A year later, I am more interested than excited. I pay much more attention to publishing news, so nothing at BEA was really a surprise. Also, my reading list is longer now that it has ever been, so there's quite a bit less room for serendipity or experimentation. So I turned up at BEA more for the spectacle than for the surprise.
Here's a few things I saw:
1. I think the rise of self-publishing reduced the number of oddball publishers and authors at BEA. For the entry fee, they can do quite a bit more online and ensorcel unsuspecting readers directly.
2. Imprints from the Middle East had some seriously huge and beautiful booths. Though, much like a mall in Dubai, they were huge, beautiful, and empty.
3. It's all well and good to know that China has some human rights issues, but it's another thing to flip through an English language Chinese magazine and see absolutely no critique or observation of anything wrong with any aspect of Chinese life.
4. There was one guy sitting the lounge outside the registration area with a weird hat advertising his book PROVING GOD. He sat there alone and made no move to pitch anyone his book or move about at all. I guess they don't make evangelicals like they used to.
5. It's one thing to know that romance moves the most units; it's another thing to see the Harlequin autograph lines. And it's another thing to try to cross those lines to saner ground.
6. Florence Henderson does not blink. Not in a metaphorical sticks-to-her-guns way, but in a Madame Tussaud's way.
7. The coolest thing I saw was Xerox's on-demand publishing set-up. This thing is basically the size of a washer and dryer and can spit out a pretty attractive paperback in a few minutes. I'm currently wondering if they will accept my left kidney as payment.
8. In case there was an doubt, I am an elitist pig.
9. It's really too bad that the walk from Penn Station to the Javits Center is one of the 9 ugliest walks in Manhattan. The other eight are from behind dumpsters in the Lower East Side back to your apartment.
10. I thought e-galleys would be a big thing this year. I was wrong. You know what is a big thing? Publishers scared shitless of e-publishing.
11. Best way to spend your publicity dollars at BEA: complex carbohydrates. Cookies, whoopie pies, pastries, bagels, whatever. For 100 bucks worth of Oreos, you can have every librarian in New England visit your booth. Of course, then you have every librarian in New England at your booth. Kidding, librarians, kidding. We all love you. Now. Back in grade school you creeped us out.
12. The L. Ron Hubbard landing craft was a bit smaller this year, though it was more informative. Did you know you can get Dianetics in over 37 Earth languages?
13. I really want to care about self-published novels. I saw nothing that moved the needle for me though. (Keep it clean, Ape. Keep it clean).
14. Blogging about literature is exponentially more interesting that the publishing business. And more relevant too.
15. YA literature.....the enthusiasm for the genre blows me away. I wish literary fiction had as much juice going for it. Lines of people 100 deep waiting for autographs from people I had never heard of. Considerably shorter lines for Karl Marlantes autographs. Sigh.
16. Tote bag hoarding was in full effect. Saw one surly homonculus with about 12 bags completely empty freebies on his shoulder. Disconcerting.
17. A truckload of digital publishing businesses who all provide weirdly vague services. Can't help but think this is a kind of carpetbagging before the war is over.
18. Couldn't swing a dead cat without seeing something using an Ipad. I mean, my dead cat kept hitting those bastards.
19. Didn't realize it until I was out on the showfloor, but I am about ten times as interested in the Book Blogger Convention than anything the publishing business is hawking. Not a great sign for them.
Buy books mentioned in this post (or anything else, actually) using the below links, and The Reading Ape gets a small referral fee to defray our nominal operating costs.