Weekly Recap: BookExpo America, Google, UK’s Hay Festival

In Feature Articles by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

June 2009

(Read the recap in Chinese here)

This week marked the official start of summer in North America, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon for the tens of thousands of American publishing people who were undoubtedly still recovering their voices from the four day extravaganza known as BookExpo America.

The consensus on BEA was…no consensus. Opinions ranged from “business as usual,” to “woe are we,” to genuine excitement at what looks like a fantastic list of summer and fall books. Possible blockbusters will be hitting the stores from authors such as Lorrie Moore, Pat Conroy and, of course, Dan Brown. If any author can put a silver lining on 2009 for bummed-out booksellers it’s going to be Dan Brown, even if most bookseller will have to price The Lost Symbol at or near cost to serve as a loss leader to lure shoppers.

So, on Monday we recapped the big event, questioning whether Random House’s token floor presence was worthy of largest publisher in North America and discussed how small publishers were indulging in a little Schadenfreude at the conglomerate publisher’s expense. “Welcome to our world,” seemed to be their manta.

Tuesday we interviewed a trio of Europeans to get their take on the fair. These included Anne-Solange Nobel, foreign rights director of Gallimard in Paris; Grzegorz Gauden, director of The Book Institute in Krakow, Poland; and Patricia Pasades from the international department of Publidisa in Seville, Spain.

Wednesday, the UK Publishers Association CEO Simon Juden revealed his opinion of the Google Book Settlement (it’s the “least bad outcome,” he said), the state of the UK economy (not good), and ways in which the PA is working with the British government to fight digital pirates.

Thursday, our correspondent Tolu Ogunlese reported back from the Guardian Hay Festival where a panel of publishing A-listers, including Publisher of the Year Jamie Byng of Canongate, representatives from Sony and Google, and chief executive officer of literary agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD) Caroline Michel, pondered our digital future.

Bonus material this past week included a video interview with the marketer who helped make Will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” video for Barack Obama a viral hit; an account of the BEA Tweetup; a look at the likely indie sleeper movie hit of the summer, Away We Go; a remembrance of Kerala poet Kamala Das, who died this past Sunday; and a consideration of Canongate and Atlantic, which both won Nibbies in what was likely a close contest.

Next week look for more stories from points all over the globe, including Germany, South Africa and the Caribbean. Have a great weekend.

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About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.