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What Can I Expect?

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Each day our office receives a variety of phone calls, all with the above question asked. Many times this question refers to one of the many marketing programs that we offer monthly.
Because it’s been a while since we visited what one can expect in the marketing programs, I thought I’d discuss some of what we offer related to trade shows, especially since we have just returned from a very active Book Expo.

Exhibiting with PMA
    At the trade shows, what can you expect if you display your titles in the PMA cooperative booth? At a national show display, you can expect any and/or all of the following:

  • A catalog developed specifically for each show containing information on your title, along with necessary ordering information
  • Your title displayed face out in its genre-specific area
  • Representatives working the booth who can offer information to those who stop by to visit
  • Orders written onsite (although these have become few and far between)
  • Foreign rights interest (this is developing more so at the national BEA than has been seen in the past)
  • Exposure of your title to the attendees of the convention for potential sales, subsidiary rights sales, and other types of specialty sales
  • If you attend the show in person, a chance to work within the PMA booth to discuss your title (as well as titles of other PMA members) with attendees of the convention.

The Show Itself

The conventions are a good place to display wares to the potential buyers (booksellers and/or librarians). They typically do not write orders at these shows, but they do gather lots of information and take this home with them to order after the event. We observe many people who visit our booth and watch them as they take notes on the titles that meet their specific interest. Some people like to chat and get suggestions on types of books for their collection. Others like to shop by themselves and write notes to themselves. You have to be able to quickly judge into which area the client falls and then meet their needs.
At the BEA this year, for example, there were those who were looking for special titles, and they arrived with a list of topics they wanted to include in their bookstores. Then there were others who were just browsing and asking which books seemed to have the best sales. They wanted to take only proven winners into their inventory.
Saturday was my day for foreign rights appointments. I spent most of that day discussing the PMA member books with people from England, Germany, Holland, Australia, India, Malaysia, Switzerland, Brazil, and some South American countries. We have more titles at this show than we take to Frankfurt and/or London, and it was rewarding to be able to walk them through our eight booths and let them pick and choose from what we have to offer.
Amazingly this show was active right up until its close at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. In fact I didn’t hear any “tapes fly” until after the show had officially closed. The “tapes fly” refers to a sound that definitely can be heard throughout the hall when the first exhibitor decides to leave early and begins packing and closing boxes with a tape gun. It’s a sound that is totally unique, and the first person who dares to dismantle prior to the official shutdown is the one who okays everyone else doing the same. This normally occurs at shows near the end of the last day when the crowd begins to dwindle and we exhibitors stand around looking at each other and no one else. This was not the case at BEA in LA. Though the amount of actual bookstore owners was not huge, it was sufficient at our booth to keep us busy and other types of buyers visited our booths all three days of the show.
So what can you expect at a trade show? Probably not huge sales. But just one contact can make the whole show. Just ask PMA member Diane Pfeifer of Strawberry Patch (Atlanta, Georgia), who came to speak at the PMA Publishing University just prior to the show and met the producer of Donny & Marie after a presentation at a PMA luncheon. She will be appearing on that show on August 4 (watch for her). Also, just ask Marty Burton of The Whale Comedian, who must have distributed hundreds of signed copies of this title to booksellers and other interested people who snake-lined around the PMA complex waiting to talk with Marty and get a copy of his book. He used his time on the floor of BEA to meet as many people as he could and get his book in the hands of as many potential buyers as were available. Ask Robert Goodman of Silvercat (San Diego, California) who didn’t have a book on display but worked the PMA booth each day talking with as many people as he could.
You can expect exposure. You can expect contacts. You can expect a revitalization of being around so many vibrant and dedicated people. You can expect to learn new ideas on how to promote your current and future titles. You can get leads on potential new sales venues for your titles. You can expect a type of publishing rebirth. It’s difficult to return from these shows without some new energy being instilled within you, your staff, and your entire publishing program.

This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor June, 1999, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.


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