bookoxygen at BEA 2013

Bookfest? I think I would call it a freebie-fest. I’ve been to book fairs before, lots of them, in Frankfurt, London, Oslo and Berlin. I’m accustomed to them being rather oppressive trade shows heavily packed with meetings at which publishers talk to publishers or distributors or agents.

But Book Expo in New York is something else. Despite it only opening to the public on Saturday, yesterday (Thursday) which was the first full day seemed to be as full of punters as it was of professionals. And why? Because it’s a beanfeast of giveaways. Oh, the books, the bags, the food, the inflatable pets. (Yes, very cute actually – and thank you to for the terrier…)

Some books you just help yourself to, from the stacks propping up the central desk at the publisher’s booth. For others, you have to line up, in order to get a signed copy. I could have met Dennis McFarland, Jonathan Lethem, Walter Walker, Marisha Pessl, and many many more. But I didn’t have the time nor the muscle to carry all the bounty.

Moreover, you had to pity them, the authors, resembling prize beasts at a cattle call. Not only were they endlessly signing copies on stands while publishers’ publicists managed the queues, holding signs announcing, fittingly: End of the Line. But at the back of the vast show arena was another space where they were herded in sets for group visitations by fans or bloggers or people who had somehow gained access and wanted proofs and signatures.

I was sorry to miss Jo Baker and Norman Rush (both signing today) but did have 10 seconds with gracious Nancy Horan who wrote Loving Frank and whose Under the Wide and Starry Sky comes next, a novel based on the life of Robert Louis Stevenson. And Racha Zeidan kindly gave me a copy of Great Body No Diet which will surely come in handy.

I didn’t spend much time looking at the electronic publishing stands, of which there were a great many, nor the children’s publishing booths, where lavishness was also the order of the day – posters, books, you name it were there for the taking.

No, I was happy with my mild haul of catalogues, one or two proofs, show guides and obedient inflatable terrier, which was about all I could carry. Next year I will take a leaf out of some of the other early attendees and turn up with a portable crate.

One comment on “bookoxygen at BEA 2013

  1. wrinkly old hippy on said:

    What a life. Can’t think why so many people fantasise about being a Writer.