As I walked into the large convention center yesterday morning, I was numb struck by the number of people pulling large rolling suitcases. They couldn't be just coming in from the airport. It was the fourth day of the book conference. It took me a little while, but I realized the participants were all walking in with empty suitcases so they could fill them with books to take home.
I was in my nirvana - Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javits Center in New York City. Just 5 hours later, I, too, was lugging huge bags of books. I shipped home 26 pounds of books! And not just any books. Mostly free advance readers copies of soon to be published books by Michael Chabon, J.R. Moehringer, Scott Hutchins and many more. Generous publishers gave me travel guides, collections of essays and more fiction than I can read in a year. I was a happy girl. Now I just have to find the time to read them all…
Book Expo America 2012 was an overwhelming sensory experience. I was surrounded by the smell of new paper and ink, the sound of thousands of people talking about books, and the feel of the crisp pages in my hand. The convention floor was familiar - many of the same big publishers as the two library conventions I have attended. Booksellers are just as large an audience as librarians, but there were probably more of the smaller publishing companies. I think it was definitely a larger event than ALA, on the exhibitors’ floor anyway. And it was all about selling books. And I once again went crazy picking up books. I tried to be choosy - more selective than the last ALA I went to - but I somehow ended up with those 26 pounds of books.
It all started with author breakfast where I got three free advance copies of books - Michael Chabon's highly anticipated Telegraph Avenue, the first novel from J.R. Moehringer (whose memoir I loved) -Sutton - and Jimmy Fallon's hilarious Thank You Notes. I heard all three of those authors speak along with Zadie Smith, who just published what has been called her best novel yet, NW (September release) and Kirstie Alley, who has written a hilarious-sounding book, release in November, called The Art of Men.
Zadie Smith gave the best homage to booksellers when she stressed their importance in this highly digital society. She said “hand selling” a novel is the “deepest connection” a person can make. Smith praised bookstore workers who are able to say, “If you liked this book, you’ll love this one…” In the months ahead, I hope to make that same connection with you, my blog readers, as I read this stack of advance copies of soon-to-be-great novels and make my own connection with you. Let me hear from you.