On ‘BookExpo Wednesday’: Pre-Show Programming Highlights

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

With BookExpo’s trade-show floor open on June 1 and 2, the May 31 ‘BEA Wednesday’ features programming aimed at industry professionals in several key contexts.

At BookExpo’s BookCon 2015, produced by Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP, who speaks on May 31. Image: Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Books, Data, Growth
As the meeting requests start coming in faster, US publishing industry players headed for BookExpo in New York City (May 31-June 4) are busy with the usual balancing act of conference events they’d like to see and business meetings.

While BookExpo’s trade-show floor days are being adjusted this year, the familiar sessions—sometimes referred to as “education” sessions, other times as “conference” sessions—will be going forward.

This year, there’s no major co-located or self-produced conference on the bill in the sense of the IDPF conference that for years was “downstairs at the Javits” on the day before show floor opened. Nevertheless, there are events planned on the Wednesday of BEA week, May 31, that come included with the cost of admission, organized for show producer ReedPOP by consultant Sally Dedecker.

The overall program can be accessed here.

Big Books Ahead

Of course, for many, the highlight on the 31st will be the Adult Book Editors’ Buzz Panel (May 31, 1:45-3 p.m., Room IE 12-14), with its predictions of coming season heavyweights. Bookseller Annie Philbrick, who runs stores in Connecticut and Rhode Island, will moderate. And the three-committee evaluation process behind the event has yielded this list of finalists:

  • Unraveling Oliver, Liz Nugent, Scout Press, to publish August 22;
  • Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo, Alfred A. Knopf, for August 22;
  • My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent, Riverhead Books, August 29;
  • The World of Tomorrow, Brendan Mathews, Little, Brown, for September 5;
  • The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin, Putnam, publishing January 9; and
  • The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn, William Morrow, for January 23.
Consumer Data’s New Currency

That morning, the day will have begun with a special two-hour look at various facets of the industry’s developing understanding of data’s place in its search for consumer connection. In an interesting bit of timing, Amazon has just launched its new “Amazon Charts” bestseller listings that utilize data from Kindle readers and Audible listeners to develop pictures of where book consumption is focused.

In our recent article with Copyright Clearance Center’s Christopher Kenneally of Beyond the Book, we have Outsell’s David Worlock talking about publishers’ evolving roles toward “being the person who adds the discoverability,” as he puts it, “or the access, or all sorts of other things.”

The guiding factor behind these adjustments to publishers’ work and character is data, of course, as the industry builds its capacity to collect, interpret, and respond to it.

Consumer Centric Data: The New Currency of Publishing (May 31, 9:30-11:30 a.m.) is a session geared to look at just this factor and its effects on the industry’s development today. In a fast-paced series of presentations moderated by Publishing Perspectives, we’ll be hearing from a carefully chosen group of specialists.

  • Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP not only is behind this year’s BookExpo and BookCon, but he’s an expert in the identification and cultivation of major fanbases.
  • Jo Henry of Nielsen in London is among the most familiar industry analysts and will give us a look at the UK’s children’s market and what data is revealing about it.
  • Kristen McLean of NPD is our US children’s market expert, an analyst who parses her researchers’ data for insights and trends in a robust sector of the market.
  • David Burleigh, who heads up branding and marketing at OverDrive, has a deep commitment to our comprehension of today’s digital media in libraries and schools.
  • Annie Stone, BookBub’s international accounts manager, brings direct consumer-result data insight into a portfolio that includes the UK, Canadian, and Australian markets.
  • And Michele Cobb, who spoke with Publishing Perspectives ahead of The Bookseller’s FutureBook conference in London, heads the Audio Publishers’ Association, an organization riding perhaps the most expansive sectors of the trade in recent seasons.

At BookExpo the last time it was at New York City’s Jacob Javits Center, in 2015. Image: Porter Anderson

Publishing’s Future Growth and Profit

During the afternoon, another key session is led by legal, business, and professional consultant Jon Fine, whose practice in the media landscape has helped design The Future of Publishing: Building New Opportunities for Growth and Profitability as a meeting of the minds on emerging markets, new tech, reader trends, and more.

  • David Ewalt of Forbes Magazine specializes in media confluence, the coming together of gaming, tech, and business that helps blur the lines of entertainment success today.
  • Renée Mauborgne of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute is a leading management strategist and Fellow with the World Economic Forum.
  • Peter Hildick-Smith, familiar to many in publishing, is the founder of Codex-Group and charts trends and influences in pre-market testing.
  • And Dominique Raccah, of course, is one of the best-known independent publishers in the States, leading Sourcebooks to become the US’ 10th biggest house.
International Market Forum

For more on the sessions developed for May 31 by Vienna-based consultant and BEA international affairs director Rūdiger Wischenbart, see our separate writeup here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.