A Piece of My Mind: Book Expo
It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.
~ Charles Dickens
The Book Expo America 2006 (BEA) came into the Washington, D.C.
convention center with a whimper and not as big a bang that the Expo usually
has had. To me, it was at home, since I live in the DC area. During the
show, I slept in my own bed . . . it was convention miracle for me. So BEA
was wonderful because it was LOCAL this year, but it was also a let-down.
To me, BEA is like a carnival side show. The booth people are like
carnival barkers. The books are the thrills and chills of the event,
replacing the roller coasters and side shows. Usually BEA is filled with an
inner excitement. However, many like me didn't feel it this year. Like the
song says, the thrill is gone. I say this because I have been going to
this show for twenty years
The usual suspects were there . . . such Big named publishers like Simon
& Schuster, Random House, Time Warner, William Morrow, Harper Collins and
all their divisions showed up. Their booths filled the quarter of an aisle
like they usually do. Still it seemed slow - even for the big names.
The show seemed less animated this year than in previous years. Of
course, there were the feeding frenzies of special upcoming books or
convention bags on Friday and Saturday. Most felt, as I did, a slowdown on Saturday afternoon, usually the busiest day of the show. The hype machines
seem to have died to a dull roar
The authors were there, but not as many as there have been. The lines in
the autograph section were shorter than normal. It seems some of the writers
did not seem to have as much of the punch in their step. It felt like they
were going through the motions. As I said and most felt, The Thrill is Gone!
The galley copies of books (if you do not know what a galley is-it is
generally an uncorrected copy of an advanced copy of a book) were out there
for the taking, like they usually are. They use to flow out like wine, now
they trickle out during special feeding frenzies which made traffic jams on the
convention floor. The standard galleys of the "name" authors were not
put out as much this year, such as the new
Sue Grafton book - a convention galley staple for ten years. This was, as
someone told me, to promote the newer authors who needed a showcase. In the
flashes of name author galleys (such as Meet the Press's Tim Russert, James
Paterson, etc.), there were small throngs and gathering of crowds. After the
galleys were gone, the crowds vanished into dust.
Small press publishers seem to have grown larger and larger at each
convention. Most years, many of them were placed in a smaller hall. This
year, many of the smaller press people have moved into the main hall. There was a smaller hall with small press and
Children's press. However, that hall was not as full as normal
Even my beloved press room seemed sedate this year. In years past, the
room was a hub of discussion, debate, and networking. People used to discuss
the issues of publishing, the newest book or author. Most of the time,
these discussions led to dinner, e-mails, and friendships. This year, most
press members got their badges and never returned to the press room. The
room seems like a ghost town. Even the promotion material were less than from
The most impressive item of this show was the shipping department. Once
you got your spoils (galleys, buttons, posters, bags, etc.), you needed to
take it home. The convention was local and I still shipped four small boxes
(30 pounds each box) mostly all on the last day
Before I forget, I must say thanks to those who said hello, shook my hand
and said they enjoy my column...It's nice to know that you are being read.
It does make one's day, even on a busy convention floor. And to the pregnant
woman who said I won't remember her in my column, HI I remember you!
Well next year the convention will be held June 1-3, 2007 at the Jacob
Javits Convention Center - New York City, NY . . . I hope it will be better.
And YES, I will be there!
So, until next time keep reaching for the stars!
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About the Writer:
Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in
175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and
reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery
Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and
many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN
Forum. View his web site at