Sunday, June 01, 2008

Book Sensory Overload

I returned yesterday afternoon from several days in Los Angeles attending the Author 101 University and Book Expo America. I met and exchanged business cards with hundreds of people and interacted with scores of other people where we simply talked about books. I haven't attended this particular trade show in at least 16 years. I intentionally planned few appointments and instead spent my time walking the exhibit floor, meeting people and looking at the variety of products.

It is impossible for this brief entry to capture much more than a flavor of what happened at this event. Book Expo is the largest trade show related to books in the country and has miles of exhibits from publishers. Because it is a closed trade show, you have to get a badge to get into the exhibit floor. Typically they have 25,000 to 30,000 people attending the event--publishers, retailers, authors, librarians, literary agents and many others associated with the publishing world attend this event.

The number of books which are produced annually only continues to increase. If you want to get an eye full of some current book statistics, then check out this article from last week's Publishers Weekly. If you are an author at such an event, it is easy to feel quite small in the midst of the hoopla and buzz. Because I drove to the event and had my car, I was able to bring home much more material than if I had flown to the event. Whether you were looking for something more traditional or bizzare, it was easily accessible at the trade show.

Yesterday for example, I saw three people dressed like they had stepped out of time machine in the Old West. Two women in frilly outfits and a man in a cowboy hat and dark suit with a vest. This trio was handing out fliers and wooden coins. The simple flier began, "WANTED Dead or Alive Publisher/ Producer/ Agent." This author was shopping a project--complete with her contact information and website. It wasn't for me but I applauded the creativity.

I was fascinated to pick up a copy of Merck's 1899 Manual. This slim leather-bound volume was all the medical information available to doctors and pharmacists in 1899 and only 192 pages.

Or the slim pocket-sized book, How to Survive Book Expo 2008. No matter what trade show event, this book was loaded with sound wisdom. It included seven rules from Rick Frishman and here's a few of them:

1. Wear comfortable shoes. Nobody cares what is on your feet.

2. This is a networking event: smile -- talk to people -- keep your head up as you walk the aisles. Be accessible.

5. Get to the floor early -- that's when you can really meet people.

I learned a tremendous amount of information and will be applying it to my literary agency and my own writing life in the days ahead. The follow-up will be one of the keys from the event.

I hope to have another chance to write more about some of the people and events from Book Expo but my time is a premium. I leave for Chicago and Write To Publish early Tuesday. At least this post give you a hint about some of what happened. The amount of energy can put anyone on book sensory overload.

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