Indies See Surge at BookExpo America in New York
Ott, Bill, American Libraries
Long before the controversies that now bedevil the book publishing and bookselling industry--ebook policies and the many-tentacled presence of Amazon.com--appeared on the horizon, there was still concern about the lack of actual booksellers on the floor at the annual BookExpo America (BEA) trade show. The convention, many worried, had become a subsidiary-rights show, with interactions between publishers and booksellers growing less and less frequent.
This year, however, the buzz on the floor during BEA's June 4-7 meeting at New York City's Javits Center was very different. The blue badges worn by booksellers were much more in evidence, and the spirit among independent booksellers was noticeably upbeat. "We were down, but we're on our way back," seemed to be the prevailing sentiment, and the numbers backed up the mood, with American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher citing a 13.4% increase in sales from the indies.
Also contributing to the optimism that suffused Javits Center was the dramatic increase in traffic. The crowds in the center aisles reminded veterans of the halcyon days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with booksellers and librarians (an ever-growing segment of the BEA audience) jostling to get their hands on giveaway galleys and enduring labyrinthine lines to have their loot autographed by favorite authors.
Adding to the crowds on the last day of the show, dubbed Consumer Day, were members of the book-loving general public, allowed to purchase tickets for the first time. Some publishers expressed concern about the effect an influx of up to 1,000 consumers would have on the business of BEA, but no disruptions were apparent on the floor, and some observers expressed the opinion that, in the future, BEA may reinvent itself as a public book fair rather than an industry book show. …