The BEA takes place in the sprawling Jacob Javits Convention Center on the western edge of Manhattan between 33rd and 38th street. It is roughly the size of the Continental Airlines Terminal at Newark International Airport. In other words—vast. The visitor check-in area even reminded me of an airport check-in.
The bigger publishers occupy the mid-zone area with booths that are more like portable showrooms. It would be like going to Barnes and Noble except the authors show up, sign their book, and then let you take it away for free. I picked up an arc from the author Mark Frost of his new book The Paladin Prophecy from Random House and only later (still kicking myself!) realized the man co-wrote one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Twin Peaks, wrote the screenplay for the Fantastic Four movies and went to my alma mater, Carnegie-Mellon University. Okay—so I really am going to start looking in those about the author blurbs fast before I walk away. And you can be sure I am reading that book.
Lesson learned: you need a BEA strategy
The back of the booth floor also has a table area where people assemble (in very long lines) to get arcs signed by authors, as well. There are also multiple panels taking place throughout the day in the staging areas. I caught part of a YA panel with Melissa Marr. Honestly, the place is so huge and frenetic, I am certain I missed most of what was going on.
So, I had originally taken it upon myself to be the Enchanted Inkpot BEA roving reporter. Armed with a small digital recorder and my smile, the first day I got there I wandered around asking people this question:
What do you see as the most important trends in children’s book publishing in the next five to ten years?
First of all—full disclosure. I somehow managed to erase everything I’d recorded. Apparently the recorder kept turning on in my purse—and poof! All gone. But, it’s not really a problem because, in the end decided to give up the whole idea. A lot of folks were reluctant to be quoted knowing that their words would be published and I thought it would be dishonest to do so without their consent. However, if you simply engaged people in conversation, they were very happy to talk and that was so much fun.
So I’m going boil down what I learned into a pastiche. A few people were okay to go on the record, so I’ll mention them by name.
Lisa interviews the Sock Monster, Lish McGlovin
But after a series of interesting and animated conversations, I was able to draw a conclusion.
No one has a clue where publishing is going.
If you ask a small publisher they will tell you the future is theirs. A larger publisher will tell you that they are all about great content and the delivery method is always evolving. I heard from a lot of people that ebooks are it and also Ipad interactivity. I also heard from other people that no one thinks real solid books are going anywhere—instead that they may become even more valued as objects of art, that ebooks, Ipad apps and traditional books can all co-exist in one happy world.
The one thing, though, that everyone, seems to agree about is change. Things are shifting and changing right under our feet. But no one seemed particularly downbeat or nervous. In fact, they seemed happy to embrace the unknown and actually be excited about it.
I did have a nice little chat with my publisher, Kate Kaynak of Spencer Hill Press, and she believes that there is plenty of room for publishers of all sizes. That change is good, and in fact presents more opportunities for everyone, including smaller publishing houses and indie writers.
It’s an exciting time. You can feel the buzz in the air.
Eventually, I found my way back to Kate Milford and Lish McGlovin who then pointed out that indeed, Kate herself was on the cutting edge of publishing innovation. With her were copies of the arc for her forthcoming independently published novella, The Kairos Mechanism. Lish nodded her little horned head and said, “See? Kate’s leading the way to the future of publishing!”
I had this conversation while waiting online to get an arc of Suzanne Lazear’s new book, Innocent Darkness. While sitting on the floor chatting with Lish and Kate, I also started talking with the young lady sitting next to us, who happened to be a blogger from Virginia named Jessica Coates of Book and Sensibility. Turns out I was so impressed with young Jessica that I walked her over to the Spencer Hill Press booth and got her an internship with them.
So, in conclusion, the coolest thing in this brave new world is interaction. And I don’t mean Ipad interactivity (which seemed to have everyone intrigued)—I mean human interactivity. Writers interacting with readers. Bloggers interacting with publishers, etc. BEA is a hive of interactivity and it is just plain awesome.And the best thing about it is the arc booty I took away—I really got the hang of that Arc Sharking thing on my second trip back. If you do ever come to BEA, bring a sturdy shopping bag and comfortable shoes!
from Left to right, Jessica Coates with Lish McGlovin, Kate Milford
|Suzanne Lazear holding Lish McGovern|
The people at Spencer Hill Press--From Left to right, Marie Romero, Associate Editor, Vikki Claffone, Editor (she is my editor!), Trisha Wooldridge, Editor, and Kate Kaynak, Editor