Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts on BEA 2008

Five of us from PSB winged our way to Los Angeles on May 28th to attend BookExpo America. I had never been to a book trade show so my expectations were high and filled with curiosity. Our American Airlines flight was packed and the six-hour plus trip interminable. But we arrived in sunny Southern California and found our way to Hollywood, where we were to stay for four days of hard work, good fun and discovery.

The four days in LA were quite eye opening and I learned a great deal about bookmaking, bookselling and booksellers. I found most book people to be enthusiastic, mildly competitive and most importantly totally involved and in love with their work. The educational meetings arranged by the American Booksellers Association (independent booksellers) were most enlightening and it was a treat to hear events organizers express their experiences, thoughts and ideas. One workshop discussed green retailing, now seen more than ever as an important part of customer service.

Besides meeting many authors, the most extraordinary thing was the reception I received when I mentioned I was from PSB. All the publishers, authors, and publicists heaped praise upon the store and were infinitely positive. Often I would hand a publicist our press kit then launch in to my spiel about how great our store was and invite them for a visit. It was heartwarming to know how respected and appreciated PSB is by so many people.

We all attended many author breakfasts, lunches and some dinners. For one breakfast Eoin Cofler was a brilliant MC and we were regaled with stories by such authors as Sherman Alexie, Neil Gaiman and Judy Blume.

Thomas Friedman from the NY Times spoke; his new book will debut in August. Entitled, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America. It is described as a, “manifesto for our climate-challenged future". We all shuddered at what he had to say.

We had the great good fun of seeing our old colleague Emily Pullen, who now lives in LA and works at the Skylight Book store.

There were sightings of many authors; Jane had a glimpse of Barbara Walters signing her autobiography, Audition. I literally bumped into singer Dionne Warwick, who has written a children’s book. Local authors Dennis Lehane, Julia Glass and MT Anderson attended as well. All in all this was a fascinating experience and well worth the effort.

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