Wednesday, May 24, 2023

US Book Show Lacks Climactic Ending



The US Book Show, which just took place this past week, is not Book Expo America. For those who once attended BEA (or ABA before that), they would be sorely disappointed with this iteration. But if you came into it with no expectations or competing memories, you might say the US Book Show was mildly interesting, though it certainly has room to improve.

BEA used to be held in a convention center, where 20,000 to 40,000 people converged over a few days to showcase thousands of new and upcoming books, offer educational seminars about publishing, marketing, and writing, have hundreds of authors do signings and book giveaways, and where members of the book industry networked — with celebrities and best-selling authors in the same room as self-published authors, members of the media, literary agents, publicists, editors, bookstores, wholesalers, book manufacturers, and librarians.

The US Book Show came about a few years ago when covid sidelined the book publishing industry’s largest event in North America and Publishers Weekly stepped in to piece together a digital-only event. This year is their first attempt at making it a hybrid event, where people can attend several days in person while others can take it in via zoom.

I had not viewed the first few editions of the show because I felt it should not just move to online only — it is an event that should be in-person. You want to feel the energy, not watch passively on a screen.

The US Show may be here to stay. The industry was rumored before covid hit to wanting to find ways to scale down or change the show that was seeing annual declines in attendance. The event was becoming too costly to participate in or attend — while its founding reasons for existing were negated by the footprint of the Internet and Amazon. It used to be a show where bookstore buyers (when more indies existed) and librarians (when budgets were bigger) came to get a deal from publishers on backlist titles — and to get catalogues revealing big books for the fall.

However, this new show was small. Instead of a cavernous convention center, there were two auditoriums in an NYU building housing the participants.

I didn’t count much more than 500 people in attendance of the day that I attended. There were no educational seminars, no parties, no booths, and little wheeling and dealing. It was a well-orchestrated advertisement for a select few publishers and authors who were interviewed on the two stages each hour. It lacked real star power and seemed a bit removed from bringing together what book publishing is today.

Still, as I said, if you forget BEA, this show is a nice opportunity to hear a few authors — some known, some not — and to be in the room with people who love books.


My hope is that BEA gets resurrected and that it returns bigger and better than ever.


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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