So whatâ€™s the lone bagpiper dressed in a kilt (is that redundant) doing at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City? That was just one of the many unusual gimmicks used to promote books at the publishing industries giant Book Expo America (BEA) last week.
I forget if he was there to promote a cookbook with recipes for haggis or a book on tartansÂ¸ but it doesnâ€™t matter. Not when the BEA comes to town-itâ€™s the modern day equivalent of Barnum & Bailey mixed with a snake oil pitchman. I made a quick trip to New York City to attend the BEAÂ¸ and the first-Â ever Book Bloggers Convention which was being held in conjunction with BEA.
For those who donâ€™t have the foggiest idea what BEA is, itâ€™s a trade show where the very biggest publishers and the very small publishers pitch their wares. They come to sell books to bookstores, librarians and to critics.
One way they do that is to make it fun and give away swag in the form of free books and book-related gewgaws. I scored an Advance Reading Copy of author Michael Connellyâ€™s new thriller â€œReversalâ€along with a signed copy of Mika Brzezinskiâ€™s new book â€œAll Things at Onceâ€, signed by both Mika and â€œMorning Joeâ€ Scarborough, co-host of the morning talk show.
Lines for some authors twisted throughout Javits Center especially for Justin Croninâ€™s â€œThe Passageâ€ while other authors needed pitchmen to attract attention. A great buzz at BEA can be a make it or break it for publishers. I visited with Michigan publisher Carl Sams II who was busily promoting his 10th anniversary edition of â€œStranger in the Woodsâ€ and he said at one BEA confab he locked down an order that letâ€™s just said made his day or better said, his year.
Just across the aisle from Sams, Imagine Publishing had brought in Peter and Paul to sing and pitch Peter Yarrowâ€™ s new book â€œThe Night Before Christmasâ€. Paul Stookey hails from Birmingham Michigan and attended MSU before he struck out for the Village. For swag the publisher handed out a CD of Peter Paul and Mary doing “The Night Before Christmas”.
The BEA may not be as big as it once was, but it is still massive and comfortable shoes are the rigeur of the day. So, who do I run into as soon a start my tour- Bill Cusumano from Nicolaâ€™s Books in Ann Arbor Michigan. He and Nicola were in town to scout out hot books, but also to make connections for author tours at their store. Nicolaâ€™s is known by publishers as a great location for an author event.
I followed another long line to Brilliance Audiofrom Grand Haven Michigan to find out why people were waiting in line when Sean Geary of BrillianceÂ comes up to me and says â€œGo Spartansâ€. I thought how could he know? He saw my perplexed look and pointed to my Spartan lapel pin.
Heâ€™s an MSU grad and one of the sales reps for one of the largest audio book companies in the country. By the wayÂ Rick RiordanÂ was signing a DVD of his book â€œThe Red Pyramidâ€.
And thatâ€™s just a few of the things that BEA offers a bibliophile and book blogger. Tomorrow Iâ€™ll tell you about the Book Blogger Convention and more swag, but donâ€™t ever say “free” books.