BookExpo Touts Its New Logo and an Emphasis on Personal Engagement

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As its attendance and exhibition levels declined in recent years, BookExpo this year is emphasizing face-to-face contact to draw book-business players.

The 2019 BookExpo pitch to the industry revolves around the spontaneous personal contact the trade show provides participants, something often seen in the various show-floor stages’ audience areas before and after events. Image from BookExpo 2018: Porter Anderson

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

Connecting With Industry Peers
As we begin to clear some of the first major European trade-show and book-fair events for the year, mailings from New York City’s BookExpo (May 29 to 31) are coming at a faster rate, with appeals for exhibitors and bits of programming on tap.

This show has seen some challenges, particularly having had something of a misfire last year, when a heavy emphasis booksellers and their importance to the business attracted fewer booksellers than in the past.

With waning attendance figures and a shrinking exhibition footprint, BookExpo also watched its rights trading center move to the Metropolitan Pavilion, renamed the New York Rights Fair a venture of BolognaFiere and Publishers Weekly.

The resulting complaints and confusions have led organizers of BookExpo and New York Rights Fair to work together and return the rights-trading center to the Jacob Javits Center this year, eliminating slow bus shuttles between the venues.

Perhaps in a sign of the times for American bookselling and the inventory diversification many stores have had to deploy, BookExpo is putting in a dedicated exhibition space for vendors of non-book retail items, that area to be called Unbound, like the name of the reader-funded publishing house in the UK.

With Ingram likely to be the dominating exhibitor again this year, the programming is stressing “the buzz, excitement and passionate discussions” of IRL (in real life) trade show over Internet interactions. To that end, BookExpo is renewing its “speed dating” session for booksellers and publicists and adding a new iteration with editors.

What may be an interesting new focus will be the designation of a stage on the show floor for presentations from independent publishers’ authors and editors, something that sounds like a smart move. Coverage indicates that the show is working to help independent publishers with travel costs in some cases to help ground this part of the programming.

Breakfast Speakers

In terms of some of the major set pieces of the annual event, the lineups of trade authors speaking at the breakfast event series have been announced.

Thursday Adult Book and Author Breakfast

The Thursday morning breakfast will feature Trevor Noah author of his forthcoming second memoir (Spiegel & Grau /Penguin Random House); Barbara Kingsolver, author of Unsheltered (HarperCollins Publishers); Nicholas Sparks, author of a new love story coming this fall (Grand Central / Hachette); and Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.).

Actors and comedians Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, authors of The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (Penguin Random House), will co-host the event.

Friday Children’s Book and Author Breakfast

The Friday morning breakfast will feature Jason Reynolds, author of Miles Morales (Marvel Press), Patina (Simon & Schuster) and Long Way Down (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Atheneum Books for Young Readers); Marieke Nijkamp, author of Before I Let Go(Sourcebooks Fire); Jennifer Weiner, author of Little Bigfoot, Big City (Aladdin); and Isla Fisher, author of Marge in Charge(HarperCollins Children’s Books).

Host of NBC’s Today Savannah Guthrie, co-author of Princesses Wear Pants (Abrams Books for Young Readers) will host the event.

Book Buzz Sessions

The Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel, May 29 at 1:45 p.m.

How We Fight for Our Lives
Saeed Jones
Simon & Schuster, October 8

My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell
William Morrow, January 7, 2020

The Secrets We Kept
Lara Prescott
Alfred A. Knopf, September 17

Such a Fun Age
Kiley Reid
Putnam Books/Penguin Random House, January 7, 2020

Uncanny Valley
Anna Wiener
MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020

The Warehouse: A Novel
Rob Hart
Crown, August 20

The Young Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel, May 30 at 10:00 a.m.

Frankly in Love
David Yoon
Penguin Young Readers, September 10

The Grace Year
Kim Liggett
Wednesday Books, September 17

The Last True Poets of the Sea
Julia Drake
Hyperion, Publication Date: October 1

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
Brandy Colbert
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, August 20

Scars Like Wings
Erin Stewart
Delacorte Press, October 1

The Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz Panel, May 31 at 11:00 a.m.

Free Lunch
Rex Ogle
Norton Young Readers, September 10

Jinxed
Amy McCulloch
Sourcebooks Young Readers, January 7, 2020

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
Ibi Zoboi
Penguin Young Readers, August 27

Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home
Bridget Farr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 17

Weird Little Robots
Carolyn Crimi
Candlewick Press, October 1


More from Publishing Perspectives on the New York Rights Fair is here and on BookExpo is 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 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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