Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The State of The Industry: As Evidenced by Book Expo America

This is from my "In the News" feature in the coming edition of my Sharing with Writers newsletter. Those who would like to subscribe may do so automatically by going to to fill in the subscribe box in the left column of the home page or clicking on the "newsletter" link at the top of the page for more information.

In the News: Evidence of recession abounded at BEA. Some big publishers like Random House cut way back on their booth space and two of my favorites, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt didn't show up at all. That the show was 21% smaller is disturbing, of course, but worse is that those publishers who did show up appeared to be cutting back on marketing funds even for blockbuster authors (evidenced by fewer signs and even fewer of the usual giveaways). Even reader copies were hard to come by.

Of course, publishers who buy/rent booths have been saying for a long time that there are few book buyers on the floor and fewer librarians, who historically are the people publishers want to reach.

So, the good news? The opportunities to reinvent publishing seem to be widening. POD is becoming more and more accepted (venerable publisher Perseus put together an anthology of first lines from show attendees' contributions and published it on demand in two days) and there was that great Espresso Book Machine we've been hearing about that will produce an entire (darn good) paperback in less than four minutes right in-store at the whim of the customer-reader.

And, oh yes. New York was gorgeous. They had celebrated Fleet Week only a few days before, had just started refurbishing Times Square, and the place was alight. Maybe residents can see they are in a depression but a visitor would never, never know.

(Some facts were gleaned from David Ulin's article in the LA Times's Calendar section on Monday, June 1.)

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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