|Weekly News Digest
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BookExpo to Retire: A Roundup of Coverage
Shelf Awareness broke the news on Dec. 1 that “ReedPop is ‘retiring’ BookExpo, BookCon and Unbound, effective immediately,” quoting ReedPop as saying, “With continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time, the team has concluded that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community's needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events that will reach larger audiences than they ever could before. The ReedPop team is actively engaging in conversations with publishers, booksellers, and other partners, and with their feedback and ideas they will together agree how to best rebuild the events in the future.”
On Dec. 2, Shelf Awareness followed up its story with some analysis:
The move was not a full surprise to most in the industry since, as ReedPop suggested, the show has been under some stress before the pandemic: although it was once the biggest trade book convention in North America and the place where upcoming books and authors were introduced to booksellers, it has declined in size, attendance and importance in the past few decades. In an era of rapid technological and market changes, the show seemed to lose much of its rationale. For many years, it was the American Booksellers Association’s annual convention, when bricks-and-mortar bookstores were a huge part of the book retail market and the show was one of the most effective ways for publishers to reach booksellers. But obviously the Internet has made sales and marketing communication easier year-round, and traditional booksellers are a smaller segment of the market.
Publishers Weekly reports that “ReedPop will continue to host the BookCon Facebook group, and said that readers can find book-related content in upcoming virtual Metaverse events. ReedPop, which holds a number of pop culture events annually, created Metaverse after moving Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) and Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) from their usual spots in the spring to December 2021.”
Publishing Perspectives shares, “As clear as the fading fortunes of BookExpo had been to regular attendees for years, the closure of the event won’t be received in the US industry with much joy. Many still remember its stronger years of Tuesday-through-Sunday programming including pre-trade-show conference days. Like so many of these key events in world publishing, the show also had a way of serving as a kind of check point: the issues of the day, the challenges and successes could be assessed, discussed, evaluated.”
The Digital Reader says the following:
Really, the only reason [BookExpo] was big was that [the] book publishing industry was concentrated in NYC.
But given how the industry has been decentralizing over the past 15 years (thanks to the internet, there’s no reason to pay for expensive real estate or operating costs any more) it was only a matter of time before [BookExpo] lost all relevance.
The death of this trade show was really only a matter of time.
P.S. If it does come back, I would bet that we will see it revived as smaller local trade shows and conferences—you know, events you could go to in the middle of your work day, and not as a business trip.
AP has more reactions, including from “Fiona McRae, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press, [who] said she valued the contacts made at BookExpo and felt sorry for younger people in publishing who might not have the same chance. Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again.”
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