by Tony Buchsbaum
I think of it as book publishing’s running of the bulls. Thousands of people — booksellers, assorted book professionals, and press — gather in quasi-defined lines, crowds really (okay, hordes), hearts aflutter, as the minutes count down to the opening of Book Expo, North America’s biggest book-publishing trade show. There’s a great anticipation as people crane to see beyond the barricades to the publishers’ booths, where all manner of books are stacked up and waiting for hungry hands. Intrepid guards stand at the ropes. The last seconds tick off. Then it’s go time. And the throng surges forward, flashing their badges as they whisk past the guards (not armed), quick-stepping to their favorite booth to see what books are ready for grabbing.
Welcome to Book Expo.
For me, it’s like crack, an annual adventure into crazy. I schmooze. I walk the aisles. I make nice. But mostly I’m there for the books. Piles of ’em, advance copies of books yet-to-be-published, but all scheduled for the coming season or so. There are books of every kind, from young adult to children’s, fiction and non, romance and mystery, business books and computer books and cookbooks and comics. You name it, it’s here.
Oh, and there are authors, too, by the hundreds, all doing autographing events. Today, for example, I spotted Nicholas Sparks, and Jonathan Safran Foer was here but I didn’t see him. Tomorrow, Justin Cronin will be signing copies of the third and final book in his The Passage series. Also on-hand will be Sebastian Junger, Elin Hilderbrand, Michael Connelly, Jay McInerny, Richard Russo, Colson Whitehead, and Jamie Lee Curtis, to name just a few.
Today the festivities began at 1 pm, a short (though exhausting) day. Tomorrow BEA will be in full swing, with another full day on Friday. By then, everyone who was in the crowd this afternoon will have sore shoulders, having lugged bags and bags of books around. It’s truly the moist delicious pain there is.
If I can type, I’ll file another report. ◊