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BEA

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Yesterday, I woke up at noon, having slept for 13 hours. That should tell you all you need to know: it was BEA the week before. And this was an easy one, compared to the last two years. I deliberately tried to go slow and skip all the meetings I could, and still, the expo crawled into my soul and took root.

This year’s BEA was…strange. There weren’t a lot of books on the floor, an odd sight compared to 2009, when I ran around like a kindergartener on a Pixy Stix high, grabbing ARCs and pressing them to my chest in a delirious rush of paper. I only filled up one bag this year, which was good for my shoulders but put me in a funky mood. (ALA was a much better haul, and I hope I’ll be reporting the same about the expo in June in New Orleans.) Not that I want to rob booksellers and librarians of their ARCs but…I need to stay on top of new releases, too…or so I tell myself to sleep more soundly.

There was a lot of talk about digital…a lot. The day before the expo floor opened was all about digital publishing and social networking and all of that. My colleague Laura Rennert was on a panel about new publishing models. You can read more about that from my KidlitApps post, here.

I wanted to run around and post with pictures of upcoming book ARCs, but Random House, the publisher of BUGLETTE, A MESSY SLEEPER had a very small footprint on the floor (though I suppose it’s better than when they had no presence at all), and S&S didn’t have ARCs of WILDEFIRE available. I did manage to find an ARC of MERCY LILY by Lisa Albert at the Flux booth, and pose with it, so the tradition remained alive. Here’s hoping to even more smiley shots at ALA.

The Buzz Panels this year were great. Lots of exciting books. You can read a write-up of the YA panel here, and the MG panel here. I’ve already tucked into THE APOTHECARY by Maile Meloy, which I’d heard about originally from Jen Besser, the editor, at a meeting in the fall. It’s really good so far, and I can’t wait to see the whole package with all of the art. Also in my suitcase this weekend were DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor and AU REVOIR CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber from the YA buzz panel. I’m really happy we had a MG panel, and hope that tradition continues.

There were also some hotly buzzed ARCs at the expo. If it had been my first BEA, I would’ve gamely waited in line to get them. This year? Feh. But if someone wants to send me THE FUTURE OF US, the new Jay Asher/Carolyn Mackler juggernaut, I will happily provide my mailing address. Yes, it is an ABLA book. No, I did not get an ARC. No, I am not above begging. There’s also an adult (gasp!) book that was getting all the buzz at the expo…THE NIGHT CIRCUS. Anybody got that lying around?

My favorite things about BEA weren’t in the official BEA program. They were run-ins with agents, editors, authors, and other publishing friends on the floor, as always. They were late-night NYC adventures with out-of-towners who just neeeeed, in my opinion, to have an enthusiastic tour guide show them what the view from the Brooklyn Bridge is like in the middle of the night. They were afternoon drinks after the last expo day with people as exhausted as you are, who just want to stare at a wall, mouths slightly ajar. Oh, yes, and also going to the Teen Author Carnival to cheer on my client, Karsten Knight, whose WILDEFIRE is coming July 26th! You can see us here, debuting our ridiculously good-looking glasses (and Karsten in his apron that’s stuffed full of bookmarks for the book).

On Friday night, I was out in the languid summer heat, BEA a fuzzy memory already, enjoying a beer or two at the Frying Pan, a barge/ship/dock/beer garden-type thing on 12th Avenue and 26th Street. I turned uptown to get out of the wind and my eyes fell immediately onto the shimmering black jewel that is the Javits Center. No joke, my blood pressure spiked and I whirled back around. It was good having you in town, BEA. It looks like it’ll be a whole year before our paths cross again. Somehow, I’m okay with that.

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BEA (Book Expo America) ended yesterday and, as of this morning, I’m finally feeling a bit more human. Expo week is always huge, busy, and full of friends, colleagues, parties and, of course, ARCs.

frazee_the_boss_babySome of the highlights of the week for me were: the Teen Author Carnival, running into Marla Frazee and her editor (Marla’s newest book, out this fall, THE BOSS BABY, is one of my absolute new favorites), seeing my fantastic colleagues (and our agency’s phenomenal foreign rights and subrights co-agent, Taryn Fagerness).

