Sunday, June 03, 2007

BEA Day 3: Pop-Up Lightsabers, Lotsa Buttons and a Guy Who "Gets It"

BEA 2007I have proven that the people who run the BookExpo America actually read my blog, because the air conditioning was running wonderfully today on the final day of BEA. Third day's the charm! I know that by, say, Comic-Con standards, a three-day trade show is a piker, but it's a hard long show, especially if you're there to work either as an exhibitor or an attendee, and the comfortable decrease in temperature (it was almost a little too chilly in the hour previous to the floor's opening to attendees this morning!) took a little bit of the edge off. Sure, my legs and arms still ache, I haven't slept enough and am exhausted, and my hooves have bubbly blisters on them, but at least I wasn't soaking with sweat today.

It was another busy day. BEA Sundays are traditionally the lowest attendance of the three days, and this one kept to that pattern with a sparser crowd, but there were still plenty of folks sweeping through the aisles and stoppin' by to see our fine books and sales reps. We'll have to wait a few days for Publishers Weekly to report on the show attendance records, but every single day seemed to be the busiest and highest-attended BEA in many years, including the most recent New York City ones.

No signings or events in the Norton booth today, but there's still plenty of work to do: fun pals from all parts of the book industry stop by to say hi and hear about our books, and there's still plenty of time to wander hobble around the BEA pavilions, partly to pick up trade catalogues for later perusal, but mostly just to see if there was any more cool stuff to see. And there was! That's the beauty of BEA: it's so varied and vast that even over three days you don't always see it all. (Note to the people who run the BookExpo America, whom I have proven actually read my blog: do not make it longer!) I haven't had a chance to swing through the lower level children's' exhibitions, so a quick hop on the escalator and I'm into the wonderful world of kids. First stop: the Candlewick Books booth, where I get to cast my peepers on their upcoming X-Men Pop-Up:

I like this series because it actually uses classic art from the big-name artists who made the characters what they are, rather than the more modern and sometimes generic house art. What better way to introduce new comics fans to the energy and power of the art of Dave Cockrum and Jack Kirby than by pokin' 'em in the face with it?:

How entranced was I by this X-Men Pop-Up book? So entranced that I completely failed to notice there was free candy right behind it.

But the belle of the pop-up book ball at BEA certainly has to be Scholastic's Star Wars Pop-Up. How freakin' cool is this? So freakin' cool the lightsabers light up!:

Scholastic is also the home of Harry Potter, and I was kindly given a wonderful Harry tote bag by a smiling Scholastic rep. But no matter how much I asked she would not let me look at any copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I guess they really are keeping that a secret! I had to satisfy my Harry fandom by stopping by the Klutz Press booth and examining the very-cool Build Your Own Hogwarts Castle Set:

And so I did! With a little help from the kind Klutz reps. Tiny little cardboard Dumbledore not included.

You can also meet plenty of fine pals around the children's floor:

Here's a cow friend who is afraid of pins:

But this guy is just plain noisy:

And look! I can learn Spanish with Batman! Repeat after me: Soy la maldición Batman del dios!

Back upstairs, I swing by the Newmarket Press booth to discover to my dismay that I did not win the Dreamgirls contest drawing. I will never get to meet Beyoncé at this rate!:

But at the HarperCollins booth, I'm instantly cheered up by the announcement that at last, David Michaelis's Charles Schulz biography is coming this fall. Good grief!:

I'm not a massive Artemis Fowl fan, but a free 16-page color preview of the upcoming Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel looks well-done and entertaining, with solid art by Giovanni Rigano. I'm all for anything that introduces kids to the medium of comics by using their favorite characters from lit:

And I'm absolutely gobsmacked at how wonderfully beautiful Little Brown's Tintin boxed set will be (this is the French edition, but the English one is coming soon):

Diligent Little Brown reps kept me from drooling all over their sample Tintin box and instead gave me a wonderful Tintin bag! I will sit in it and wait for the box set to come out:

And let's not forget the main reason to attend BEA: enough free promotional buttons to cover me from head to toe!:

In my final daily report from last year's BEA, I lamented some of the lost chances Marvel Comics had (and blew) to present and promote their graphic novels to a captive audience of trade booksellers. As I reported this past Friday, Marvel gets a slightly better grade, but today on my wanders through the BEA aisles I met and got a chance to chat with a guy who "gets it"—Boom! Studio's Ross Richie.

I stepped up to the Boom! Booth, stuck out my hoof and introduced myself to Ross as a friend of Kevin Church. To Ross's credit and professionalism, he did not reply "Aren't you a little short for a bottle of whiskey?" but instead greeted me energetically and enthusiastically, and we talked about the BEA show and the comics industry. Ross kindly gave me some cool Boom! comics:

...but more impressive than the gift of free comics, was a sheaf of thorough and professional color sales sheets for his upcoming titles that Ross gave me:

There's a lot of information on these sell sheets, and it's exactly the sort of information I didn't see Marvel offering visitors to its booth: sales handles and selling points, marketing, comparables, author biographies, and full book descriptions: absolutely everything a bookstore buyer or manager needs to get up to speed on a Boom! trade paperback. Ross also showed me an advance copy of the second Hero Squared trade paperback, which was beautifully done: great trim size (6" x 9"), excellent price point ($14.99), beautiful color and intriguing back cover copy. Boom! also is now distributed to the bookstore trade by publisher Perseus, a smart move which will increase Boom!'s presence in bricks-and-mortar chain and independent and internet booksellers...exactly the audience who is attending BEA. I don't care for every single one of Boom!'s comics, but I'm exceptionally impressed by their business plan and BEA presence, and I wish Ross and company all the best. I think that he "gets" it in ways some bigger companies...and I'm not even talking specifically comic companies...don't. And that, as I like to say, is a very Good Thing. In the end, it's what makes BEA worthwhile: not just the parties, not just the freebies, not even the chance to see Stephen Colbert...but a great place to meet bookstore managers and buyers and promote and sell your books. Getting a wider and more extensive range of graphic novels into general trade bookstores is definitely a good thing, and that's what BEA is all about.

It's now many hours later. We've torn down the big Norton booth ("The Grey Lady"), we've packed up our books, we've had our last BEA dinner and we've hobbled to our airplanes and homes. I'm aching and tired and exhausted but filled with the buzz and energy from an excellent and productive BEA. Why, I've got so much energy that I think can get lots more done tonight! Why, I'll finish that Wodehouse book and get a head-start on my blog entry for tomorrow, watch some of the shows Tivoed in my absence, play with my much-missed kittycat, maybe do the dishes and...then (yawnnnnnnnnn)...then I'll...



EM said...

That Tintin set looks wonderful. Does it include all the books?

PS There's a Bully-dedication at my blog today.

Lance Fensterman said...

Glad we cooled it down for you on Saturday....

Nice blog.


Anonymous said...

I think why I stuck with the Fowl books was because I liked Butler so much. Possibly my second favourite fictional butler.