Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day One Reflections

Before I get into my reflections I must mention that fellow Texan and Dallas Morning News Book Review Editor Michael Merschel is doing an excellent job of covering this year's event on his Texas Pages blog. Amidst several anecdotes from day one of the event, Mike tells a very funny story about trying to navigate his rented Ford Focus to Prince's mansion [and secret book party]. Apparently the fact that one of his three passengers had an invite to the secret party was not enough to get his Focus through the gate. If it makes you feel better Mike, I wasn't in one of those limos that rolled by you into the party.

The LA Convention Center is both a)huge and b)spread out. This year's convention floor is divided between the West (where the action is) and South (home to signings, indie publishers and, sadly, the international rights center) halls. We always get a table in the rights center for meetings during the show and it is normally a great location.

Not this year.

It's not enough that the rights center is miles up the coast from the main convention floor, but it's also completely separated from the actual event itself--off in its own room. Not sure we'll take a table the next time we're back in LA.

Enough grumblings. Here are a few quick hits from day one:

- The best promo button I was handed came from a group of ebook designers and read "*&#^ the Kindle!" Apparently they are not fans. I, however, got my first demonstration of Amazon's new digital reader and I have to say I am impressed. Easy to navigate, compact and very readable. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to make the switch but I'm more open to it than I thought I'd be.

- NetGalley is getting a LOT of buzz this year. Their reps have been filling up seats on panels throughout the week and have heard their name in several of my meetings with top PR directors. It sounds like they are still working out some kinks but it is clear that e-galleys are here to stay. To me, the electronic medium of galley submission is not nearly as important as the dialogue NetGalley plans to create between publicists and reviewers through its service. I'm meeting with them at 11 AM today and am curious to see how we can get in the game.

- There is a reason why Karen Kingsbury is the queen of inspirational fiction (or as she calls it, "Life-Changing Fiction"). She is notorious for creating lines that go for miles atICRS but yesterday's autograph session was proof that her work is crossing over in a major way. Her line was not only the longest in her timeslot but she was the only author standing in front of her autograph table to greet her fans. That's the way to do a signing.

- Primetime BEA shuttles (either 8-9 AM or 4-5 PM)are never a lot of fun. Always full of cranky literati feigning interest in the work of the attendee sitting or standing next to them, they are a necessary but unpleasant part of the experience.
Apparently folks have been spicing it up a bit this year. As I was getting off the bus yesterday I noticed a sign reminding passengers that no gambling is allowed during the trip. Not no smoking or no standing but "NO GAMBLING". Maybe people didn't get the memo that we don't head to Vegas until 2011.

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