Tomorrow, Beacon Press will publish Prison Baby, Deborah Jiang Stein's tumultuous memoir of adoption, drug addiction, self-discovery, and redemption. Its release will continue a tradition of thought-provoking independent publishing that stretches back more than a century and a half. Ten years ago, Beacon's director Helene Atwan called the occasion of our 150th anniversary “a milestone a mere handful of active houses can claim.” Now, to mark our 160th anniversary, we’re unveiling a new logo that we hope will visualize our abiding mission to publish the most groundbreaking works of our time.
The snow burying my car this week had me dreaming of Miami, where I was lucky enough to spend four days late last month. I went for the 30th annual Miami Book Fair International, certainly the most exhilarating literary event of the year, and a rare opportunity for me to catch up with some of our own writers plus a few good friends I don’t see often enough. Beacon had four authors presenting this year, representing the range of our list and giving me the chance to hang out in the expansive author reception lounge, where chefs in toques offered breakfast, lunch, and endless tasty snacks.
Today's post is from Caitlin Meyer, a publicist here at Beacon Press, who was recently quoted in Publisher's Weekly.
On Friday I returned from New York where I had been attending 2010's BEA (BookExpo America) conference. After taking the long weekend to recuperate from all the activity, I wanted to share the experience with our Beacon Broadside readers. Last week, I, along with our Director, Helene Atwan, our Publicity Director, Pam MacColl, and our Executive Editors, Amy Caldwell and Gayatri Patnaik, came together with friends and colleagues from the book world to celebrate the past, present, and future of publishing. Here are some highlights from our four days in New York:
This year the event was held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. Beacon Press was one of 1,500 exhibitors in attendance, with an estimated 22,000 people in attendance.
The conference kicked off on Tuesday with a plenary meeting for the exhibitors titled, "The Value of a Book." Everyone gathered to watch a heated discussion about the current state of publishing and how upcoming changes to the industry will affect agents, authors, and publishers alike.
When it was over we headed straight upstairs to the exhibit hall to set up our booth.
We were promoting some of our most anticipated titles for the fall, including Swan, the twentieth poetry collection from Mary Oliver, and our very first graphic novel, an adaptation with Jamar Nicholas of Geoffrey Canada's memoir, Fist Stick Knife Gun. Our booth was well positioned near our new distributor, Random House.
Later that morning Pam and I attended the panel discussion, "Building Online Reader Communities with an Eye on ROI." The entire conference, including this panel, was being live tweeted all week. The benefit of social networking has been an ongoing conversation in the publishing world for quite some time now. This panel included a discussion about how authors, bookstores, and publishers can use these new technologies to their advantage.
Things were in full swing by Wednesday. Everyone was busy taking meetings with agents, authors, editors, producers, and booksellers.
Across the aisle from us, new author, Vordak, was trying to lure people in with his plans to take over the world. Helene took a moment to pose for a photo with him. I couldn't hear what they were talking about, but I assume they were comparing notes on world domination tactics.
Later in the afternoon, C-SPAN BookTV stopped by to talk to Pam about our
new fall list. She did an amazing job discussing our upcoming books. The producers even stopped back the next day to compliment her, (we'll be sure to share a link when the video airs).
In fact, she did such a great job that Mr. Bananagrams himself agreed to have his photo taken with her.
On Thursday we started the day out at the "Adult Book & Author Breakfast," hosted by Jon Stewart.
Stewart was a part of an author panel, along with John Grisham, Condoleezza Rice, and Mary Roach. Each of the authors gave a tease for their upcoming book and took part in a Q&A with the audience. Stewart made it clear that he was less than pleased with the direction of the audience's somewhat self-serving questions, but we didn't mind his blunt approach. After all, "The Daily Show" has been a friend to Beacon this year.
The rest of the day was spent much like Wednesday had been: taking meetings, connecting with the media and booksellers, and continuing to spread the word about Beacon Press. The view from our booth did change that day though. Vordak was gone and replaced by this guy...
...who I believe comes from Middleworld. He was the strong and silent type, but was nice enough to pose with me. The picture is blurry because everyone was rushing around the exhibit hall to make sure they took it all in before the end of the day. I think my photographer might have gotten jostled by a passing book enthusiast.
As the day wound down I really began to appreciate everything I'd seen and done during the week. This was my first BEA and I felt very grateful for and inspired by my wonderful and knowledgeable colleagues.
I was also honored to be a part of the thriving community of publishing professionals and book lovers. Each year we hear more and more about the fast approaching "death of print." Yet, each year Beacon Press and other publishers around the globe bring in new and exciting writers who help us to keep books alive in the marketplace. Yes, there was much discussion about ebooks and Twitter accounts. Yes, the print industry, from books to newspapers, is facing new challenges. And yes, publishing will need to continue to evolve in order to keep up with changing technologies. But one of the most valuable lessons I took away from BEA was that there are still few things that excite people as much as the prospect of writing, publishing, or reading a good book. If the community and enthusiasm of this year's attendees is any indication of our publishing future, I think we'll be ok.
Oh…and while I was in NYC, I also went to the Museum of Natural History. It can't be all work all the time!