This report almost didn't happen.
Our company has arrangements with some of the major media outlets to cover conventions that they don't want to send their own employees to attend. In the old days we would be called "stringers." Now we are called "media affiliates." Others who do this call themselves "road-warrior writers" as they do a lot of travel. The pay is not great but the work is not hard, is often fun, and your colleagues are terrific... I see many of the same people show after show.
We've had dealings with mostly European and Asian media to buy content from us. We also get some specific assignments to cover certain exhibitors or sessions... for example the Digital Book 2013 ... see below.
In the past fifteen years that I've been doing the BEA Diary, the officials at Reed (who run BEA) were gracious to the media and gave passes to anyone who had even negligible credentials.
That changed this year.
According to the BEA media gatekeepers, there were simply too many people requesting media passes whom BEA claimed were not "real" media. One official said it was "epidemic."
Yet in all the years I've been covering the BEA, it has never been that big of a media attraction. True, some of the celeb-speakers draw the press, but the average small and mid-size publisher who pays around $10,000 to buy booth space and lodging and meals and transportation for BEA never sees anyone from any media on the floor. I know because I'm there... and I always ask.
Let me make one thing very, very clear. Reed is an excellent friend to the publishing industry, they put on well-attended and valuable book conventions, and the company that they contract with for public/media relations, Roger Bilheimer Associates does a great job year after year for the show. From what I can gather this media credential change did not originate with Roger and his team... he and his associates were just the bearers of the bad news.
Soon after our company applied for the annual press credentials for me and my long-time co-author of this electronic fish-wrap, we were denied.
We were never told why, we just got an email saying we were not considered "media-worthy" enough to cover the BEA this year. (Reminded me of the Seinfeld "sponge-worthy" episode!)
I checked with several colleagues who cover the small and mid-size press and they got the same email. It looked to us that BEA wanted to "reserve" the show just for the large media who would cover the "big hitters" -- those who bought the most space. Of course, we could not prove it, but that was the gist of the emails that circulated among those of us who had spent years at BEA giving some much-needed "ink" to the smaller exhibitors.
After an appeal to BEA's new media committee (nicknamed the "BEA media mafia!") and a denial from same, our company decided that we would just go "public" to the media community with the issue.
First we solicited comments from reporters via HARO and other sources. Then we wrote up a press release on the issue.
But before we published it, in fairness and for accuracy, we wanted to get statements from BEA (Reed) about their new restrictive credentialing policy and the media committee that they had created to 'enforce' it.
Thus, we sent the draft of the release to everyone we knew at Reed and while we hoped for the best, we were resigned to the idea that BEA just didn't want us covering the small press as we have for 15 years (see end of this piece for links to past BEA Diary fish-wraps.)
I don't know who saw the press piece or what might have been discussed in the upper levels of Reed/BEA management but a few days later our company received an email saying that we would be issued our usual two press credentials. We never published the release.
I don't know how many other writers, journalists, reporters, and bloggers "protested" as we did but my guess is that there weren't too many since I didn't see many (most) of my old friends on the floor of the BEA this year. My second guess is that their managements (i.e. managing editors) said "Well, the hell with BEA -- if they don't want us there, we won't cover it."
I don't know what the truth is. From my standpoint BEA shot themselves in the foot publicity-wise, and got a lot road-warrior writers angry... but that's just my take on it. You make your own decision.
My co-author and I picked up our BEA media credentials at the press office on Wednesday. The regular exhibits were not open as people were still putting them up, but BEA was hosting a Digital Book 2013 that day and I wanted (needed) to cover a couple of the sessions.
However, again the "media mafia" struck, and the two young women at the desk said that our credentials were not valid to attend/cover any of the presentations.
I asked to speak to a supervisor but the young woman who seemed to be in charge (although she looked all of 17 years old!) said it would not be possible. So we just walked away.
I was somewhat upset because our company (which covers many conventions) had a "stringer" assignment (from a major-major media) to cover one of the speakers (a 'gran fromage' in the digital biz) and when we were denied entrance I knew we would not see the income from that assignment.
