USA- New York – Along with gold standard author appearances and signing and other book-related events, Book Expo America 2011 had another exhibitor celebrate a landmark this year.
Wiley’s “For Dummies” series celebrated its 20th anniversary with a logo-perfect cake and gigantic “For Dummies” cupcakes.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” an upper level manager who wanted to remain anonymous told me when I asked how it felt to “turn 20.” “We have an amazing team,” he added.
Wiley’s party had something for everyone, including give-aways of the “Dummies” guy dolls and even an appearance by the “Dummies” guy himself. The large group Show attendees that gathered for the celebration sang “Happy Birthday” while execs blew out the candles on a giant cake. Fun for all… Congrats, Wiley! And thanks for helping so many people over the years learn new skills, gain confidence and go from "dummies" to "experts."
As for signings: Tom Perrotta was at the St. Martin’s booth signing galleys of his new title The Leftovers. (He’s known for Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher, both of which were adapted by him for the screen and made into major motion pictures.) This latest book touches upon timely- and fascinating- territory: the end of the world, and tells the story of characters who are left behind after the Rapture.
Ursula Hegi graced the Scribner booth, signing her newest book Children and Fire, the fourth in the series after her Stones from the River and The Vision of Emma Blau. This latest story is truly noteworthy because its main character is a teacher during the early days of the Third Reich.
Daniel Handler (aka “Lemony Snicket”) signed copies of his latest book with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Why We Broke Up. Initially an anonymous, but now very well-known, author, Handler picked my pocket as a joke at the San Francisco Book Festival some ten (twelve?) years ago when we were both unknown writers…who knew? I recognize the publisher’s marketing team’s genius promotion as “pure Handler” as it included in its Expo promotional arsenal an invitation to readers to share their own break-up storieson note cards. These stories were posted on a board with spiffy magnets depicting quirky items from Handler’s book. (Mine has a blue rhinoceros on it…)
Jimmy Fallon and Michael Moore dropped in to do publisher booth signings. Mega-authors David Baldacci, (One Summer) and James Patterson (The Christmas Wedding) were on hand for signings, too. Surprise news in this literatti glitterati category from HarperCollins: Michael Crichton’s MICRO, a high-concept thriller in the vein of Jurassic Park that the late author co-wrote with Richard Preston, will be released in November.
Actress Julianne Moore appeared to sign her children’s book Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever, and also participated in a panel at the Children’s Author Breakfast opening day. Television icon Florence Henderson was at the Show, too, posing graciously for photos with fans of "The Brady Bunch" and talking about her memoir written with Joel Brokaw, Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond.(Center Street Books/Hachette Book Group)
Speaking of beautiful people and things, a new exhibitor, Moleiro Books Corp., had some incredible replica illuminated manuscripts on display at Expo this year. The company makes hand reproductions- including Books of Hours. The work is just amazing. Wanting all things to be “in perfection,” the company founder releases only 987 copies of any title (a perfect number in Aramaic, I was told by the sales rep.) The work is just gorgeous. Although some of the plates in a few of the books are a bit odd, they're well worth a look for the aesthetic thrill. (http://www.moleiro.com)
Chronicle Books LLC also continues to offer beautiful titles, and one of their Show features is a case in point: a "re-imagining" of the classic Brother Sun, Sister Moon hymn of praise originally written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224. Outstandingly illustrated with hand paper cutting, the book is exactly what we’ve come to know from this exemplary Bay Area pub.
Pomegranate boasted a dizzying array of gorgeous 4-color books, calendars and stationary. A Show standout is their delightful and well-designed celebration of the twentieth anniversary and revised version of their Monet's Passion: Ideas, Inspiration, and Insights from the Painter's Gardens by Elizabeth Murray. (http://pomegranate.stores.yahoo.net/elmurgal.html) The publication is not only a beautiful picture book, but also a great how-to guide which includes a section called "Bringing Giverny Home" that even includes a list of plants so that one might make one's own, personal garden modeled after this very famous one.
Speaking of how-to designing with nature, Tom Mazorlig, Reptiles, Birds, and Aquatics Editor at TFH Publications, was on hand at the Show again this year debuting the company’s newest production- a coffee table book, a radical departure from their industry-leading how-to companion animals books they produce in tandem with Animal Planet. Based on the fish tank creations of Takashi Amano, Nature Aquariums: Complete Works 1985-2009, takes the reader through a two-decade journey of the aquarist’s work, featuring over 200 photographs and even detailed instructions on how to replicate the designs.
“The book certainly fires the imagination,” Mazorlig told me. “The authors’s got this whole aesthetic about it. Everything should be beautiful, everything should be in balance. It’s like taking a Zen philosophy to the design of a fish tank. Things emerge from the tank. The plants are as important as- or even more important than- the fish. It’s almost a gardening concept. That’s his personal philosophy.” The book is not only a beautiful production, but i's also a practical one: it's coil bound. Definitely a great BEA Show find. http://www.tfhmagazine.com/blogs/2010/12/30/entertakashi-amanos-nature-aquarium-book-giveaway-on-twitter/
BowTie Press, another animal care publisher that offers outdoor living publications, has a new category- “Urban Farming”- which features Thomas J. Fox's Sustainable City Living in Your Backyard, in Your Community, and in the World. This is in addition to their interesting new "green” category of "Honeybee Hobbyist," featuring The Care and Keeping of Bees by Norman Gary, PhD. BowTie also offers guidebooks on the care of alpaca. I think I see another trend evolving here…http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/Catalog/BTPFa112011Catalog.pdf
More on the care/keeping of animals, another nice "surprise" find from the Show floor is Laura Hobgood-Oster's The Friends We Keep from Baylor University Press. (http://www.baylorpress.com/Book/219/The_Friends_We_Keep.html) The book touches upon the topics of animals and Christianity, and how they have intersected throughout 2,000 years of history. “Animals and food have a great tradition in the history of Christianity as asceticism and very thoughtful eating,” Hobgood-Oster told me at the Show. “How can we, whatever kind of Christian, ignore the way they have been treated? If there is a call to be radically hospitable then we certainly need to re-think the way we are thinking about other animals as well, so they have somewhere to live.” How can we, indeed?
Text & photos copyright2011 M. D. Caprario
M.D. Caprario is a former bookseller event manager, an entertainment journalist, and a writer and editor of books about people who have overcome obstacles and made exemplary contributions to society, also about people whose lives have been changed through their faith. She is an editorial and promotional consultant to authors all over the world, perfecting everything from concept to manuscript to galley to tour, and reports free lance from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, generally covering for the media books, film, and music. Reach her at APen2Paper@aol.com.