Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Expo Brings Out The Dreamers

I just got back from Book Expo, the annual book publishing industry convention and feel drained. I felt like I saw, heard, and touched so many people who want something but don’t quite know how to get it.

This was a big gathering of ego-centric people, dream-filled authors, and those who help the book world run efficiently.  Literary agents come, hoping to sell rights to overseas publishers and to sell a manuscript to a U.S. publisher.  Authors are hawking their new books or hoping to meet a literary agent or book publisher to sell their next book to.  Publishers are there hoping to drum up sales for their upcoming titles.  Some members of the media are there looking for a scoop, breaking news or a celebrity author citing.  Yes, it’s a giant room of hopes and dreams.

You see a hunger in the eyes of those exhibiting and attending.  These are the go-getters.  They spent thousands of dollars to display or attend.  There are banking on breaking through the clutter, not because they expect to be successful but because they hope to be.  They desperately want to be discovered.  Even those who are established brands, they need to hold onto what they have and to expand and grow where opportunities allow.

Few in the book industry can say they don’t need to sell any more books or get any more deals done. They may try to posture and position themselves as if they are in a position of strength, but everyone is really struggling just to hold onto what they have.

Why would I sound so negative or paint such a bleak picture?

Well, technology, competition, changing consumer habits, and new times challenge society when it comes to books. Here are some trends:

·         People are not as willing to buy what they can get for free.
·         They are not as available to read books for sale, when free books and other free content take up their time.
·         Technology has changed how books look, their availability, and even their quality, some of which hurts the industry.
·         Anyone can put out a book and everyone seems to be doing so, flooding the market with too many books, many of which are mediocre at best.
·         We need more brick-and-mortar retail outlets selling books so discoverability can be increased.

Don’t get me wrong – the industry is doing well.  It has to work doubly hard to keep pricing competitive, and make good bets, but it is thriving. However, it can unravel at any time.  I can see from the Book Expo that there are so many passionate, hungry, and eager companies and individuals searching for a way to get attention for themselves.  They may, to a degree, cannibalize one another but because so many people still want to be involved in book publishing, the industry will always have a strong talent pool to draw from.

But it’s hard to see so many people have a dream that while it’s pursued seems to get mourned.  As authors reach beyond the sky it seems like the sky may have already fallen on some of them.  But I admire their can-do spirit.  They are entrepreneurs and courageous voices.  They are the creative class that come with energy, vision, and a message.  Though most will fall short and fail miserably, someone has to breakthrough. It’s a bit of a lottery, but those who embark on their journey seem to be okay with those odds.  Many have no choice.

When you write or publish books or sell books, you do so because you love the written word.  You value ideas and stories and people over money, sales, and possessions.  Of course, these don’t have to be mutually exclusive – there’s nothing wrong with getting rich, especially when you do it honestly, passionately, and with society-serving intentions.

Book Expo is like a high school science fair.  Everyone’s on display, leading with big ideas or inventions.  In the end, they compete with each other if not themselves.  Some hearts will be broken along the way, but some dreams will come true. We’re for the latter.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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