As they say on Wall Street "Don't fight the tape." (Like there is anyone old enough to remember ticker-tape!) It was not worth getting upset over; there was nothing I could do except report back to my contacts and let them deal with it. This much is for sure, Digital Book 2013 missed out on a huge pool of ink by not letting me sit through their presentations.
|Maybe next year? I doubt it!|
I shared a table with a lovely young woman, Babs Chandrasoma from PR by the Book. They specialize in publicity campaigns for book authors and publishers. She had recently moved from the frozen tundra of Minnesota to the sunny Austin, TX area. We talked a lot about our mutual interests, one of them being web design. Last year my company started (a very successful) web design service called NewMedia Website Design which targets authors and publishers :
|Babs Chandrasoma of PR By The Book|
I've been to a ton of conventions including twenty (ABA) BEAs but it never ceases to amaze me just how much work it is to set up a booth, to say nothing about the cost.
|Yeah, my butt would hurt too after all this work!|
The only sections of the exhibit floor that were open on Wednesday were remainders which I had zero interest in, and the so-called "sidelines"... non-book items that are sold in bookstores, which I love to cover as I always find good stories that will sell.
I like puzzles and the items that 4D Cityscape has are terrific. You locate and place each building on the map according to the year it was built. As you work your way through the puzzle you are placing each building in chronological order as if history is happening before you eyes! The year of the last building placed on the map represents the year you are in the puzzle. Very cool. I wish I had one of New York... as I grew up there!
|Ya gotta get one of these... not just for kids!|
|Maybe your fish want to read Finding Nemo?|
|Does this make her a "bookie?" :-)|
|This will probably sell millions!|
|All the glitters... is cool|
|Sounds dumb, but really, it's fun!|
|This is sooooooooo good!|
As always there are tons of children's items, mostly educational, yet I rarely see anything that gets me too excited... mainly because I like dogs better than children. But I found a "toy" that everyone will want... a Pocket Disc. We were throwing this in the asile and having a great time. You can play indoor Indoor Golf with these. You will love this. (And so will your dog!)
|More fun than anything I've seen at BEA in many years.|
|Easily the best sideline at BEA this year!|
|Shel and Florrie. Old friends, good friends, valued friends.|
|Taken during the dinner portion of the award ceremony. Big crowd, great books!|
|Jerry Jenkins: Always a smile and a kind word to everyone.|
|The IPPYs always have the best looking 'presenters" (and Jim Barnes at podium thinks he's of them. Not!)|
I arrived a bit late the first morning, the result of just a little over-indulgence of some adult beverages at the award parties. When I walked into Javits around 10:30 AM the place was hoppin'. I would not say it was the best attended first-day I've ever seen, but given that a lot of people have been predicting the 'death' of the big trade show, there was no doubt that this one was alive and well.
One man who always has a good "story" is the venerable Irwin Zucker who heads Promotion in Motion and who founded the BPSC. The goal of the programs of the Book Publicists of Southern California is to improve the quality of book public relations by providing informative speakers on a regular basis, and providing opportunities for interaction among authors, publicists, publishers and media. Irwin is about 128 years old now... but has more energy than those who are one quarter his age! This year's story? Irwin said "Print books will die when I die... and I'm never going to die!" I believe it!
|Irwin Zucker of BPSC with 'hot' friend. Anyone know who she is?|
|Lester Barclay (author) and Dibri Beavers (of Khari Publishing)|
|Great food at Zabar's... expensive... but GREAT!|
|Author Dan Williams. Nice book with great art (by Randy Williams)|
|Dennis Scott of YTP|
|Brian Field of Storyfinds.com|
|Dr. David Klein... he can sell this... he sold me!|
|J.D. Netto... so young and talented. Great future ahead|
|Julie Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield, authors|
|Gary Hayward: The costume alone made me want the book!|
|Indy and James Lucas - they could make millions on this|
|Hey, there was a dog. I had to mention it. So sue me!|
|A bird in the hand...|
I don't spend a lot of time with the large publishers. They get plenty of ink (although since BEA withheld press credentials from so many writers, maybe not this year!) I saw a large booth for the New York Times... but it was empty. It was pretty... but no one was in there so I have no idea what they were hawking. Maybe they too were refused a press credential :-)
|I read the news today, oh boy!|
|Julia Steele and Angie Bowman of BookPage|
|Abigail Carter, founder of Writer.ly|
|Kathy Gilbert of PBS|
|Brian Jud, the "AAPSS MAN." (Anyone remember Kramer's (from Seinfeld) license plate?)|
|When the steps are empty you know there is no crowd.|
|Tom Campbell (left) of King Printing and Eric Kampmann of Midpoint... two old friends|
|Cerys Goodall showing off the Kobo reader. Damn nice product. I want one!|
|This would make a great gift for someone in recovery.|
There are lots of organizations in the literary biz... we're a bunch of joiners. A new group had a booth at BEA. It is called BookWorks: The Self-Publishers Association, a worldwide community dedicated exclusively to helping self-publishing authors prepare, publish and promote their books. They have partnered with Publishers Weekly, PubMatch and Combined Book Exhibit to give their members exposure to markets and resources that they claim no other organization currently provides. They seem to be targeting authors wanting to self-publish, not people who already are in the publishing game, like IBPA or AAPSS targets. I wish them well. It's a major step from being an author to being a publisher and I hope they can be of help to those who give it a shot.
