Well, that was something. I’m not sure what exactly, but it definitely was not nothing. A few scattered thoughts, observations, and curiosities from the exhibition floor of Book Expo America:
- While autographs have never really interested me, apparently they interest a great many of the bookish stripe. I wasn’t too surprised by the giant lines for Lemony Snicket or Fergie, but Gary Shteyngart? That’s when you realize you are in bizarro-world.
- Self-publishing is out of control--and a lot of desperate-looking authors around the self-publishing booths.
- Not as many review copies handed out as I somehow thought there would be. Picked up advance copies for new books by Paul Auster, Per Petterson, and Philp Roth (maybe I was only there for the “P” giveaways), but most of the available titles were decidedly second or third tier, though it makes sense; the new Franzen doesn’t really need hype.
- HarperCollins was giving out digital advance copies, and I picked up a stub for Elmore Leonard’s new novel Dijbouti. Now if I only had something to read it on…
- iPads destroyed Kindles. Saw the little buggers everywhere, but nary a Kindle in sight. Spent a couple of minutes with the enTourage eDGe. Verdict? Welcome to the dustbin of history, fella. And the strangest capitalization scheme since NyQuil.
- The librarians were as thick as thieves. Seemed to travel in pods of 6-8 regularly and gave the proffered goods extreme scrutiny. As I tweeted from the floor, they are the band kids of the publishing business; they aren't exactly glamorous, but they are serious, tight-knit, and you ignore them at your peril.
- I was weirdly fascinated by the booths for bookstore supplies: shelving, display options, and bookish impulse buys. Who knew what cardboard could do?
- Even middle-aged executives can be lured with candy.
- There are a too many e-publishing answers looking for a question. We need some consolidation and standardization here.
- Amazon and Apple were surprisingly absent, so there were TWO 800-pound gorillas in the room.
- Google really, really wants us not to be nervous about Google Books. And that’s making people nervous.
- Shocked at the floor-space for children’s books. Seemed like a quarter to a third of the show. Now if only those ankle-biters would grow up to be readers.
All in all, an interesting, though not riveting, experience. Glad I went once. Looking forward to the Book Blogger Convention tomorrow--setting my nerd phaser to maximum.