IBPA Report from BookExpo/BookCon 2015
By Angela Bole, IBPA Executive Director —
The show floor felt kinetic – more kinetic than I remember it feeling in years past – so I wasn’t surprised to read in yesterday’s PW Daily that total attendance at BookExpo 2015 (May 27-29, 2015) rose 5.2% to 20,895, according to event director Steve Rosato. Couple this with an 80% increase in traffic for the second annual BookCon (May 30-31, 2015), and you can start to appreciate the vibrancy that was BookExpo/BookCon 2015 in New York City.
As in years past, IBPA was honored to represent many members in our Cooperative Booth. This was a growth year for us, as well. Our Cooperative Booth expanded from 40 feet to 60 feet – stretching across the aisle – and featured 409 unique titles, as compared to 339 titles in 2014. We also experienced growth in book signings. We scheduled 47 signings in 2015, as compared to 36 in 2014. We’re excited about this growth, of course, because it means more and more members are taking advantage of the opportunity to network and garner awareness of their work during this large national convention.
Most IBPA members know through experience or information gathering that although it can sometimes work to simply display a book on a shelf at BookExpo, to really benefit from the convention you, or someone you appoint, should be onsite to promote and advocate for it. As with all things business, it’s advisable to research opportunities in advance and plan accordingly. IBPA members attended BookExpo/BookCon 2015 for a variety of reasons, including meeting potential distributors, launching new titles, networking with fellow publishers in their genre, and familiarizing themselves with new technologies.
There were educational sessions, book signing opportunities, author interviews, and cocktail receptions. Barbara Brandt, an IBPA member and 6-time award winning author, pitched her book on the main BookExpo Author Stage because she applied, and was accepted, in advance. Barbara passed out book vouchers and 48 happy professionals walked away with a copy of Your Kids: Cooking! A Recipe For Turning Ordinary Kids Into Extraordinary Cooks.
The point is, if it’s going to work you have to work it. I’m happy to report nearly 200 members attended the convention using free or discounted badges provided by IBPA – 100s more attended via their distributor or because they are large enough to have purchased their own booth on the show floor.
This short video recaps some of what was experienced:
Bringing Back Author Interviews @ BookExpo
The recap video above wasn’t the only video to escape the convention. Last year, IBPA debuted Author Interviews @ BookExpo. We were excited to revamp this program for 2015 and record five new videos for members to use in their promotions.
The Buzz at BookExpo/BookCon 2015
For my part, I heard people talking about lots of things at the convention, but mostly about BookCon and Chicago.
BookCon was tacked onto BookExpo two years ago as a consumer portion of the convention meant to do for general books what Comic Con does for comic books. The 2015 program was largely heralded as a vast improvement over 2014. According to Publishers Weekly, “Reed, for its part, has been touting strong numbers and good reactions to BookCon. The company released final attendance figures of 18,000 for the two-day event, an 80% increase over last year (which was capped at 10,000).”
More than half of the 18,000 BookCon attendees were undoubtedly tween girls looking for futuristic fiction. As a former tween girl obsessed with Ursula K. Le Guin, I can’t say I minded much on a personal level! For more on this, check out Inside the Passionate “Girl-topia” of BookCon: Where Authors are Rock Stars and Geek-Chic Girls Rule on Salon.com.
Regardless of age or genre preference, however, most of the book professionals I spoke with said it was exciting to be among so many committed readers.
Since this was only the second year for BookCon, and the first year it didn’t overlap with BookExpo, 2015 was a year for experimentation. Coming in, no one really knew what to expect. Some booths were set up to sell books to the public, some were not. In IBPA’s Cooperative Booth, members gave away books during official book signings. Next door to our booth, long-time IBPA member Sourcebooks gave away 1,000-1,200 copies each day of 11 titles. The goal, they said, was to grow the readership for debut authors, and for a few authors with sophomore titles publishing in the fall.
