Saturday, May 26, 2007

tick tick tick

It's Saturday, May 26. That leaves approximately 115 hours before BEA setup. (Or three workdays to organize, seeing as this is a holiday weekend.)

BEA (or Book Expo America, for those lucky enough to not be involved in this sideshow) is THE annual book industry event (sure, there are other little petty affairs--London (LBF), Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Taipei, etc, etc). Publishing companies, booksellers, printers, agents, rights sellers, packagers, wannabe authors, librarians, and bibliophiles drop tens of millions of collective dollars on impressing each other (and they wonder why publishing profit margins are so slender?) in what becomes a veritable orgy of sleazy networking affairs, advance reader copies of fall buzz books, garishly branded totes and other generally useless freebees, and author signings. Joy.

A word for the wise: if you're planning on attending, take the following precautionary measures:
1) Don't pack your suitcases. Just bring them empty; otherwise you'll have nowhere to put your clothes on the way home.
2) Start some weight training immediately. Focus on biceps, deltoids, and trapeziuses. They're going to be what hurts the most at the end of all this. Also, be forewarned that carrying large and unwieldy piles of books takes a real toll on the elbows. Take it from a former bookstore clerk. But there aren't many preventative measures to take for book elbow, since large carts and similar devices aren't allowed on premises.
3) Just say no when people try to give you books you're not interested in. You'll be overwhelmed with the choices at first, and everyone will smarmily try to convince you that their particular piece of tripe is the future of American literature...but of course we do that. That's our job. The point is, exercise discretion and perfect a sly escape maneuver. Otherwise you'll be really screwed with books you don't want come closing time.
4) Take lots of business cards. Hundreds.
5) Don't be all bushy-tailed about author events. They're supercrowded and generally, in my humble opinion, a waste of time.

So setup is on Thursday. Meanwhile, I'm spending my holiday weekend up to my elbows in...books. My little press is highlighting three fall titles, and two of them are mine. Of course they were acquired/edited before I started, so in the wake of my predecessor it is necessary SOMEone sets aside the XXX number of hours required to read them so SOMEone in the company can actually say how great they are without having it all be PURE bullshit.

I'm looking forward. I'm so much wiser than I was last year. For example, I'm only taking books I really want to read. Just this morning I finally disposed of 24 books I lugged home on the Chinatown bus last year (BEA rotates locations and was in DC last year)(I won't share my thoughts on how silly a rotating location is). These are 24 books even my green eager-to-please self didn't think I would ever be interested in or would ever read. So they've tormented me and have been lugged from residence to residence and now have been left on a street corner. More importantly, they took the places of 24 (or possibly more) books I MIGHT have been interested in.

So yes. You'll see me there. If you're coming. Are you?


jalexissmith said...

I went to Sumo!

Tory said...

No, I won't be there, but good luck with it. Try not to stress too much.

angelle said...

if i had a finished manuscript, i'd totally shell out the extra bucks to go to the writer event the night before. i'd totally love to go to this kinda bs, booknerd i am.

and yes, i'm back. and burned. and with stories.

Ari said...

What do you with business cards, once you are handed them? Do you scan them, file them, or toss them in an archaic rolodex scroller?

More to the point, do you stuff them in your pocket or purse upon receipt or lay them before you, treating the cards with respect?

In China, business cards are viewed as extensions of a person, so they are presented and received with both hands and scrutinized, as if checking out the giver.