Time to Reconsider BEA?: An Open Letter to Reed Exhibitions

October 2003
by Bob Adjemian

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After exhibiting at the BEA for maybe 15 years, I didn’t have a booth this year, even though it was a local show. For that matter, neither did two gurus of self-publishing, Dan Poynter and John Kremer. The open secret is that after a while, for most, the BEA Convention is a waste of money–money that could be better spent on other methods of marketing.

What happened? Why am I knocking a hallowed tradition?
Once upon a time, back when there were many independent booksellers, BEA–then called the ABA (American Booksellers Association) Convention–provided a way for publishers to show their new books to bookstores. You could also acquire foreign rights, but the real reason for exhibiting was to show off your books to booksellers.
Then along came Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other chain stores. Instead of looking at your books at the convention, they want you to go to their headquarters to sell your books. And along came closings for lots of independent bookstores. At BEA conventions now, we find that the blue badge of the bookstore is a rare and endangered species. The show action is mostly exhibitors looking at the books of other exhibitors.

Sure, booksellers do come by. Also, there may be a lot of foreign rights activity, and you do see authors and members of the press, especially book reviewers (or people pretending to be reviewers who want free books). But the question for each small press to decide is whether the $4,000-$10,000 spent on…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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