Just returned from Mr. Obie Joe's visit to the BEA Book Expo in New York City. Given it was our virgin visit to the Book Expo (previous incarnations had us there as journalists), we had no expectations. Except to say hello to old and new friends. We had been advised to map out a dead-certain strategy to cover the numerous booths, programs, author signings and presentations. How we tried, but we were soon dazzled and redirected like greedy children inside the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
So we concentrated on gathering catalogs, business cards, and some books (BTW -- what was with the miserly handouts in the children's booth?). The networking became giddy at a certain point in the overheated Javits Center: in the span of one hour, Mr. Obie Joe asked Nora Ephron about her neck (we know, cringe city), chatted about viral marketing with Jane Friedman, cajoled a book from a Kensington Books rep, and had the most interesting conversation with author Abigail Thomas.
The previous day we attended the programs for African American titles. The genre is wide, with titles from self-published authors to major houses all competing for the same space. It's about the hustle, not the hype, so the programming was refreshing for the content on tools on promotion, marketing, and bookstore negotiations. More, though, more, is needed. Mr. Obie Joe thinks next year's AA programming could include commentary on the status of the political voice in AA literature, the explosion of YA titles, and integrating street lit promotional techniques to standard titles. (Ms. Villaroasa...give us a call)
Next year in L.A. we promise to stay more than just the day-and-a-half we had. And to stay on task.