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Highlights from BookExpo America 2016

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Chicago: what a wonderful city! We love the architecture, the public art, the integration of the lakefront into city life, the food … and so much more, including the city’s support of the local publishing community. It was a pleasure to have BookExpo America visit the Windy City once more.

As always, walking into the exhibit hall, one is bombarded by the panoply of sights and sounds: banners and posters and all those enthusiastic publishing people clamoring for a moment of one’s attention! So hard to see everything, but one tries nonetheless.

Here are some BEA 2016 highlights:

Jamie Lee Curtis was one of the many celebrity authors at BEA.

Jamie Lee Curtis was one of the many celebrity authors at BEA.

First and foremost, we love the parade of awesome authors signing galleys and chatting with fans. Here’s just a taste of this year’s author parade, all of whom were awaited by long lines of patient and thrilled readers/admirers: Jonathan Safran Foer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephenie Meyer, Mo Willems, Fredrik Backman, Raina Telgemeier, Jay McInerney, Gayle Forman, Colson Whitehead, Richard Russo, Marcia Clark, Laurie Halse Anderson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rosemary Wells, Gene Luen Yang, Kate Beaton, Terry McMillan, and Jodi Picoult.

Exhibitor space is down approximately 20 percent from last year. A smaller presence by the major New York publishers enables small press diversity to shine through. ABA promotes the “new localism.”

Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the web!) speaks at the International Digital Publishing Forum about the ways the internet both disrupts and enables publishing and how it might integrate technologies across both print and digital platforms.

The thematic focus in upcoming young adult books includes diversity, thrillers, identify theft, and strange diseases.

A panel put on by the Authors Guild critiques traditional publishing, urges authors to take control of their careers, laments rejections, warns of the hazards of publishing, and reaffirms what hard work writing and publishing is. A flat royalty rate covering all formats is discussed.

Anniversaries of all sorts: Scout Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) is one; Mulholland Press (Hachette) turns five, Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook was published 20 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics publishing program is 25, and Roald Dahl is (or would be) 100.

Nielsen says e-book sales fell 13 percent in 2015.

The coloring book craze goes on and on and on.

The American Library Association, which calls Chicago home, presents what publishers and bookstores should know about ways libraries are transforming in their buying, events, marketing, and more. May 21 marks the second annual National Readathon Day.

And finally, if you were lucky enough to get out and see the sites, Lonely Planet provided a guide to Chicago’s top 10 literary sites, which include Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace and the Newberry Library.


Lessons Learned – Key takeaways from BEA Content and Digital Conference

Session: Data-Driven New Release Marketing

Presenter: Rick Burnes, Vice President of Content Products at BookBub

What We Learned: Burnes presented data showing publishers and authors how to run successful launch campaigns that drive sales and engagement. Key takeaways included: Discount buyers buy full-priced new releases; author brands drive release sales; popular new-release tactics focus on existing fans; and discounts and ads can help you reach new people.

Session: The New Digital Audio Landscape: The Intersection of Books, Podcasts, and Promotion

Presenters: Anne Kostick, Partner, Foxpath IND (moderator); David Markowitz, Strategist, Consultant, and Producer, ListenUp Audio; Carol Fitzgerald, President, TheBookReportNetwork.com; Rich Freese, Vice Chairman of the Board of Recorded Books; and Gwen Macsai, Speaker, Radio Producer, Host.

What We Learned: Digital audio is the fastest-growing segment of what literary-minded people would consider their media landscape. Ease of access and mobile technology has driven this explosion, with the newest adult generation leading its adoption. What does this development mean for print and digital publishers? Key takeaways included: Cross-promoting is happening more through social media; there is more than one way to reach listeners (including by narrator instead of author); digital delivery and audio will coexist for the foreseeable future; and strategic sampling offers a way to help build new audiences.

Session: Publishers Getting the Most Out of Goodreads: Hear Their Success Stories

Presenters: Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing, Goodreads and Laura Clark, Senior Director of Marketing, Communications and Audience Development, St. Martin’s Press

What We Learned: Case studies and best practices focused on how publishers are helping their books break out on Goodreads. Key takeaways included: Give away lots of books prepublication—that’s your word-of-mouth engine; engage with your fans and bring personality to your promotions; and time your ad campaigns carefully.

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