|Betty Sargent, Founder and CEO of BookWorks|
|Dr. Ruth... only five feet tall, but sometimes larger than life!|
|Need a bargain-basement logo?|
|No idea who she really is but she was a hit in the aisles|
|Everyone loves Tordis... a great example of the small press in America|
I left Javits and headed downtown to attend the annual Midpoint Trade pizza party where (of course) I got to see an authentic "book babe" Julie Hardison who is Director of Operations for the distributor. She works out of the Kansas City office and I don't think the company could function without her!
|Julie and the author of this diatribe|
This was a good show, well-attended by contemporary standards, and except for the absence of many media people who either didn't come or were denied credentials, the show was a success.
The show is scheduled to be in New York City next year and the year after (2015), moving to Chicago in 2016.
Again, let me AGAIN make one thing very, very clear. Reed is an excellent friend to the publishing industry, they put on well-attended and valuable book conventions, and the company that they contract with for public/media relations, Roger Bilheimer Associates does a great job year after year for the show. From what I can gather this media credential change did not originate with Roger and his team... he and his associates were just the bearers of the bad news.
It is my hope that BEA management will disband their media "committee" and be a lot more proactive in attracting as much media as they can. After all, this is really a "media show" and not a "book buying" show like it was when I first started coming.
In the "old days" every mom/pop bookstore would send a few people to BEA and they would have appointments with publisher sales reps; sit down at the little round tables and would buy most of their yearly inventory at the show. Where are the retail bookstore owners now? We all know the answer to that: Gone.
I don't know if opening the show to the public was a success or not. My bet is that from a financial standpoint BEA did not make much money on the concept, as I don't think many people ponied up the $49 for a ticket to see a show that takes at least two days, in only six hours.
BEA has released the following press piece on attendance.
There are a lot of people, particularly in the press looking for the results from just concluded BEA. Please note these are RAW NUMBERS, meaning they are subject to change based on the verification process which takes 3-4 weeks.
BEA is audited by a 3rd party to verify our results because all strategic planning is based on these final figures. The results from the 3rd party audit in 2012 showed that BEA was up by more than 11% vs. the 5% we had first reported.
NOTE we have removed the BlogWorld cross over attendee stats which had been included the last 2 years so we can give an apples to apples number on BEAs figures.
Total Industry Professionals 2013 = 19,615 = -.004%
Total Industry Professionals 2012 = 19,694
Total Attendance 2013 = 11,101 - +7%
Total Attendance 2012 = 10,417
All in all, the reviews have been fantastic. The Author Stages and other author events were a giant success. In particular, the Neil Gaiman, Jim Gaffigan & the Wally Lamb/Elizabeth Gilbert appearances were terrific highlights. The improved logistics for lines in Autographing and bringing the ABA Lounge to the BEA show floor all proved to make BEA easier and more productive. Even the WiFi and air conditioning performed fantastically!!
As I said, this was a good show, but Reed always puts on a good show (we've covered many of them.) BEA deserves to be attended by the industry and the media. I don't think there is much more that Reed can do to improve an already good show for its exhibitors... but they surely have some work to do in repairing a lot of hurt-feelings with many of the media people who have covered the show for years and who were denied entry this year.
There were so many other books, publishers, and items that I wanted to include, but I only have so much space... and the deadline is close for me to file this. Here are some of the items I just don't have the time or space for, but other media who read (I'm told that this rant is seen by 35,000 publishers) this might find some good stories from these exhibitors (in no particular order:)
Bowker's Self Published Author Program
You Don't Have To Hurt Anymore
AUM, The Melody of Love
My Name is Leona
Fun Stitch Studio
Mighty Bright Lux Lighting
Pub Tech / Trilogy Systems
Don't Buy That Health Insurance
The Work Book
The Videographers Guide
Bestseller in A Weekend
For past editions of the BEA Diary:
You may share the link to this piece or reprint any part of it without prior permission so long as you use the following attribution:
Alan N. Canton, Managing Partner
New Media Website Design
"Websites for authors, publishers, and small businesses at an affordable price"
Fair Oaks, CA 916-962-9296
If you wish to comment, or criticize, or if you have a correction/addition please send it to Al Canton:
bea-diary at adams-blake dot com