Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Remembering Dave Holton

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Dave Holton passed away on September 18th after a courageous battle with cancer.  There are many who knew and loved Dave, who was a fixture at BEA for more than 20 years.  Dave left the world better than he found it and for those that did have the privilege to know him, why they are saddened and will miss him terribly.

I knew Dave for a long time, but I did not know him as well as he knew me.  But that was Dave, always asking about my family, knowing about where I went on vacation, offering tips on where to go or what see.  Dave always cared a little more about making sure everyone else was taken care of or had a smile on their face because that is what put a smile on his.  

Dave did a lot to make BEA a special event, but that was only a small part of his life because he was active in his community and spent his free time raising tens of thousands of dollars for many charitable causes every year. There are so many stories I'd like to share to paint the picture of what great human being Dave was, but that would take a book itself.   I will share one story that was typical of Dave.  He sent me an email and learned from my out of office reply I was in Washington, DC exhibiting at an ALA  event and this was before BEA was to be in DC, so Dave got in his car and drove to Washington so he could see the new convention center so he would be better prepared for BEA.  All on his own time and his own dime.   I found out about Dave's plan as he walked up to my booth.  I was dumb founded and happily surprised to see him.  I asked why he didn't call or email to let me know he was coming, his response:  "Well I saw your out of office, so I knew you'd be here and I didn't want to bother you."

There is a link below to the funeral home that will be handling his arrangements (details are not yet final, but will be available through this link).  There is also a link to post condolences that will be delivered to Dave's family.  I encourage people that knew Dave to pass along a note as I am sure his family will take comfort in knowing how many lives Dave touched.

It is fitting to share some memories from others who knew Dave and what he meant to BEA:

Oren Teicher from the ABA shared these kinds words:
From the very first time I met Dave - way back to when ABA still operated the convention through his many years of working with the folks at BEA - Dave was always the perfect gentleman. He was dedicated to always making the autographing section of the show better and better......and, each year, he somehow managed to achieve that goal. It was an pleasure to have had the privilege of working with him....he was a very special person.

Tina Jordan, who is now with the AAP, knew Dave as well as anyone in the industry and had the privilege of working directly with him in her time on BEA offered:
No one loved BEA more than Dave Holton.   Dave is THAT guy. You know the guy. The "behind the scenes" BEA guy. Literally.  The guy who took care of your authors with a smile every year for over 20 years behind BEAs autographing curtains. The guy who made sure booksellers got any autographed book and author greeting they wanted. The only guy who could find your lost boxes of books in those cavernous convention centers.  He had that special touch with the unions, he recruited eager college grads wanting that big break in publishing and even took on being an industry cop, scouring E Bay post BEA for culprits trying to sell galleys. A true story.

Publicists loved him. Authors loved him. Booksellers loved him. I loved him.   Thank you Dave for being my partner in BEA events crime for so so many years. I grew up with you.  My heart breaks.  Rest well my dear friend.  I will miss you dearly.

Link to Condolences Registry  Your condolences and expressions of support to the bereaved are private. All messages will be printed and personally presented to the family or forwarded directly to the family's e-mail.  Please feel free to share your thoughts, they are tremendously comforting for the families coping with a loss.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Taking the Long View

Taking the Long View to think about the effects that something will have in the future

BookExpo is knee deep in taking the long view, balancing today vs. tomorrow.  Making certain that exhibitors and attendees get value for the show now, while making changes that will keep BEA relevant many years down the road.  

You can say all you want about publishing being an industry in transition, the digital transformation, the relevance of physical books or bookstores - all items up for debate.  What can't be argued is the fact that in 5 years - 10 years and 100 years - people will still be reading and no matter what the format or delivery, there will still be books.  That make's BEA's focus simple - continue to be an event creates audiences for books.  

I am excited by BEA's recent Conference Advisory Board Meeting.  There was a great energy and enthusiasm for publishing and BEA from this group of industry leaders.  One of the items we shared in that meeting are the top-line objectives for BEA and I think it is worth sharing those plans here.  Please note, while these initiatives will require new energy, thinking and resources, that does not take ANYTHING away from the things BEA does everyday to bring in librarians or independent booksellers or VIPs.  Those programs have been highly successful for BEA and will continue to be important.  The items listed below are being called out because they are going to see a stronger focus for 2014. 
  • Increase Exhibitor Volume thru custom participation options & increased value: BEA in NYC and Javits simply costs more - that is a fact.  NYC also has delivered a higher value for BEA participants.  However, the point of entry is becoming a challenge for some important players.  BEA will come up with turn-key options that will allow anyone to fully engage in BEA for $2,500.00 or lessThis would be less expensive than BEA was for the average exhibitor 10 years ago.  There are too many booksellers, retailers, press, suppliers and industry players that can do business with a publisher at BEA that at that price point, they couldn't afford NOT to exhibit at BEA
  • Manage D2C transition (Direct to Consumer):  From the BEA perspective, the events and Power Readers in 2013 were very successful (85% of Power Readers were Very or Extremely Satisfied and scored their experience off the charts in positive way), however, there needs to be more information for both the attending consumers on what is available and for publishers on what to expect, how to engage consumers and to deliver more value.
  • Improve Saturday B2B Experience:   BEA will make a number of changes to insure that Saturday at BEA is a busy, productive and valuable day.  The last day of any trade show will be slower and we know from the vast majority of attendees: they need MORE than 2 days to get through BEA.  This includes added stipends to insure key buyers are at the show on Saturday, VIP buyer tours on the show floor, strong Saturday programming to make your time there worthwhile and more
  • Deliver Superior Exhibitor Experience: We made massive improvements for attendees in 2013 with aisle congestion, improved autographing and expanded stage programming.  We are going to bring similar focus to making sure exhibitors have a superior experience at BEA.