We go to NYC

Mon 30 May 2011 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin

But we don’t take any pictures. Not true. More like: we haven’t yet uploaded any. Soon(ish).

We’re back from BookExpo (BEA) where we missed more than ever. At a convention that big you always know there’s something you’re missing. This time, even with lower attendance and fewer exhibitors than in the past, I missed more due to our own little chaos field: our 2-year-old daughter, Ursula. To a 2-y.o. kid, BEA is: lights, balloons, not a great place to nap, full of strangers—some are nice (some will give you books!), some scary. And unlike her parents, she did not want to be tethered to one spot, meet people, and talk about books. She wanted to go go go. So go we went. Which was great for catching up with other exhibitors and occasionally picking up a book: thanks to Frazer & Sally of Park Road Books in Charlotte we got a couple of indestructible books from Workman which, true to their name, have yet to be destroyed. Amazing how many books fall apart if they’re read every day.

The one outside event I went to was an sf reading/q&a I MC-ed which was organized by Gina Gagliano of First Second Books and the New York Public Library. It was a fun night with readings by Lev Grossman, John “William Shatner” Scalzi,  Cat Valente, and Scott Westerfled. Brian Slattery and three other musicians accompanied the readings and there was a q&a afterward. I made a few mistakes: I thought it was the year 2911 and this was 1000th anniversary of the Stephen Schwarzman building and that I was introducing historians, not futurians. But it all seemed to work out ok. I don’t know how the afterparty went as I had to slope off and put the kid to sleep. New Yorkers who like the sci-fi: NYPL has you covered this summer.

We skipped having a Small Beer booth and just had a few of our upcoming books up on display in Consortium’s area. Consortium distros some of our favorite indie presses so we got to spend time with the Bobby and John Byrd from  Cinco Puntos (and Ursula received a couple of lovely books here: Colores de la Vida, and ABeCedarios), Claudia and Daja (and their beautiful kid’s books—including the hilarious Pomelo Begins to Grow and the fabulous People) from Enchanted Lion, Allan Kornblum and about-to-be-the-new-publisher Chris Fischbach from Coffee House, and Erika and Molly at Bellevue—who found a last-minute copy of Melissa Pritchard’s The Odditorium: Stories for us, so yay for that. And, you know, hundreds more. The busiest part of Consortium was probably the Akashic booth where Adam Mansbach spent a few days signing his phenomenon Go the F*** to Sleep. We didn’t get a copy but that’s ok as Ursula’s usually a good sleeper. (Unless of course we drive back to Boston from NYC late at night and she can’t get to sleep properly in her carseat: days of chaos follow!)

One of those galleys we had was Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic and the interior designer, India Amos, dropped by to see her work in print. She used a new font for the book, Espinosa Nova, which she says was “designed by Cristóbal Henestrosa in 2010. It is a revival of type used by Antonio de Espinosa, who was the foremost Mexican printer of the sixteenth century and probably the first punchcutter on the American continent.” In other words: excellent matching of font to subject! That’s a book which is creating quite a bit of excitement.

There wasn’t a big book of the show and while there were still people dragging around suitcases full of books. We picked up (literally) a few books each. Most of the big authors signings were done in booth (making for huge on-the-floor lines) but between being at our spot and being Ursula’s backup there wasn’t much time to stand in queues. Kelly waited in line for one book (as recommended by Gwenda), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and the person in front of her was the last one to get a copy! She was so sad. But the next day while the three of us were wandering a lovely person at Random House said they’d send us a copy. Fingers crossed! Sounds like a great read. Kelly brought me a copy of Luis Alberto Urrea‘s new novel, Queen of America, which is a followup to The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Can’t wait to read it. Love his books.

One of the challenges of the Javits Center is that it isn’t on a subway line and there are barely any restaurants within a short walk (i.e. useful for someone who doesn’t want to miss too much). Where are all those famed NYC food trucks? Bah! But this year in the (overpriced and noisy) food court there was a restaurant called the Farmer’s Market which had actual fresh and delightful things and was so good we had food from there on Tues + Wed . . . and were sad that it was closed on Thursday. Hardly ate any of the proffered sweets and so on from the exhibitors but a kind gentleman brought Kelly and I a Complete Idiots cupcake that was so huge we were happy to to split it. Tchotchkes? Didn’t pick up any!

Late in the third day (late being say 2 p.m. on Thursday as the show only ran until 3 that day) Kelly commented that it was funny to have read all those articles about the huge changes/death of the old models in the book business and then to have spent a couple of days here seeing it. I talked to one distributor who said he has 1/6th as many booths as just a few years ago. The show was much smaller than before—although there were a bunch of concurrent shows to try and reach across into different sections of the new book biz.

The end of the show brought a few more bookswaps. I was happy to pick up a couple of books from Biblioasis, The Accident by Mihail Sebastian and Dance with Snakes by Horacio Castellanos Moya. Bibliooasis are a juggernaut of Canadian and international lit—their tag line is “The best in indielit”—and I could believe it. But I like the indie things so much more than the behemoth things, so maybe I am biased.

Then, after some exciting sekrit meetings which may produce some exciting things in the next couple of years we drove back to Boston (see above) and proceeded to try and catch up on sleep (ha!) and missed WisCon (boo!). We won’t be at BEA next year due to other commitments. After that? It’s anyone’s guess.

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