This year, Reed Exhibitions’ stated goal is to reimagine BookExpo as a place where the business of bookselling gets done in North America. For those who remember the conferences of yore, some of this reimagining rings retro, but much of the mission is realized through fresh programming aimed at getting booksellers and publishers face-to-face, as well as addressing the most pressing topics facing publishers today. Here’s a look at some of Wednesday, May 30’s can’t-miss events.
The morning begins with a look at the business of bookselling with BookExpo 2018 Grand Opening: Len Riggio, Chairman of Barnes Noble Inc., on the Bookselling Industry (9:15–10 a.m., Midtown Stage). Riggio will open the show with a keynote speech on the importance of bricks-and-mortar stores and how they serve the modern reader and the community at large. In a show of solidarity on the bookstore front, Riggio will be introduced by Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association. The keynote is sponsored by Ingram.
Directly following the grand opening is State of the Industry: Publishing and Copyright Policy (10–10:45 a.m., Room 1E12). Hillel Italie, publishing reporter for the Associated Press, will moderate this panel that features influential voices on copyright law: Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild; and Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance. The discussion will focus on the equities of copyright law as they relate to authors, publishers, and other aspects of the public interest, including the promise of global digital commerce and the evolving legal landscape in the courts and on Capitol Hill.
All new this year is In-Booth Editors’ Hours, a program spanning four sessions, the first of which is Wednesday, 11 a.m.–noon. While bookseller and editor interaction has always been part of BookExpo, this focused program features dedicated periods for editors and booksellers to get up-close and personal. The four open house–style sessions will give booksellers information needed to provide well-informed recommendations to their customers. (The second and third sessions take place on Thursday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m.; the fourth and final takes place Friday, June 1, from 1 to 2 p.m.)
At noon is the popular annual ABA’s Celebration of Bookselling and Author Awards Lunch (noon–1:30 p.m., Main Stage), which applauds all things indie. The 2018 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud awards will be presented, as well as the introduction of the Indie Next List authors and award nominees. PW‘s Bookstore of the Year and Rep of the Year awards will also be handed out. Following the lunch, many of the authors, award winners, and nominees will be signing books exclusively for ABA members. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Visit the BookExpo website to book a spot.
For those less hungry for celebration but more concerned about the state of book review coverage, also at noon is the National Book Critics Circle panel, The Crisis in Book Reviewing, Disappearing Space, Disappearing Pay (noon–12:50 p.m., Room 1E10). Carlin Romano—critic-at-large for the Chronicle of Higher Education, v-p of the NBCC, and the author of America the Philosophical—and Christopher Carduff, book editor of the Wall Street Journal, will moderate this discussion with NBCC member Julia M. Klein and other book reviewers. Newspaper book review coverage is in crisis, with space and budgets eliminated or severely reduced, resulting in the same review running in multiple outlets. The panelists will address this problem, as well as exploring whether newer digital ventures make up for the print decline, in terms of space or pay.
Arguably some of the most important and influential activities that affect the success of books by new authors are the much-buzzed-about adult, YA, and children’s Buzz panels, where editors are allowed to put favoritism on full display and share their zeal for upcoming titles. The first of the three, the Adult Editor Buzz Panel, takes place on Wednesday (1:45–3 p.m., Room 1E12/1E13/1E14). The panel will be moderated by Chris Morrow, a former PW Bookseller of the Year who runs the Northshire Bookstores in Manchester, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; and Carol Fitzgerald, president of the Book Report Network. This year’s lineup has Bryn Clark, associate editor of Flatiron, presenting Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks; Cary Goldstein, vice president, executive director of publicity and senior editor at Simon Schuster, touting Ohio, a debut novel by Stephen Markley; and Fiona McCrae, director and publisher of Graywolf, will buzz about She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore, a debut novel set in Liberia’s early years. Becky Saletan, v-p, editorial director of Riverhead Books, will be lavishing praise on Casey Gerald’s memoir, There Will Be No Miracles Here; Krishan Trotman, senior editor at Hachette, will share her excitement about Maid, a debut from Stephanie Land; and Zachary Wagman, executive editor of Ecco, will wax enthusiastic about The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman.
At 3:30 p.m., booksellers can get a jump-start on planning in-store author events for the fall and beyond with the first of the ABA’s two Publicists Speed Dating (3:30–5:30 p.m., Main Stage). In this perennial, lively program, ABA member bookstore owners, managers, and event coordinators meet one-on-one with publicists from several publishers for timed “dates.” Booksellers have a chance to pitch their stores and learn what publicists are looking for when considering venues for author tours. (The second session takes place on Friday, June 1, 9:45–11:45 a.m., at the River Pavilion.)
Wednesday winds down with a bang, not a whimper, when PW’s senior news editor and graphic novels expert Calvin Reid moderates the panel The Graphic Novels You Can’t Miss of 2018 (5:15–6 p.m., Room 1E0). Joining him will be authors Blue Delliquanti (Meal), Tim Fielder (Matty’s Rocket), David Small (Home After Dark), and Ngozi Ukazu (Check, Please!).
Thursday’s Wake-Up Call: A Double Big Bang
The Adult Book Author Breakfast (8 a.m., Main Stage) has long been a BookExpo kickoff tradition that doesn’t disappoint. This year will be no exception with Barbara Kingsolver, Jill Lepore, Megan Mullally, Trevor Noah, Nick Offerman, and Nicholas Sparks taking the stage. What’s new is a return to a panel that hasn’t been on the roster for several years—a gathering of CEOs—so grab another cup of coffee and head to the Leadership Roundtable: Publishers on Publishing (9:45–10:45 a.m., Downtown Stage), which brings together three CEOs: Markus Dohle, Penguin Random House; Carolyn Reidy, Simon Schuster; and John Sargent, Macmillan. Pallante, the president and, yes, CEO of the AAP, will moderate the panel, which will address industry trends, market highlights, and the power and responsibilities of publishers as global corporate citizens. In light of PW’s recent reporting about such matters as morality clauses becoming more common in authors’ contracts, as well as the declining sales of authors under fire from the #MeToo movement, and other issues that fall outside of the balance sheet, this discussion is of the utmost timeliness.