One of my favorite quotes describing the BookCon 2015 book frenzy came from Mike Spradlin, Director of Sales & Marketing at Albert Whitman & Company. According to Publishers Weekly, Whitman’s strategy was to fill two bookcases with free overstock by “four or five” authors; on each copy’s back cover was a sticker promoting the author’s fall releases. “It was like a plague of locusts–but in a good way,” Mike said, gesturing toward the barren shelves. “They were friendly locusts.”
If you’re going to have a locust infestation…better they be friendly locusts!
According to ReedPop, the organization responsible for producing BookCon, the 2016 convention will be a one-day event, as it was when it debuted in 2014, and will move to Chicago along with next year’s BookExpo. BookCon 2016 will take place on May 14, 2016 immediately following BookExpo (May 11-13, 2016) at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Which brings us to….
BookExpo/BookCon moves to Chicago in 2016. BookExpo continues a three day run (May 11-13, 2016), to be followed by one day of BookCon (May 14, 2016).
So, what to expect?
If you read the trade press, it seems many of the large New York-based publishers are concerned about having to pay to send staff to a different city. Not to be unsympathetic, but I think they’ll figure out a way to afford it. On behalf of indie publishers, I say: bring it! New York is one of my favorite cities in the world, but it sure isn’t cheap. Chicago will be much more affordable for IBPA members and I hope this means we’ll need to request extra exhibitor badges for all of you who want to attend.
Perhaps, you can image your book here?…
…If so, save the dates! We’ll be announcing registration of BookExpo/BookCon 2016 shortly.
Introducing New Members of the IBPA Team
IBPA is a service organization and when we find good people committed to helping others achieve and succeed, we snatch them up!
This year, we were joined at BookExpo 2015 by a new Vendor Relations Manager, Scott Harvey, and a new Project Coordinator, Mimi Le.
After only a short time on the job, we threw them both into the mix. In particular, Mimi helped members run successful author signings and answered community questions in the booth. I could share many compliments about Mimi, but I think I’ll let this piece of member fan mail cover it:
“Mimi — This is O’Brien Browne, author of the novel My Back Pages, published by Black Rose Writing. I had the great pleasure of meeting and working with you at the recent BookExpo/BookCon in New York City. I would like to thank you once again for you excellent, warm, friendly, and highly efficient and effective service. I greatly appreciated how you, with charm and grace, funneled people to my book signing stand and gave so much of your time and energy to make this event both joyful and successful. Moreover, the entire IBPA staff was friendly, well-organized and extremely helpful. I look forward to future collaboration with you — perhaps even at the ALA book convention on June 27, where I will again be autographing my book at the IBPA booth. With deep thanks and gratitude once again, O’Brien.”
Welcome to the team, Scott & Mimi!
In Further Appreciation
It really does take a village. Before I close, I’d like to thank some other important people and organizations who helped make IBPA’s participation in BookExpo/BookCon 2015 possible.
Please join me in a heartfelt THANK YOU to the following IBPA members for volunteering in our Cooperative Booth:
— Paul Aertker
— Robin Bartlett
— Selene Castrovilla
— Jason Edwards
— Jack Estes
I also sincerely appreciate the hard work provided by the following people in the production of the onsite catalog:
— Patti Grasso, IBPA Executive Assistant
— Francesca Droll & John Webster, IBPA Graphic Designers
— Janice Schnell-Butler, Lightning Source
And my thanks to those members who purchased a private booth through IBPA, including:
Finally, it’s no exaggeration to say this program would not be possible without the incredible dedication and overall good cheer of Terry Nathan, IBPA Chief Operations Officer. Thank you, Terry…again!
We’ll See You Next Year!
The large community of IBPA members (over 3,000 in total) truly embody our association motto: “Helping Each Other Achieve & Succeed”. It was a privilege to work along side so many of you at BookExpo/BookCon 2015.
Yes, we’re already planning for next year. We want to make the experience even bigger and better for IBPA members. Please send me your suggestions. I’m happy to have them and hope to see you next year!
About the Author:
Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Executive Director, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business. Before that, Angela served for two years as BISG’s Associate Director and two years as its Marketing and Communications Manager. Angela also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum.