PubU and BEA are two events that I look forward to attending every year. Not because I love to travel, but because you can learn so much about the industry in which we all participate. This year was especially exciting not just because I was on a panel (Kate Bandos’ Pub102 presentation), but because I was asked to moderate a session for the first time. We titled it “Become a Media Magnet – Top Pros Reveal Secrets to Use Every Day” and the panel I assembled using HARO was awesome. Part of our session was called “speed pitching” – audience members volunteered to stand up and spend one minute pitching the panel on their book, then the experts gave them feedback. Everyone loved it and learned so much.
If you haven’t been to PubU and BEA, you really need to figure out a way to go. You will learn so much in such a short time and the networking with other authors, publishers and industry insiders can’t be beat. Where else could you have lunch with Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Brian Jud, Penny Sansevieri and more? Where else could you talk to Random House staff, make an appointment to talk to distributors, see what Amazon is up to, learn about selling foreign rights and so much more. This is where decision makers hang out all in one place, once a year.
Publishing University was held at the lovely Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan which created a regal backdrop for the three days of non-stop classes with events each evening to provide time for socializing and networking. Of course the big focus of the classes this year was on Web 2.0 and social media, with e-books also a hot topic. Virtually every session talked about those topics from one point of view or another. Although attendance was down, those who came were really engaged in learning to make their publishing businesses better and more successful. The 7AM “Ask the Expert” forum each morning was well attended by early risers with coffee in hand. This is where you can go to seek one-on-one advice on subjects ranging from printing to marketing to publicity and more.
The economy cast a distinct dampening on both events. Attendance at BEA was down, booths were smaller, the flamboyant displays and wandering entertainment were all but absent, yet there was a certain earnestness about the event that was refreshing. The Javits Center was eerily empty of both booths and people. However, there seemed to be more serious conversations happening in many of the booths and in the IBPA booth where I took a turn working, the usual cadres of librarians were making notes about books they liked and wanted to order. Hopefully the smaller turnout meant more serious buyers.
The real highlight of the show was the Expresso Book Machine in the Lightening Source booth. A somewhat “Rube Goldberg”-looking device, this machine can pump out a completed book every four minutes. True “on demand” printing. It is basically two copiers (one black and white for the interiors and one color for the covers) with a book binding machine sandwiched between them and a computer monitor to select your book. You can watch a video of it here. Just think of the applications beyond the book store – cruise ships, hospitals, resorts, large businesses – any place where people congregate, want to read, and may not be convenient to a book store.
Next year both events will again be in New York with BEA downsizing by one day and moving the event to mid-week. How that will effect Publishing University is unclear at this time, but now is the time to start setting some money aside to go – I flew for $129 each way, shared a room with a fellow author, took advantage of all the free food included in your admission, and walked or took van transportation – all to save money and make the trip economical. The experience and knowledge were, well, priceless.