Fun at BEA

Category : events, industry

Despite being a faithful employee of the book industry and avid reader, I had never experienced Book Expo America. Shameful, I know. But this year, that all changed.

I expected it to be something akin to ComicCon, but with fewer teenagers and a lack of cosplay. I wasn’t too far off. But it so much cooler than that, even. A trade show floor filled entirely with people promoting books? When I stepped off the escalator after acquiring my badge, I didn’t know what to do. There was too much to take in, and I may have actually experienced sensory overload.

Obligatory trade show floor shot.

There were a bunch of signings I planned to attend, and brought some books with me, but I never made it. You had to buy tickets for a few of them (I’m not doing that), and the others I just missed due to lack of time. But there were plenty of other things to do, even if you’re not hanging around the autograph area. I roamed the floor several times, and there was always something new I had missed the first time. A free ARC, or a poster, and basically everyone was giving out tote bags.

I never even got in there. Look at that crowd.

And no convention is complete without advertisements, and since I’m a sucker for book advertisements…

there’s the Shadow Hunters staircase.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t do a whole lot at BEA aside from walking around. But the floor is my favorite part, and who cares if I didn’t attend any panels or get stuff signed? (There’s always next year.) It’s been three days since and my legs are still sore from six hour of walking, so that’s a sign of a good time.

And lest we forget… the free swag.

I don’t even know what half the stuff I grabbed is. Time to rummage through the pile!

NY Book Show 2012

Category : events, industry

Every year, the Bookbinder’s Guild hosts the New York Book Show, an event where we get to wander around and check out some great-looking books—and win some awards. While most awards focus on a book’s story, these focus on the job of the industry folk. How we put books together; how we use text and paper and all the intricate details of manufacturing.

I’m terrible at getting sneaky photographs. But beyond that mass of people is a display of the industry’s prettiest books of the year, where we can actually pick them up to gush over them. I joked that I was going to steal the copy of Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, which won third place in the YA illustrated novel category. I think it should have been first, but I may be a little biased.

The big surprise to me was seeing one of the books I worked on, winning a merit award for children’s hardcover series. Yay!

(The colorful little stack on the left. Though I’ve been meaning to check out that other series there for some time…)

The guild’s website is here, and I suggest checking out the 26 Annual Gallery for all of this year’s winners. And then you should go to the store and see them in person, because they really are beautiful pieces of craftsmanship.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Ends Print Edition

Category : industry

In 1768, the Britannica released its first set of encyclopaedias. It was the set to own, the place to go for research (well it was, before the Internet came around). But last week, they announced that they’ll be discontinuing their print edition.

Sure, it makes sense in this digital age, and the folks at Britannica are embracing this age themselves. They’re not mourning; they’re welcoming it.

the encyclopedia will live on—in bigger, more numerous, and more vibrant digital forms. And just as important, we the publishers are poised, in the digital era, to serve knowledge and learning in new ways that go way beyond reference works.

Their encyclopaedia is available online, and it’s free to browse until tomorrow (it was actually a week, but with me not being around, I’m a little late on the news). In a sense, the online edition may be a better option. Reference books are quickly outdated, after all, and the Internet can be updated as soon as new information arises. And with a name like Britannica, I trust them to keep their information up-to-date.

It’s a little sad, the end of their print era, but they’re keeping up with the times. I applaud them for that—even if I’ll miss seeing their massive volumes on the shelves.

Self-Publishing Editors

Category : industry

Despite working in the industry, I’m secretly a rooter for those who self-publish. (I’ve discussed this before.) But I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a lot of crap out there, and a lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing—which is why Kirkus has started to offer editorial services.

The question is, do self-publishers need editors? Absolutely. As that particular article states, there are many occasions that these authors don’t have a grasp of basic grammar and punctuation. And let’s be honest—no one is going to take you seriously if you don’t know the difference between there and their. (I’m worried that people think they can write without such knowledge, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Kirkus’s services are quite pricey, but there are freelance copywriters everywhere with reasonable rates. I highly recommend checking them out. Even if it costs a couple hundred dollars, it’s worth the cash. The competition is fierce for book sellers, and you won’t sell much of anything if your book contains spelling and grammar errors—despite how good the story is.

Book Launch Parties

Category : industry

There are few options for launch parties for those outside the book industry. Heck, even those in the book industry aren’t often invited. But recently a launch party was offered to customers with a $15 ticket price, and the event is totally sold out—and has a waiting list.

Could this work for other authors? I have no doubt. Go to a party, mingle with fellow fans over cocktails, and get a signed book. I would go. Fifteen dollars isn’t that much for an event, and even if the price went to twenty or thirty I’d still consider attending for a favorite author. Book signings are all well and good, but they’re crowded. Sometimes, you’re even lucky to get a book signed, depending on the size of the crowd. But to make it into an actual party, with a limited number of tickets? Why, it’s almost like the book industry is becoming elite again.

