“When you work in a library, you constantly hear that print is dying and then you come here and feel so much energy. Publishing is not dead.”
Barbara Moralis, college librarian
“Writers and readers are two poles apart from each other. And you, ladies and gentlemen, are the electricity that connects us.”
Wally Lamb, speaking to booksellers
Book Bliss: these two lovely words, this lovely phrase, served as a motto for BookExpo America. This massive, three-day event is truly, a Mecca for book lovers of all stripes: authors, publishers, and enthusiastic readers. Armed with my blogger’s ticket, I hopped on a train to Manhattan and high-tailed it across town. It was pushing 90 degrees and baking, but I was too excited to care.
When I finally waltzed into the massive Javits Center, I was in book heaven! Entering the massive main area, there were colorful banners and panels and booths everywhere: Penguin! Random House! Scholastic! Harper Collins! Steph and I rendezvoused. We had lunch and made our way around the maze of books and colorful posters, standing in line for autographed copies of books and just basking in the bookishness of it all.
The mood was upbeat and festive: Publishing is alive and well! Dozens of new independent bookstores have opened and the e-book tide seems to be ebbing. Overall, there’s a feeling among industry insiders that print and digital can co-exist peacefully and that the frantic pace of change is slowing down and stabilizing.
One of the wonderful features of the BEA are the panels and author appearances that fill the three-day event with buzz and electricity. There are plenty of new releases and big banners shouting out the news. Luckily for me, one of my new favorite YA authors and Newbery Winner, Kate DiCamillo, was speaking. She was funny and witty, and altogether a delight: someone who works hard and loves what she does.
Even after penning a series of beloved books, Kate said she still hears that pesky critic in her head we all know so well, the one who says, “Who do you think you are? You don’t know what you’re doing.” She’s found that this annoying critter “doesn’t show up early in the morning,” which is why she likes to write at that time of day. But even then, first drafts never flow all that easily. “I do nothing but rewrite. It never turns out right,” she told her adoring audience. Now this was very heartening to hear! Since Kate is a wonderful writer, the idea that her stories don’t spring from her head fully formed should give us all hope. We, too, can revise our words until they sing and dance off the page. Write on!