Book Expo America!

Last week, the greater book industry erected a sprawling microcosm of itself inside the Javits Center, flung open the doors, and sank into a welter of bibliophilic chaos.

Well, okay, there are some other salient details. But that's the gist.

Book Expo America takes place once a year in Manhattan's massive convention center. Publishers and other book-related companies from all over the globe set up booths and display their titles, showcasing highlights from their upcoming lists. Very important people meet with other very important people to do very important things. Distinguished writers, artists, and publishing professionals take to stages throughout the building and hold forth on topics from the craft of writing to the direction of the book sector's various digital facets. Cookbook authors stage demonstrations. Creators sign advance copies of their books for lines of eager readers stretching across the show floor. Savvy publishers give out tote bags emblazoned with their logos, knowing that attendees need something to carry all those books in. Occasionally, famous animals who have starred in books make appearances. (I hear Grumpy Cat was there to promote his new book, and I missed him. Woe unto me.)I'd liken the experience to nothing so much as stepping physically into the internet. Information swirls around you in staggering quantity and breadth. The show floor represents a pretty delightful sampling of human experience, schools of thought, and areas of expertise and interest. In the space of a few minutes' walk, you'll see Lego sculptures, handsomely-bound shoebox-sized reference tomes, memoirists elaborating on their stories before rapt audiences, volumes of meticulous scholarly research, origami artists teaching attendees how to fold outlandish creatures, giant nature photography, artisanal cupcakes, and people laughing together over children's books about unicorns. Librarians abound; I had the good fortune to chat with several over the course of my day at the conference, and affirm my longstanding assertion that librarians are some of the coolest people in the world.

For the first two days of the conference, admission is open only to members of the publishing industry. On the third day, however, BEA welcomes members of the public, and often schedules some of its most exciting events for their arrival. This year's conference is over, but I encourage anyone who loves books and can make it to NYC to consider attending next year. And if you do plan to be there, drop me a line in the comments! I'm always happy to say hi.

Happy reading!

Image Credits:1st image – Shutterstock.com/Elena Schweitzer; 2nd image – Shutterstock.com/sahua d; 3rd image – Shutterstock.com/Vladimir Melnikov

Jolly Good Time in England

Over the Labor Day weekend I was working, but I enjoyed it. Yes, that's right. I was on my feet for 9 hours each day — but I was in England! Birmingham, to be exact. Sure, it's known more as an industrial city northwest of London, but there are quite a few things to see, do, and eat! This was our second year at the Birmingham Autumn Fair.  Peter Pauper has a UK branch run by White Pebble International, with a warehouse in Chichester, West Sussex. 

To make things easier, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza NEC, which is literally across the lake from where the Autumn Fair is held. Breakfast at the Pendigo Restaurant on the lower level makes things even easier. After that quick walk around the lake, it's off to the show. Aside from our constant Metric vs Imperial measurement issue, things run pretty smoothly during set up. So much so, that we had an extra day to explore the city of Birmingham. I did venture forth my first night and have dinner at a Gordon Ramsey-recommended establishment called Lasan. Absolutely loved it. Great modern Indian food, if you "fancy a curry." I relished every bite. 

We trekked into the Bullring on Saturday to take a peek at a U.K. shopping mall. Holy cow! It was as crowded as the U.S. malls were back in the 80s — for Christmas! That was great to see. Not sure how many people were actually shopping, but the food places were certainly doing business. There were some interesting sights in that mall. Had lunch at the tasty Handmade Burger Co.

The show was a success! And a new journal and bookmark combo was the hit of the show. More about those — later. 

Thanks for the hard work done by all of our UK agents, plus Adam Ash, Susan Fairley, Claire Evison, and Alice Jeffries from White Pebble. See you at Spring Fair in February!

P.S. — If anyone in London is interested in becoming an agent for us, that territory is currently open. 

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Adventures in Atlanta!

Doing the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Show is always a trip. I count my blessings each time that I am able to fly out of our local airport here in Westchester because it’s just a 15-minute ride from home and it’s small so you can, should you happen to awaken late, or take too long getting ready, or misjudge traffic get there just a few minutes before your flight. I’ve literally dropped off friends 15 minutes before their flight was scheduled to take off and they made it. But I don’t recommend pushing your luck.

Our showroom is in the “West Wing” of Building 2, #680A. We share it with House of Marbles. And in Beauty and the Beast fashion, it’s as if no one’s allowed in the West Wing. It’s a maze. We’re frequently pointing people in the right direction. It’s a pleasure to meet our retailers and we’re always happy to show off the new products in our showroom. It’s like shopping a store! If you can't make it to our showroom, you can also find our product in the very happening and fun JustGot2HaveIt showroom, #1721 in Building 2.

I really enjoy seeing Atlanta while I’m there, but with late hours I mostly only get to enjoy the hotel and dinner out. Lately, I’ve been staying at the Twelve Centennial Park Hotel. It’s like having my own apartment, when I’m there. I highly recommend it. You can usually get rates under $200/nite through the show site or another travel site. They had a really adorable dolphin (see photo) outside the entrance to ROOM, their restaurant, this year.

Aside from room service at the hotel, we were able to have dinner out with one of our Sales Rep Principals – Al Hattendorf, who covers the DC, VA, MD, DE area. The bunch of us, Al and Kathy Hattendorf, Alan Romano from House of Marbles, John Hartley and I, enjoyed dinner at Rosebud, a really cool place in the Virginia Highlands. The food was delicious even if half the menu items we wanted were sold out!

See you next time!
The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®
January 9 – 16 2013