Book Expo America 2014 - Show Surprises Again This Year

New York, NY, USA - Book Expo America, the premier annual gathering of the Publishing industry, was enjoyed again this year at the Jacob Javitts Center in New York.  This year's BEA had many surprises, including the fact that the last day of the Show,  Saturday, was open to the general public.  It was quite the scene with most non-industry attendees gladly jumping onto aisles-long lines awaiting autographed copies of free- or discounted- books.  One delighted group of first-timers was treated to a free copy of Stephen King's latest novel, a surprise to the publishers, even, who had suddenly found themselves with some extra books.


Big “birthdays” this year included Baker Publishing Group's 75th and DK's 40th- for which a Boba Fett character had been built entirely out of Legos as promo for its upcoming fully revised and updated edition of their bestselling LEGO Star Wars: The Visual DictionaryDK is perhaps best known for its 1988 break-out Eyewitness series of photographic nonfiction books. Teams at both Charlesbridge and Holiday House were celebrating their 25th anniversary.  Charlesbridge had author/illustrator team Peter H. and Paul Reynolds on hand to sign their book Sydney & Simon: Full Steam AheadHarper Collins and Candlewick Press both had titles to celebrate, the former Shel Silverstein'sThe Giving Tree (50th anniversary) and the latter Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram'sGuess How Much I Love You (20 years old now and with 28 million copies sold).


Some faves appearing at the traditional author meal events included such greats as Anjelica Huston, Tavis Smiley, Lisa Scottoline, Neil Patrick Henry, Alan Cumming, Martin Short, Lena Dunham, Colm Toibin, Jason Seget, Carl Hiaasen, Mem Fox, Jeff Kinney, Pat O'Brien, Dick Cavett, Ruth Reichl, and Jodi Picoult.  In-booth and table signings by mainstream authors featured Dorothea Frank, Gail Sheehy, Shannon Hale, Ken Page, Jennifer Donnelly, Brian Tarquin, Gordon Javna, Bruce Lansky, Kathleen Duble, Cecilia Tan, Stephanie Evanovich, Andrew Gross, Jennifer Probst, John Scalzi, John Scieszka, Karen Kingsbury, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and many more.


Major “animal alert” joy was provided by New World Library who were promoting Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of the American Humane Association and Allen & Linda Anderson.


Celebrities with children's titles include Jane Lynch(Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean), and of course Bethenny Frankel (Cookie Meets Peanut).


Major book “buzz” included Simon & Schuster's release of ARC of Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves and Laura McBride's We Are Called to Rise, both amazing reads. 

Thomas' novel is being touted as the a true “Great American Novel” and the product of a “Cinderella Story” since it was published after the author had put himself through undergraduate and graduate school- as well as writing and putting into a drawer two other manuscripts.  The book tells the story of Eileen Tumulty, the daughter of two alcoholic Irish immigrants who strikes out to make a life not only for herself but also those around her.  Hers is the story of “everywoman,” and this debut novel promises to be unforgettable.

McBride's work derives its title from the poetry of Emily Dickinson:


“We never know how high we are

Till we are called to rise;

And then, if we are true to plan,

Our statures touch the skies.”


We Are Called to Rise is a story about a child's fate and about families.  That, in itself, gets my attention.  But it is the author's own words about her story that compels:  “I wanted to tell a story that might make a reader have a big feeling,” McBride writes, “the sense that no matter how cruel or unfair life could be in a given moment, no matter how terrible the consequences of a tiny mistake, it was ultimately beautiful to live...  I just wanted the reader to love a child enough to feel devastated when that child's heart was broken and euphoric when that child got a chance at hope...”

Other news in fiction includes the debut of (normally comedic) writer Jennifer Weiner's All Fall Down, a read that is described by Library Journal as “haunting” and sure to leave readers “haunted.”

Nonfiction readers- and fans of Jon Krakauer's amazing Into the Wild- will be thrilled to know that Carine McCandless has penned her version of that story, debuted at BEA:  The Wild Truth (Harper One).


YA titles were yet again big news at Book Expo.  Harlequin Teen was promoting their Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid. American Girl had author Laurence Yep on hand signing his IsabelleAlgonquin had Kelly Barnhill (The Witch's Boy) and William Ritte (Jackaby) on hand to sign their new titles.  Albert Whitman & Company featured Deborah Blumenthal signing her A Different Me on opening day. Little, Brown and Company had their “Pseudonymous Bosch” on hand to sign Bad Magic.  LBC, by the way, publishes Lemony Snicket's work.  Word was that Daniel Handler “snuck into” the booth during this signing to hand out book marks for his upcoming All the Wrong Questions: Shouldn't You Be in School? Handler, of course, is the original “psydueonomous” Snicket.  Very fitting!


Always sharing a title that makes us hoot, Chronicle Books debuted its The Grumpy Cat's Guide to Life: Observations by Grumpy Cat.  The author was signing on the last day of the Show, however promotional materials with the beloved grumpy-faced cat laughingly advised “I'll be at the Chronicle Books booth- Don't Come!”


Other titles that got my attention:  New World Library's The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication (Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada), Rowman & Littlefield's The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First Century Fare (Douglas E. Neel and Joel E. Pugh),Harvest House's The Power of God's Names (Tony Evans), Abingdon Press' Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful: Embrace Your Quirks and Live Your Strengths (Laurie Wallin), Amacom's Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis, Workman's Eat Bacon, Don't Jog (Grant Petersen) and Will It Waffle?:  53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle Iron (Dan Shumski), Countryman Press' (W. W. Norton & Company) Dogs in Cars (Lara Jo Regan)


Some independently-published titles that got this reporter's attention:  Susan Branch's sweet and very pretty production A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, Joe M. Carroll's Because Your Heart Matters: Inspirational Insights and Stories for Experiencing God From Your Heart, and Deborah Phillips' Hope to Go: A Devotional Journal for Times of Bereavement and Grief.


Branch's book is just darling in that it not only recounts the story of her having met her husband (and his version of that story, too!), but also all of the details of their 25th anniversary trip to the parts of England that are oh so romantic- the Peak District, the Lake District, the Cotswolds and more.  An amazing illustrator, Branch has made sure that this, her thirteenth book, is chock-full of cute watercolor drawings and quaint photographs of what she saw on her trip.  This book is very special and  availability is very limited.  All this “romance” must have set a theme going:  on a whim I picked up a copy of Harlequin's The Husband List by Cindy Kirk. I tossed it into my carry-on for the trip back from New York to Los Angeles.  Gotta say, it kept me quite occupied...


Something else that got this reporter's attention:  PW's “Show Daily” informs that Amazon had a 67% market share of all eBooks in the month of March, as well as a 64% market share of sales of print books.  That's a lotta books.  Those of us who love independent book stores had better get out there and not only go and visit our favorite shops more frequently but also buy something whilst there...  Hopefully, you've gotten some great ideas here.

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