Book Expo America 2010 Continues to Surprise and Delight


Many changes to the Book Expo America event this year!  For starters, the Show now begins mid-week (with opening events on a Tuesday evening) vs. starting on Thursday and going into the weekend.  Held again at the sprawling Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, the Show was also condensed this year to one single floor for exhibitors and featured only two days of access to them.  This brought about a need for some creative floor layout since near to the same number of exhibitors participated as in the past, despite there being less available square footage.

In addition to these changes, the Exhibit Hall portion of the event was only open two days (vs. three).  There were mixed reviews from exhibitors about this.  (Reed Exibitions, the company in charge of the Show, has subsequently announced that it will provide three days of access to the Exhibit Hall next year when the Show will run from May 23 to May 26, 2011)

Jacob Javits Center welcomes book sellers, librarians, writers, agents, publicists and others to Book Expo America 2010

“I think it’s a lot of set up work for a short period of time,” Earlita Chenault, Publicity Manager for New Harbinger Publications, Inc., told me when I visited with her to talk about this year's Show formatand to see their new titles.  Chenault was delighted, however, with the traffic to their booth and is excited to see what other effects the change might have.  New Harbinger, a thirty-year-old and well-established West Coast publisher, has participated in Book Expo for many years, bringing their scientifically sound self-help books to the book selling community's attention there- and not to mention trucking their wares cross-country.  This season’s picks include their intriguing “Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On:  Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety, and Fear,” a short and sweet read on the subject well worth a look.

Monique Muhlenkamp, Publicity Director for New World Library publishing, was taking a "wait and see" position on the new Show format.  Muhlenkamp is also an organizer of the Northern California Book Promotion and Marketing Association's annual BEA Tea, an offsite cocktail hour gathering of book publicists and media movers and shakers.  Due to Show format changes, the NCBPMA elected not to have the tea this year.  "We were concerned about attendees' schedules and logistics," Muhlenkamp told me.  "And then issues of finding the right venue became involved."  The group had explored holding the event at the Javits Center.  However, much of the charm of the tea is in the enjoyment of what I call "enchanted" locations.  Last year's tea was held in an amazing historic NYC library.  I promised I'd help scout locations for her while I'm on the East Coast for a bit.  Any and all suggestions welcomed.

Bobbi Brown signed blads for her upcoming book at the Chronicle Books booth

“We’ve had great traffic,” Nion McEvoy, CEO of Chronicle Books in San Francisco, told me when I asked about his take on the Show changes.  “We've been very busy, and it actually feels like we have a publishing industry,” he joked.  No joke, his booth was definitely buzzing when I stopped in during an appearance by cosmetics maven Bobbi Brown.  Brown was there to promote her forthcoming makeover book, “Beauty Rules:  Fabulous Looks, Beauty Essentials, and Life Lessons for Loving Your Teens and Twenties.”   Her assistant, makeup artist Ricki Gurtman, was on hand doing makeup freshenings- and making some very lovely ladies look even lovelier.  (By the way, Chronicle was voted one of the 50 best companies to work for in the United States.  It shows…go, Nion!)

Beautiful Ricki Gurtman, makeup artist and long-time Bobbi Brown assistant, does a

Neptune, New Jersey publisher, TFH Publications, Inc., a specialty companion animal publisher with a partnership with those clever folks who invented the NylaBone (thank you, thank you) was enjoying great exposure this year.  Editor-Reptiles, Birds & Aquatics, Tom Mazorlig told me they were very busy, irrespective of any Show changes.  Among other things- including some very nifty new dog toys that are also tooth/gum hygiene enhancers- TFH was promoting their exciting new release targeted to those of us in the Boomer set:  The 50+ Dog Owner by Mary Jane Checchi.  (TFH is known, by the way, as being the leader in responsible animal care for over 50 years.)

Tom Mazorlig, Reptiles, Birds, and Aquatics Editor at TFH Publications, welcomes visitors to their BEA booth

“We’ll probably make some changes in the Author Signing Area next year,” Roger Bilheim, director of publicity for Book Expo America told me when we talked in the press room.  “It got a little tight down there (during signings).”  Indeed, tucked in this year with the new Digital section of the Show- versus having its own location on another floor of the facility as in prior years- this heavily trafficked spot could be tricky to navigate- particularly when “big” authors were signing. 

The International Rights and Business Center exhibitors saw some brisk traffic this year- a good thing considering the loss of action at the London Book Fair due to the unprecedented volcanoe eruption.  "I usually take about 50 meetings in London," Jennifer Weltz, agent with the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, told me," and I lost all that."  BEA was quite a different story; Weltz told me she spent about half her day stationed at the booth (the other half attending to clients' news-worthy projects) all three days of the Javits Show and was very busy.  The JVN agency group had a very big week what with the BEA announcement of the March 29, 2011 release of author Jean Auel's "The Land of Painted Caves," sequel to "Clan of the Cave Bears," the Day 1 BEA launch of C.W. Gortner's "Confessions of Catherine DeMedici," etc.!

"I think we're really making up for London," Marina Cook, Sales Manager for Berrett-Koehler told me.  She described her time at the Show as "incredibly busy."  An independent publisher with the mission of creating a world that "works for all," Berrett-Koehler's books promote progressive leadership and management practices, socially responsible approaches to business, and humane and effective organizations.

More news is that Book Expo America will be venued in New York City in perpetuity, rather than rotated to the familiar sites across the country (Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago).  That’s no “new” news, however the fact that a week developed around the traditional industry gathering has been set up, isNew York “Book Week” has been developed around the traditional BEA gathering, and events at multiple nearby venues took place, including an evening with Jonathan Franzen and David Means at the Brooklyn Public Library and a free fiction writing class with David Goodwillie ("American Subversive") at Barnes & Noble Greenwich Village, and will continue throughout the weekend.

