Andy’s Reflections on the Recent BookExpo America

The following is a guest post by Managing Editor Andy Ambraziejus about the recent  BookExpo America in New York. It’s not  your father’s book conference.

Informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, exhausting — I can ascribe all these adjectives to BookExpo America 2012 and its related events, which took place at Jacob Javits Center in New York City June 3-7.  In keeping with the times, BEA, as it is popularly known and still sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, has morphed into so much more than a place to market and learn about printed books.

The sessions started on Sunday, June 3, with uPublishU, a separate daylong event on self-publishing.  With the growth of social media, the opportunities for self-publishing — and making good money at it — have grown as well.  Vendors such as Amazon’s CreateSpace, Smashwords, Lulu, PutbIt! from Barnes and Noble, and Kobo’s WritingLife, as well as many others, help authors produce good-quality books and distribute them to the various platforms, both print and electronic, where they can be found by readers.  Marketing, of course (as well as a lot of other work!), is left up to the author.  For some authors it’s daunting.  For authors with an entrepreneurial spirit, it opens up new possibilities.  And for E. L. James, the author of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, who first self-published it as fan fiction and then, after some reworking, self-published it on The Writer’s Coffee Shop, a virtual e-book publisher based in Australia, it has opened up a whole new world.  She now has a contract with Random House, the trilogy has sold 10 million copies, and there’s no knowing where this publishing phenomenon will stop.

On Monday and Tuesday another separate but overlapping conference took place:  IDPF — the International Digital Publishing Forum. It’s no secret to anybody how much digital publishing has grown, and all publishers, including AMACOM, are working hard to adapt to this new environment.  Are digital sales cannibalizing print sales?  Should digital books carry DRM (Digital Rights Management) or not?  What’s happening with physical book stores?  How do people discover books in the digital world?  How do we harness the power of social media? All these questions and many more were explored at various panels and talks given by publishers, authors, and marketing experts.

June 5-7 was BEA itself, the tried-and-true and still valuable forum for publishers, authors, and interested readers to mingle and check out the publishing scene.  To some attendees the conference seemed smaller, even diminished, but preliminary attendance figures were good.  BEA still presents a great opportunity to meet authors and other publishers, scope out what is being published by various houses big and small,  scoop up those advance galleys (yes, they still exist!) and see celebrities (Dan Rather, Neil Young, Patti Smith, Kirstie Alley, Jane Seymour, among others).  One could also play with new e-reading devices in the Digital Discovery Zone. And for the hard-working publishing professionals, it’s still a great way to catch up with old friends, run into long-lost colleagues, sell or buy some rights, and get excited about all the new possibilities and publishing forms that exist in this day and age.

Andy Ambraziejus is AMACOM’s Managing Editor. He started working for AMACOM in August 1999. He runs the Production Department, which includes the Associate Editors who work on the editorial side of things getting the books copyedited, proofread, index, and designed. Lydia Lewis, the Production Manager, is also part of the department of course. Lydia works with our typesetters and printers, among many other tasks. You can follow Andy on twitter at @AndyAmbraziejus.

Earlier posts by Andy:

Introducing AMACOM…Andy

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