Editorial by Steven Rosato, Event Director, BookExpo America
Does a year make a difference?
A year makes a big difference or a small difference depending on how you look at it. We didn’t have an iPad to talk about last year, which is a seismic change to the landscape. On the other hand, books are still being bought and sold, authors are still promoting their books, and I sense a vibrancy and excitement in the industry that is unchanged from last year.
We made a decision at last year’s show to focus on our greatest strength which is our content. BEA is unique among conventions for the authors it attracts and the number of books which are showcased. It is about buzz. We made the conscious decision to create more buzz by building our Author Stages and this innovation was a huge success. This year, we have sought to build on this strong point by creating another Author Stage but even more importantly we’re building on our strength by moving the show to mid-week and by shortening the show floor hours to two days.
The net effect of this has been to create an environment where quality outweighs quantity.
Without a doubt, in terms of stellar author appearances and quality educational programming, this may be one of the best BEAs in history. While we are stripping the show of an extra day, we are only losing 4 hours in terms of overall exhibit hall time. By all accounts, the third day of BEA was widely perceived as useless. This is what we heard from our customers. So, what has this shortened schedule produced? It has created a convention where we have super events from beginning to end.
Notably, this change has also had an enormous impact on our Tuesday programming. Beginning with our joint BEA and ABA Plenary CEO panel on Tuesday morning and culminating with our Opening Night Keynote with Barbra Streisand in the evening, the day is a “full on” convention day. The Rights Center will be open all day and both ABA and BEA educational panels will be conducted throughout the day. It is a day of serious and productive business. Again, it’s all about quality versus quantity.
For the international community, which is critical and important to BEA, we hope the shortened show will also be a benefit. We recognize that attending BEA represents a big financial commitment for our international customers but New York City is the epicenter of publishing, and we have heard through the years that the international community likes the show in New York City because they can see so many important contacts. Certainly, some of this business is conducted outside the convention facility, in meetings at publishing houses, over lunch, during cocktails, and so on. BEA provides a focus and excuse for all this to happen. A slightly shortened schedule provides more opportunity for ancillary meetings while BEA remains a hub. This is a very real strength.
We have created a new program this year called New York Book Week. It is a way of bringing the literary community together to celebrate what we all have in common and to draw attention to the enormous amount of book activity that takes place in New York City. Again, BEA is a hub for celebrating literature, business, and authors in the wider community of the New York City metropolitan area.
This is the big picture and it is most important. Of course, at the show itself, in addition to the things I have mentioned, we have a myriad of programs and initiatives which are profoundly exciting and topical. Spain is the country of focus for our Global Market Forum and the Secretary of State of Spain will be in attendance in addition to a representative member of Spanish Royal Family. In addition, the IDPF Digital Book 2010 Conference will be taking place and has sold out with a record attendance of over 500 conferees. We have a DIY Conference on Monday, May 24 and the Book Blogger Convention will convene at Javits on Friday, May 28. It is a full week.
Does a year make a difference? The answer is a resounding “yes” and I am extremely confident that people will walk away from BEA 2010 talking about great things for their businesses along with what great event they just experienced. Each year allows us to fine tune and drill down on our strength. We listen to our customers because the day we don’t is the day BEA will cease to exist. We will always make changes based on their feedback and needs. The value of BEA has always been the audience we deliver and this is the standard by which we should be measured.
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