For the second time in two years, Reed Exhibitions is making significant changes to BookExpo. To give more focus to the 2017 event, Reed shortened the number of days the exhibit floor at New York City’s Javits Center was open from three to two, while holding panels and other events on the Wednesday before the floor opened. In 2018 Reed has implemented a new schedule. Publishers who do not want to participate in BookCon, which runs June 2–3, immediately following BookExpo, have the option to open their booths from May 30 to June 1. Publishers who want to take part in both BookExpo and BookCon will be at the Javits for four days—two days at BookExpo and two days at BookCon. There is also a third option for publishers, exhibiting just at BookCon.
Ed Several, senior v-p of BookExpo, says Reed made the change after talking to publishers and others. “Some of our customers wanted three full days for BookExpo, so we made the change to accommodate them,” he notes. Approximately 150 exhibitors have signed on for the three-day BookExpo show.
Though the exhibition schedule is designed to give publishers more options, Reed has also instituted a number of changes aimed at increasing the interaction between publishers and booksellers as part of what Reed is calling a “reimagined BookExpo.” “While we will take care to support the entire distribution chain, we will have a special focus on booksellers,” Several says.
One of the centerpieces of the new-look show is what BookExpo executives are calling “Editor’s Hours.” Under the program, BookExpo will facilitate “chats” between booksellers and editors in publishers’ booths. Reed has created four sessions: Wednesday, May 30, 11 a.m.–noon; Thursday, May 31, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 1–2 p.m.; and Friday, June 1, 1–2 p.m. As of May 1, about 40 publishers and 100 editors had signed on to participate.
“We want this to be very informal, while providing booksellers with more opportunities to gain more insights about books that are coming out,” Several says. Reed will post the schedule of editors’ times on its website, in its app, and in handouts on the show floor.
Reed has developed a similar program for booksellers to meet with publicists. Publicist in-booth meetings will run on Friday, 2–4 p.m.; the organizer views the program as a good way for booksellers to talk to publicists about setting up in-store events. Reed is coordinating the meetups online.
The 2018 show floor itself has also been tweaked and will feature four author stages (up from two last year), where booksellers can hear authors discuss their books. “More stages, more author appearances,” Several notes. BookExpo has also beefed up its sideline offerings, including adding café products. “We want BookExpo to be a one-stop shop for booksellers,” Several adds.
Another new initiative is the Vital Bookstore. An interactive exhibit, the bookstore will feature four life-size walk-through models: a café, a store with modern décor and sideline merchandising strategies, a traditional store with a classic library look and shelving designs, and a children’s store with special features to engage young readers. Visitors can explore the store three ways: they can take a self-guided tour, take a small-group (8–10 people) guided tour, or join one of numerous 45-minute dialogue sessions with bookstore owners and thought leaders on a variety of topics. The store will be open May 31–June 3 to booksellers, publishers, and librarians.
To entice more booksellers from outside the Northeast to attend the show, BookExpo has arranged discounted hotel and travel packages. So far registration is 4% ahead of 2017, Several says. In an initiative to provide attendees with the views of some of publishing’s leaders, Reed has worked with AAP to develop two CEO roundtables. The first, set for Wednesday at 10 a.m., will look at copyright policy and feature 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.
A second roundtable will feature Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House; Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon Schuster; and John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan. Set for 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, the panel will examine industry trends, market highlights, and the power and responsibilities of publishers as global, corporate citizens.
The last major change for this year’s BookExpo is Reed’s agreement with the New York Rights Fair, through which the NYRF, beginning this year, will become the official rights fair of BookExpo. Reed will move the event’s rights center to the NYRF, which will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, located a short distance away from the Javits Center, on West 18th Street. All of BookExpo’s rights-oriented exhibitors have the option to move to premium space at the NYRF or remain at the Javits.
The NYRF is a collaboration between BolognaFiere, which runs the Bologna Children’s Book Fair; Publishers Weekly; and the Combined Book Exhibit. As part of the agreement, the NYRF badge holders will have full access to the BookExpo exhibition floor, while BookExpo badge holders with a “Rights” badge designation will have full access to the NYRF. Shuttle buses will travel between the two events.
Several says Reed is excited to be working with NYRF: “The NYRF’s focus on rights will be a real complement to BookExpo. They bring their expertise on rights, and we bring our focus on retailing.”
In addition to offering a venue for making deals, the NYRF will feature three days of programming, with panels that include a look at the success of four international bestsellers, exploring the booming audio rights market, and what Hollywood sees in emerging content platforms.
Reed did not limit its changes to BookExpo. BookCon also has some new elements. Since its inception, BookCon has attracted a large YA audience. In a bid to broaden its demographic reach, Reed has added more authors in major genres like mystery/thriller, sci-fi, romance, and nonfiction, while also developing more family activities. “The team has done a great job of building a program that reflects what is being published today,” Several says. A big draw for readers of all kinds should be Bill Clinton and James Patterson, who will both be on hand Sunday promoting their jointly written novel, The President Is Missing.
The goal of all the changes, Several explains, is in keeping with the theme that BookExpo “is the place where the business of bookselling gets done in North America.”