BEA is always crowded and it’s hard to get where you’re going without running into people you know or recognize if you’ve circulated in the publishing industry for any length of time. So you can set up all the meetings you want, but you’ll always be surprised by who you bump into.

brown_childrenI also loved meeting Peter Brown (whose newest picture book from Little, Brown, CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS, out this fall, is the best thing I’ve ever seen), reconnecting with some old friends and making plenty of new ones (just in time for my move!), meeting agents from the tight-knit agenting community in NYC, and seeing an AWESOME panel for the new GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS anthology coming out this fall from HarperCollins/Walden Media (the panel featured children’s book heavyweights Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Jeff Kinney, David Lubar and the editor of the anthology, Jordan Brown).

keplinger_the_duffIn terms of YA news and ARCs, I went to the YA Editor’s Buzz panel, an annual event where five excited editors talk about the big books on their list. Ally Condie’s MATCHED was the big book for Penguin, of course, Erin Bow’s PLAIN KATE was Scholastic’s exciting new find, Rebecca Maizel had INFINITE DAYS on the St. Martin’s list, and Sophie Jordan’s FIRELIGHT will be coming out from HarperTeen, but there is one book that I kept hearing about over and over and over again: THE DUFF, coming this fall from Little, Brown.

Kody Keplinger was seventeen, I believe, when she wrote THE DUFF (which stands for “The Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend” in insult lingo). She appeared at the Teen Author Carnival, had several signings and panels at BEA, has sold movie and foreign rights all over the place, was flagged by her publicist and editor wherever she went and was otherwise a consummate professional…and she’s just getting started! I can’t wait to read THE DUFF and have heard from pretty much everyone that it is amazing. I had a chance to talk to several Little, Brown editors and they’re really getting behind an amazing list for next season (including Daisy Whitney’s phenomenal debut, THE MOCKINGBIRDS, which got lots and lots of buzz).

the-mockingbirdsOther impressions I got at BEA from editors and panels and all that jazz: paranormal needs to be absolutely unique (don’t start writing a vampire, angel, werewolf or zombie book unless you want to give yourself the steepest odds possible). This applies to mythology, too (Greek and Egyptian will be a hard sell unless we haven’t heard about those characters before).

Mermaids are definitely on the uptick in terms of acquisitions, as is dystopian: those books will start coming out next season. Editors are definitely looking for thrillers, contemporary/realistic, mystery and stories of friendship, romance, and betrayal, in both MG and YA. This is great because all of these themes are right up my alley — I’d love to stop seeing derivative paranormal romance and hear from writers who are really telling unique stories. It’s finally time to break out of the TWILIGHT mold, and it seems like more and more of publishing agrees.

On a purely personal note, I got to meet and fangirl about Bernadette Peters. She was there, signing her newest picture book. I think finally meeting one of my theatre idols made my life at least 117% better. Overall, a fantastic week. Now, off to catch up on emails from all those patient people who’ve been trying to reach me. 🙂

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I am heading into BEA today. Excuse the lazy post but BEA week is always crazy. What are the ARCs you most want to see?

I’ve already read MATCHED, which is a dystopian book that went to auction with seven publishers bidding. What are the other hot reader books you want to know about?

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So, I heard from a lot of people on my ebooks and e-readers post last week. There was even a comment from a bookbinder! Some people were very excited about what possibilities lie ahead with ebooks and interactivity and e-readers that target younger readers (whether or not they’re thrust into a toddlers hands for tantrum control and entertainment!).

A few other readers, though, really seem to be rejecting ebooks because they’re not books. Well, yeah. And my iPad doesn’t come in especially handy once a month, either. The two are patently different and, I’d argue, these two media for enjoying written content serve different purposes and (for the most part) different readerships.

