The convention is vast, held in the huge Javitz Center in New York, stretching from one end of the building to the other, over several levels. If you work in publishing or do anything associated with books and/or authors, this is the place to be this week.
Day One of BEA had few exhibits, but networking and workshops, panels and interviews filled the day. Len Riggio ,Chairman of Barnes & Noble opened the event. He spoke of the importance of brick and mortar stores and shared his opinion that books are too expensive for the average person. His point was that, long ago, a book would cost half of the median minimum wage, but now it’s become too expensive, thus making books easily available to only the elite few who can afford them. Whether people agreed or disagreed was difficult to say, or how libraries were affected by this wasn’t discussed, the talk was a conversation starter for the convention.
This year’s BEA highlighted several things: Books to film, political books, non-fiction, children’s books and James Patterson. It didn’t matter what genre you were interested in Mr. Patterson has something for you.
The workshops this year talked a great deal about diversity and the need for it. International books bought by US publishers were also a popular topic.
Trends included a spike in sales for Children’s Books, though most of those were from backlist sales, meaning Dr. Seuss and the Bernstein Bears were being bought up by millennials who the industry saw as nostalgic buyers. Non-fiction also spiked dramatically, mostly political, history and self-help books. Genre fiction wasn’t doing as well, but print books were out-selling e-books by far. Admittedly, these statistics did not include self-published works.
There were many vendors selling non-book related or semi-book related items on the floor. Litjoy crates were a hot topic when experience-based reader connections were discussed.
Over the next few days I’ll go over specific trends, topics and items. For now, I’m back to BEA to learn more about the future of the book industry.