Book Expo America — also known as BEA — is one of the biggest events in the publishing and bookselling world, encompassing three days of educational sessions, author autograph sessions and an exhibit hall full of publishers showcasing their recent and upcoming books. Oh, and there’s been known to be a party or two.
Here are a couple of my highlights from Day 1 at BEA, which was focused largely on the education sessions:
Opening Plenary: The Value of the Book
- The panel discussion featured several publishing house CEOs as well as an author, agent and the head of the American Booksellers Association. A bit frustratingly, the discussion kept coming back to digital piracy and controlling content — I wish they’d taken a broader approach to the “value” of the book.
- Book industry people seem to really love to make analogies to the music industry and how digital music and iTunes killed the independent record store.
- Agent Esther Newberg suggested that paperbacks may be casualties of the e-book. Personally I think hardcovers face the biggest challenge, as the price for most new release hardcovers are getting prohibitively expensive.
- My favourite quote from the session came from Oren Teicher of the ABA:
Forget format. Focus on content and delivering it to the consumer, whatever way they want.
2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behaviour
- Chock full of graphs, pie charts and more statistics-nerd candy, this session provided an overview of the results of a very recent survey of consumers’ book-buying habits, completed less than a month ago.
- E-books and p-books are not mutually exclusive: people with dedicated e-reader devices tend to buy an equal number of e-books and physical books.
- The Mindshare to Marketshare Gap: 27% of avid readers (those who read more than 5 hours per week) say they prefer to shop at independent bookstores, but it’s not translating to actual store visits and sales.
- 26% of book-buyers admit to visiting independent bookstores to make their book selections, but then actually buy the book at a chain store or online bookseller.
- Check out the full presentation slides from Verso Advertising.
- IndieBound is a program initiated by the American Booksellers Association as a tool for independent bookstores to engage other local businesses in their own communities.
- There are so many opportunities for indie businesses to partner and support each other. I’m going to bring some of the IndieBound ideas back to Vancouver and see what sticks.
- According to IndieBound, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the community. When that $100 is spent at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community.
The New Reality: Alternative Business Models for Independent Bookstores
- Is selling books enough? The three bookstores featured on this panel are each trying unique and innovative programs to give themselves a competitive advantage.
- Examples included offering a bike-delivery service for next-day delivery of books, selling a funky kid’s clothing line on consignment alongside the children’s book section, and using an Espresso Book Machine (not to be confused with a coffee maker) to publish books for local authors.
- One interesting note was that the ‘buzz’ and publicity garnered by some of these initiatives often exceeds the actual additional revenue — one bookseller commented that they consider such initiatives an investment in showing their customers that the store is on the leading edge, not just a stodgy old bookstore.
Tomorrow: Day 2 of BookExpo will feature the opening of the Exhibit Hall with a wide range of new books, author signings and more. I’ll be tweeting some of the interesting and unique books: you can follow me at @erin_braincandy or search #bea10 on Twitter for all of the tweets from the event.