Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Expo America 2011

Well, Book Expo America 2011 has come and gone, and, ironically, I missed out on the event completely. Why? Because I was too busy making books to leave the office.

Irony is funny sometimes.

Still, plenty of people from my company did manage to make the trip into New York City and the Javitz Center, and from all accounts, this year's show was way less...depressing...than last year's.

In fact, it seems like things were downright upbeat at the 2011 edition of BEA.

But as with anything in publishing these days, you need to peel back the layers and look at what's really going on. Traditional publishers are having trouble making the shift to digital--something that, in today's world of bleeding edge technology, is staggeringly frustrating and, frankly, incredibly stupid--and at big shows like BEA, the major publishers do their best to put on a smiley face.

Now, certainly there was more to smile about at this year's BEA as opposed to last year's show, which featured curtained booths from exhibitors who had to pull out of the show at the last minute because they couldn't afford to make the trip. And there was even a digital presence there this time around.

But it's funny.

Depending on who I speak to, the story changes. Anyone over a certain age has come back into the office and said things like, "Well, attendance was up, and that's a good thing," and "According to the numbers, book sales are up from last year."

Well, okay. But last year saw a cataclysmic year in the industry. Anyone remember Borders?

Anyone under a certain age that attended the show has said things like, "There wasn't enough digital product." Which, really, should be the title of the book about the publishing industry, once the whole thing collapses in on itself.

For a cold, hard, and so-common-sensical-it-hurts look at the state of publishing today, I recommend this article, over on BNET, written by Erik Sherman about Book Expo.

It's good reading, I promise.

And, if you happen to work in publishing, then you already know everything in the article is true, but it's just nice to see someone putting it out there so bluntly. Because everyone else on the planet recognizes the importance of digital books, except for the people making the decisions about them at the publishers--both big and small.

Hopefully, by next year's BEA, this won't even be an issue. But it's a safe bet that it will be...

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