Reflecting on a great week in New York where we exhibited at BookExpo America for the first time. For several years we have had our own stands at the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs but this was new territory for us and, I have to confess, I was a little daunted. The BA flight out from Heathrow was fine – those Gordon’s miniatures they serve always help, as do a couple of funny movies! In the cab to the hotel I planned room service and an early night but then found the hotel was under renovation so there was no restaurant and the wifi wouldn’t connect – not a great start but my moaning paid off and I ended up getting free wifi for the week – saving $14.95 a day. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland in my room as everything was ridiculously big – you could have slept on the TV and I almost needed a ladder to climb into the bed.
The next day Peter Newsom, our Sales Director and I set up the stand – there is always a moment of panic involved but we were both pleased with the end result although it was in a very dark part of the hall. More moaning eventually produced some free lights as we had bought a turnkey package and I was assured we’d just need to turn up – everything for the stand was provided. To be fair, the organisers couldn’t have been more helpful or welcoming.
And then the fun began – the atmosphere was totally different to the other shows. There was a tangible excitement and clear hunger to discover new books, publishers and authors. We had a steady stream of bloggers, librarians, booksellers and power readers who were all keen to learn more about us and our range. We talked and talked while handing out hundreds of free reading copies. Visitors carried huge swag bags which they regularly emptied into suitcases stored in the lobby – some may feel this was greedy but from a publisher’s perspective it was a delight to see that hunger for print format books.
Was it worth the time and expense? I think so – we certainly raised the profile of both Accent Press and Xcite Books. I have a stack of cards from bloggers and reviewers and a much better idea about the US book market. It was a big financial investment but potential rights sales should justify it so, in conclusion I’d say we were right to try and take a bite out of the Big Apple and will probably be back for another one next year!