Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Expo America: Day One

It: the world’s biggest publishing trade show. Attending: hundreds of publishers, from one-man tiny to conglomerate massive. In the booths: advance copies of books, by the thousand, all for the collecting. Me: a kid in a candy store.

This year’s Book Expo America -- BEA for those in the industry -- started off with a bang. Thousands of people connected to the book business lined up and jammed into the Jacob Javits Center in New York, hungry for books and canvas tote bags and assorted gimmes. Usually, there’s one book everyone’s talking about. Last year, it was The Passage. This year, there isn’t one -- not yet. But there are two days to go, so anything could happen.

The one book that was pushed to me was When She Woke, a novel by Hillary Jordan that’s coming soon from Algonquin Books. It sure looks great. The matte-finish cover is stunning, the first sentences appear on the front and a blood red profile appears on the back. It looks rich, and it looks like a great read. In other news, the new Jeff Kinney book -- the 6th Wimpy Kid title -- is due this fall. Thus, the six-foot translucent snowglobe at the Abrams booth shown above left.

As for star sightings, I spotted Margaret Atwood, David Baldacci and Florence Henderson, who looks perfectly perky, as if Carol Brady herself had returned from the land of cancelled sitcom moms.

The aisles -- nearly 50, and all of them very long -- were choked with attendees with shoulders aching from carrying their spoils. The mood seemed friendly and warm, like the weather. As always, the autographing aisles were packed, and so was the food court at lunchtime. In a way, that tells the whole story. Celebs... books... bags... and food.

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