What is Book Expo? Good question! Book Expo, also known as Book Expo America or BEA, is the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. Most, if not all, of the major US book publishers, as well as several overseas publishers, have booths and exhibits at Book Expo. Publishers use the event to showcase upcoming titles, not only the anticipated "big" new releases but also debut novels and other new books that they are particularly excited about. Over the course of a few days, publishers offer Book Expo attendees galleys and advance reader copies of the new and forthcoming books and promote their special favorites. Many authors attend the event as well, hosting autograph sessions either in their publisher's booth or in a special autograph area. Book Expo 2017 took place at the Javits Center in New York City, and I spent a full day there on June 1st.
In the past, publishers hosting exhibits at Book Expo focused their promotional materials on book store owners and other book sellers, but increasingly publishers are paying more attention to librarians, who attend Book Expo in large numbers. This year, there were two special areas for librarians at Book Expo, one hosted by the American Library Association and one hosted by Publishers Weekly. Each provided librarians with a lounge where they could meet other librarians and listen to author talks in a quieter setting. In addition, Book Expo hosted a 75-minute "book buzz" just for librarians. During that session, representatives from Harper Collins, Soho Press, Hachette, Sourcebooks, Workman, WW Norton and Random House gave brief overviews of their favorite upcoming titles. Collectively, they raced through over 60 new and upcoming titles in both fiction and non-fiction. I sat there taking notes as quickly as I could and thinking about which of the books I wanted to read (most of them, actually) and which I would recommend to people I knew.
I spent the majority of my time at Book Expo walking back and forth among the booths to see which books were on offer and standing on line to meet authors and have them sign my newly-acquired galleys. So many signings were going on that it was impossible to get to all of them, but I did manage to get most of the books (and autographs) I wanted.
At one point I walked right in front of Maria Shriver on my way to meet Mark Helprin and have him sign my advanced reader copy of Paris in the Present Tense (I did do a quick pivot to stare at Ms. Shriver for a moment, gawking, before I moved on). Gabrielle Zevin expressed her affection for librarians, and for Connecticut, when she signed my advance reader copy of Young Jane Young. The longest line I waited on was for Amy Tan and her new memoir, Where the Past Begins. It was worth it, though, as she was an absolute delight.
I left Book Expo with 20 books. Among the titles I'm most excited to read are Pamela Paul's My Life with Bob, Claire Messud's The Burning Girl, Ann Hood's Morningstar and Stephen Greenblatt's The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve. But I honestly want to read every book I came home with, along with so many others I heard about over the course of the day.
I feel pretty comfortable in saying that our reading options for the rest of 2017 and into 2018 are very broad, diverse and exciting. There will be lots of thrillers, several coming-of-age tales, some new mysteries, compelling memoirs, histories and biographies, and several new novels by favorite authors. What could be bad?