I’m not knocking book signings, of course; I love them. But there’s a certain sort of pride in attending an event you had to pay for, and you know only the most dedicated fans will be attending—and not someone who just wants a signature in a book.

I think it’s a great idea. More companies should get on it, and I should be on the mailing list for future events. It gets us bookish folk out of our homes and mingling with others. And we can potentially meet the authors one-on-one. Here’s hoping this catches on.

Halloween, Production Style

Category : industry

This past Friday, we had our annual Halloween party at work. The best part about the party? Costumes.

Being a bunch of nerds, we all get into it. There’s a contest. And we’ve had some fabulous costumes, like dressing up as book characters/cover, imitations of fellow employees, and any number of book-related geekery.

This year, the production crew (that is, my department) decided on the “cover reveal.” A cover reveal is, basically, what it sounds like. For our highly anticipated books (think, for example, Cassandra Clare) we set a date the cover will be revealed and no one can see it before then. Well, aside from the people working on it. Most of the time.

I was, of course, Dork Diaries. It’s basically known as “my” series around the office. And we took “reveal” literally. We walked into the room to burlesque music, holding our jackets closed until the moment we flashed the audience. I tried to look especially dorky in my pigtails and taped glasses. (Truthfully, I didn’t look much different than usual.)

While we didn’t place in the contest this year, it was quite fun. The winners were dressed as CMYK, with each person representing a color. I was lazy in my photographing this year so I don’t have a shot of it. But you can trust they looked fabulous.

Now we have to start planning for next Halloween.

Ikea Redesigns Bookshelves

Category : industry

Time for my semi-occasional rant on the industry, inspired by this article about the change in Ikea’s Billy bookshelves. (Which, if you must know, are all over my home office.) A quote:

Ikea will make changes to its low-cost, high-volume Billy bookshelf this fall. And to some, that means books are dying.

I get it. Bookstores are struggling. Books are going digital. Et cetera. But people are going out of control. Here is another article about it.
The Economist fears these new shelves will be used for “ornamentation.”
Time declares the change the demise of books.
I think you’re all going crazy.

People will find anything these days to “foreshadow the demise of books,” as if everything the world does is against the book industry. So Ikea is changing the size of their bookshelves. My only gripe is that, when the time comes for me to buy a new one, it won’t match the other two. Guess I’ll just put it on a different wall.

Newsflash: It’s still going to be a shelf. It may not be as deep, or as high, but I’m guessing you can still put books on it. Sure, it’s getting harder to find something that’s actually categorized as a “bookshelf.” Or at least one that’s reasonably priced, like Ikea’s. But honestly, if it stands in my room and has a flat surface it’s going to become a bookshelf. This isn’t something worth freaking out over.

Also: Obviously, our featured photo is of my own shelves. I take pride in them.

Books Safe For kids… Finally

Category : industry

About a year into my career, we got slammed with a bizarre requirement—all books had to be safety tested. It was, in short, a pain in the neck. For a while, our printers had to test their inks and paper for lead and other dangerous things, and we had to fill out forms for every reprint that said they’re safe for children (when your entire job is reprints, this gets tedious).

But good news! We don’t have to do this anymore. Books are now exempt from safety testing, after discussing it for nearly three years. There are still some titles that should be tested, like if it has novelty elements (if they make noise or something like that) but overall, I think the industry just breathed a collective sigh of relief.

It was kind of ridiculous, if you ask me. Sure, we were just covering ourselves. We had all the necessary paperwork that said our books were safe for kids, so in case books weren’t exempt we’d still be in the clear. But do you know how many millions of books get printed? I have folders and documents and all sorts of stuff just hanging around in case this came back. Guess I don’t need it anymore.

Thank goodness for that.

New Online Home for Readers

Category : industry

A bunch of publishers* got together and created Bookish, a place for readers to gather and learn about their favorite books, get recommendations, and all kinds of fun, literary stuff.

*That being Hachette, Penguin, and S&S

It’s not open yet, but you can give them your email address and they’ll inform you when business is up and running. You know I’ve already signed up.

Considering my recent vent about the industry and how no one cares about books anymore (sorry for that emo moment), this is exciting news. It’s a little community where readers, publishers, and authors can go on and do what they do best—geek out over books.

I’m not going to argue with that.

And let’s not fail to mention that they also, erm, borrowed the name of my little blog here (in case you haven’t noticed). I wonder if I’m going to have to change that? (But I was so proud of it!)

This new Bookish (not mine) is scheduled to launch this summer. I’m interested to see how it works out. And, well, how it works. I hope it’s not just a “facebook for books.” Us literary folk need something a bit more exciting. I’m also curious to see how/if it differs from goodreads.

But I promised myself I wouldn’t judge yet.