America in light of the recent efforts to create a co-located event with ALA. It was a great exercise. I am grateful for the candid feedback that let us make a decision that will best serve all the constituents involved. It was also encouraging to know how vested publishers are in BEA. The results were that BEA and ALA each have very distinct value propositions as separate events and combining them could jeopardize the unique values for both ALA and BEA. BEA will remain focused on delivering that value for the publishing industry.

I want to share we have been trying to secure suitable dates for BEA at Javits beyond 2012. We have been exploring Chicago as an alternative. With the possible exception of 2016, it appears we will be able to lock up dates at Javits either the week prior to or the week after Memorial Day through 2017, which has historically worked for BEA. All of our key strategy points and measurable performance indexes make New York the ideal location for BEA. That includes proximity for buying groups, ease for international participation and media.

The future of BEA will remain mid-week, being a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday event. One tweak for this year is the BEA Book and Author events will all be breakfasts. We opted not to add back an author lunch, feeling that the condensed schedule last year elevated the already lofty quality of the Book & Author events. Also, occupying booksellers’ time for lunch is taking opportunities away from publishers; which we want to avoid.

Two of BEA’s primary focuses for 2011 are the Targeted Attendee Program (TAP) and to re-imagine our communication process. The objective is to deliver high value attendees to BEA, focused on bringing new buyers and special market buyers to BEA. If you want any further details, please drop me a line and I will be happy to share our progress. I have also come to recognize that BEA’s method of communication with exhibitors and attendees was to push a wall of information out to the world and hope it reached its audience. BEA will be more targeted and simpler in our communications. A few examples include the redesign of the BEA website, the BEA directory will be re-formatted so it is easier to use and BEA will partner with Publishers Weekly’s on the Official Show Daily. The Show Daily will now contain all critical programming information in one place, detailing exactly what is happening, quickly and easily.

The BEA Conference Program will be free for exhibitors for the first time ever. The BEA Conference Program annually scores high marks in all of our survey results and is genuinely world class programming that can deliver training, ideas and evolution back to your organization. Yet, we find it is underutilized by the vast majority of exhibitors. This should be a strong value for your organization and hopefully removing the modest fees are a step in that direction. Please note this is not inclusive of co-located events like the Audio Publishers Association or the IDPF Digital Book 2011 events. Lastly – I have been visiting booksellers and retailers as part of our TAP initiative. I have heard time and again they miss seeing more books at BEA. I have explained that it is a big cost issue for publishers. From the retailers I have met with, they don’t expect a free galley, but they miss the tactile experience at BEA of seeing the physical book. I felt compelled to share this as I have heard this sentiment distinctly and frequently. I don’t know  as a publisher if you get this feedback from booksellers.