Look, there’s nobody arguing with people who love the touch, smell, feel and experience of printed books. This is a joy that folks have known since Gutenberg fired up his press and dashed off the first mass market illuminated manuscript. (The joke cited in the recent New Yorker article about the iPad and ebooks goes that the second thing Gutenberg printed was a book about the death of publishing…)

So there’s no denying that printed books are one (almost sacred) thing, and ebooks are another. But this isn’t Shark vs. Whale where one dies and sinks at the end. (At least not in our lifetimes…cold comfort and heartless, sure, but if all print media, books included, goes the way of the 8-track tape in 100 years, the good news is we won’t be there to see it. But I really don’t think this will happen.)

However, I think people are going to get themselves in trouble, going forward, by denying the power of ebooks or hoping they go away (and here I’m talking about mostly book and publishing professionals, booksellers, etc., not casual readers). They won’t go away. For readers, those predisposed to reading ebooks are probably already in possession of an e-reader or contemplating one in the near future. (A news article I read recently, but can’t remember where, again, which is maddening, says that something like 26% of people were contemplating buying either an iPad or another e-reader in the next year.) For people who want nothing to do with ebooks, they don’t have to make that choice personally, but they should know that ebooks and e-readers are here to stay.

As I said above, it’s really not either/or. If publishers and booksellers and librarians and other bibliopeople want to be successful, they need to maximize impact and profit with ebooks and the people who read ebooks, while fostering growth for their printed formats, as they’re already used to doing. Publishing’s job isn’t to sell people books, it’s to sell people stories and content.

Some people, and I agree, though I have yet to really dig in to some numbers or a case study, believe that having both an ebook version and a printed version of a work feeds sales for both. Last Tuesday, I went to see Cory Doctrow speak and he said that publishing all of his books as a web serial and in ebook format hasn’t stopped sales of his printed work or replaced (in his customer’s mind) a need to own the printed version. If anything, he thinks his printed book sales have benefited from how available his work is online and for e-readers.

Again, this is going to be a huge issue that won’t die or become less important in our lifetimes. There are so many opinions and so many perspectives. From Cory Doctrow — who believes in ultimate freedom and publishes his work under a Creative Commons License — to the bookseller who just had to shutter his or her independent store because the times, they are a-changin’. I can’t even pretend to be comprehensive in these posts, but I hope I am giving you some good food for thought.

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Speaking of publishing, I’m in New York for BEA (Book Expo America), a huge publishing trade show, this week. I’ll be having meetings, going to panels, going to lunch, going to parties, and grabbing ARCs for three days straight. I know I’ll have many more thoughts on digital content once this week is over!

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I mean it. Mad. Ness.

Okay, so I have some pictures that I’ll put up here after I get home and I have tons of ideas for posts. However, I would just like to take this opportunity to summarize BEA 2009. Here are the essential stats:

Authors met: 27
ARC’s received: 21
Hopeless geeky crushes on other book nerds: 2*
Editors met: 11
Red Bulls imbibed: 3 (We all know I’d be lying if I didn’t put down at least “5”)
Bars attended with writers and friends: 5
Official publishing parties attended: 2
24-hour diners eggs-benedict-ed in: 1

And now for the most shocking (to me) numbers of all: sleep stats. I arrived on Thursday at 6 p.m. and am leaving Sunday at 11 a.m.

Total hours in NYC: 64
Total hours slept on Thursday night: 4.5
Total hours slept on Friday night: 4
Total hours slept on Saturday night: 0
Total hours slept: 8.5

No sleep ’til… Book Expo! I can’t imagine this sheer amount of mind-blowing awesomeness will repeat itself but I’ve made up my mind regardless: I am adding BEA to my annual schedule. Like whoa. Heart, soul, mind all agree: this was one of the best, most interesting, most intense and most amazing weekends ever.

* I’ll never tell. Muah hahahaha.

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