BookExpo America Comes to L.A.

Fewer librarians this year, but lots of lively discussion about books, audio The West Coast location of BookExpo America May 29–June 1 meant fewer attendees overall this year (28,494), but that didn’t dim the enthusiasm of the estimated 1800 or so librarians (down from last year’s whopping 3,832 librarians) who thronged the Los Angeles Convention Center. With the American Library Association annual conference scheduled for neighboring Anaheim barely four weeks later, and the high cost of travel, many East Coast and Midwest librarians stayed away. Nevertheless, there was a strong California and West Coast contingent. Those who came were courted by publishers at a more subdued affair than that held in publishing central in New York in 2007.

Announcements of change

There was plenty of news even as the show opened, though much of it had to do with formats other than print books. On the heels of the demise of Microsoft’s digitization initiative (see p. 16), Ingram Digital announced that it would work with publishers to transition their Live Search Book files from Microsoft to Ingram Search and Discover. Simon & Schuster (S. & S.) stated that it would add 5000 titles to its Amazon Kindle offerings (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was a featured speaker), and Wiley reported that it was partnering with LibreDigital to deliver content (e.g., customized college textbooks) across all formats, including online and downloadable, whatever the device.

Digital audio

OverDrive and LibreDigital also agreed to partner on expanded distribution to libraries and retailers on digital rights management (DRM)–protected ebooks and downloadable audio. eMusic “welcomed” S. & S. Audio, Tantor, BBC Audiobooks, Listen & Live, and others to those already testing its nascent DRM-free downloadable audios with consumers. And eMusic CEO David Pakman, during a BEA program, declared DRM dead. It is clear that many expect the CD to reach extinction. In an Audies’ first (the Audio Publishers Association [APA] awards), a novel created exclusively for audio and only available as a download, The Chopin Manuscript (Audible), won Audiobook of the Year. And the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and APA have launched the public service campaign Get Caught Listening, a brand extension of the Get Caught Reading campaign, to espouse the virtues of audiobook listening in all formats. In late June, OverDrive, too, was to have launched a community outreach campaign via a Digital Bookmobile national tour stopping at all its partner libraries.

Print rules

Despite all the talk of the Kindle, ebooks, and downloadable audio, physical books dominated the convention center’s two cavernous halls, where librarians were treated to numerous advance reading copies and audiobooks and met with publishers and authors. Phoenix PL’s Kathleen Sullivan, who came looking for books on raw food and Native Americans, discovered both at Book Publishing Company, a Tennessee house with a Native Voices imprint that also delivered up “a book on raw food—and a DVD, too.” Gretchen Mitchell, Jacksonville PL, FL, scouted authors for the library’s Much Ado About the Book. “We want to know who we can get for what we can offer,” said Mitchell. “It helps if the author has a soft spot for libraries.” Many collection managers got up close and personal with authors, editors, and library publicists at librarian-centered events like LJ’s Day of Dialog (see p. 15), the AAP dinner, Librarian Book Buzz, and Random House/LJ breakfast. Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything (Spiegel & Grau), who once worked at the Menlo Park Library, CA, admitted she not only checked her Amazon sales stats but the number of holds at Los Angeles PL.

Book buzz and celebs

Among the books with buzz (librarians who attended Day of Dialog, p. 15, got a preview of these) were Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day (Morrow, Sept.), a saga set after World War I, Michelle Moran’s The Heretic Queen (Crown, Sept.), the follow-up to her debut, Nefertiti, and Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader (Morrow, Aug.), an originally self-published title set in contemporary Salem whose rights sold to over 20 countries. (For more book buzz, see “Hot Tickets.") BEA had its share of celebs, too. Where else can you turn a corner and see Salman Rushdie, Lehane, Neil Gaiman, Nikki Giovanni, or Ray Bradbury, as well as film/TV icons like William Shatner? For author videos, photos, and additional coverage, check out LJ’s homepage and the In the Bookroom blog from May 31–June 13.
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