Even with all the changes to this year’s event, Book Expo America continues to please.  Traffic was heavy, and one still had to fight one’s way through some of the major passages between booths- always a good sign- and attendees were loaded with books, smiling even when waiting in line to receive autographs. 

James Patterson signs copies of

There was no scarcity of “famous people” at the Show this year, either.  Mega-author James Patterson , with a new novel coming out, was on hand to sign T"he Gift" (Little, Brown & Co.), his follow-up in his dystopian fantasy series, "Witch and Wizard."  Michael Connelly was there, too, signing his latest hard-hitting legal thriller "The Reversal" (Little, Brown & Co.)

Bernadette Peters signed copies of the children's book she wrote with Liz Murphy, "Stella is a Star" (Blue Apple Books).  The book is adorable and includes a CD with an original song written by Peters.   The Emmy-winning sportscaster Len Berman was at the Sourcebooks booth signing copies of his latest book "The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time."  Sourcebooks is the largest woman-owned book publisher in the world, by the way.  (Go, Len!)  Matthew Stevenson, contributing editor to Harper's Magazine, was at the Show promoting his new book of essays for world and armchair travelers Remembering the Twentieth Century Limited (Odysseus Books).   Kathy Kamen Goldmark, producer of West Coast Live, was at the Show, too, and we visited and chatted for a bit.  She's promoting the book she co-wrote with hubby Sam Barry, just out this month "Write That Book Already!  The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now." (Adams Media)  It looks fantastic and includes insight from her author/musician buddies from the Rock Bottom Remainders... Thanks for the inspiration, guys!

Sportscaster Len Berman with a new fan

Doug Robinson, General Manager of Eagle Eye Book Shop, didn’t mind waiting in a (very long, three aisles) long line to receive an autographed copy of Nelson Demille’s latest "The Lion" (Grand Central Station)- a gift he’d be bringing back to Georgia for the events manager of his store.  Robinson claims his store is “a mile of books," and I believe he isn't just bragging since he's involved with the Decatur Book Festival, an end-of-summer event which boasts some 50-60,000 visitors each year.

Author Nelon DeMille signs a copy of his latest book

Speaking of book events, the QBR/Harlem Book Fair takes place on Saturday, July 17th this year.  Ibrahim Ahmad, Editor at Akashic Books, gave me the heads up that my friend, Bernice L. McFaddin will be in conversation there with author Terry McMillan ("Waiting to Exhale")  McFaddin's book "Glorious" is the debut selection for "One Book, One Harlem," a presentation of The Harlem Book Fair & Hue-Man Bookstore.  The program theme will be "The Future of African American Literature."  An audience discussion with the authors will follow.  Now that’s an event not to be missed, and "Glorious" is a must-read.  Described by Publishers Weekly as "powerful" and "triumphant," Glorious was just hailed by The Oprah Magazine as being "riveting" and "brilliant."  The Harlem Book Fair will take place at W. 135th St. below Lenow and Frederick Douglass Blvd. (

And speaking of things not to be missed next year at BEA:  this year’s BEA Editors’ Buzz featured some very cool picks including Twelve’s “The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore” (Benjamin Hale),  a story about the humanizing of a chimpanzee (and it includes *spoiler alert* a sex scene between a woman and a chimp, of all things), and Little, Brown & Co’sRoom” (Emma Donahue) which is being touted as the next “The Lovely Bones.”  (I was lucky enough to get a copy of the gallely and will let you know what I think shortly...)

As for new things related to galleys, for the second year, Harper Collins Publishers is using Symtio cards.  What an amazing thing for those of us who review books and are normally seen lugging bags and bags of "tree" books around during the Show.  At the invitation of Gretchen Swartley, Advertising & Promotion Manager for Harper,  I was able to select and simply pop five review copy "books" into my suit jacket pocket, including Sena Jeter Naslund's ("Ahab's Wife") new title "Adam & Eve" and "My Spiritual Journey" by The Dalai LamaZondervan's site has great information about these cards, including a nifty YouTube film clip that shows justs how easy it is for brick-and-mortar shops to vend these puppies.  Take a look here:

Lucy Baker, author of "The Boozy Baker"

And I will add one thing, looking to trends, and significant for those who know me and my eye for watching how, despite our protestations to the contrary, we Americans just love our quirky "stuff":  “cupcakes” have- finally- not only made their way to the East Coast but have become a fixture.  Since covering a Cedars Sinai fund raising event in Beverly Hills several years ago and seeing mini versions of them being passed on trays along with flutes of champagne, to seeing the cupcake shop open up on St. Vicente in Brentwood, I knew they’d be the next “big” thing.  The saturation, in my opinion, is now official~!  Many publishers of food-related books have titles either about cupcakes or including cupcakes in some way.  Running Press was debuting Lucy Baker’s Boozy Baker" (can’t make that up, can I?), a dessert cookbook that uses alcoholic beverages as the "surprise ingredient" in each recipe, and they featured at their booth mini red velvet cupcakes containing Southern Comfort (very delicious, by the way).   Small Press Happy Baker Publishing has "The Happy Baker:  A Dater's Guide to Emotional Baking" which features a chocolate cupcake on the cover (yes, it includes recipes as well as dating anecdotes).  Chronicle Books even has cupcake stationary.  Need I say more?

Again, more surprise and delight at Book Expo America 2010.

Text and photos ©May 2010 M. D. Caprario

M. D. Caprario is an author, editor and journalist working in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco covering for the media all good things in the book, film and entertainment industries.  Reach her at [email protected]



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