Monday, June 01, 2009

BookExpo America 2009: The Big Books of the Show
By Louisa Ermelino -- Publishers Weekly, 5/30/2009

There are so many “big books” being presented at the show this year, so many household name authors in every genre, that it couldn’t be a more exciting time for booksellers and booklovers. With so much uncertainty about the business of publishing and the winds of change in the industry, it’s a good time to focus on what BEA is all about: getting the word out about books. Although many wondered, “What’s going to happen when the tsunami of Dan Brown [The Lost Symbol, Doubleday, Sept.] hits the stores and takes over?,” it’s unlikely even Dan Brown can steal the thunder of the bounty to come.

And, according to Joe Drabyak, of Chester County Books in West Chester, Pa.: “I don’t think anybody’s going to make money on The Lost Symbol. For The Da Vinci Code he was embraced by the independents. We sold 2,800 hardcover copies. We were one of the stores that had him for a signing. It’s going to be like Harry Potter. Everybody’s going to have Dan Brown. I’m very concerned about the price war. Amazon is discounting it 48% and Barnes & Noble’s going to counter.”
Another overheard comment, positive this time, was that because there are so many strong lists from so many publishers, rather than the competition making sales more difficult, it will bring people into the stores.
“There are fabulous novels by William Trevor [Love and Summer, Viking, Sept.], A.S. Byatt [The Children’s Book, Knopf, Oct.] Margaret Atwood [The Year of the Flood, Doubleday/Talese, Sept.] and Dan Chaon [Await Your Reply, Ballantine, Aug.], said Sheryl Cotleur, buying director from Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif. “It’s as if all these authors jumped forward just when the publishing industry needed them. There’s also Paul Auster [Invisible, Holt, Oct.], Nicholson Baker [The Anthologist, Simon & Schuster, Sept.], Jeannette Walls [Half-Broke Horses, Scribner, Oct.] and Barbara Kingsolver [The Lacuna, Harper, Nov.]. For nonfiction, forthcoming are Malcolm Gladwell [What the Dog Saw, Little, Brown, Oct.], Rebecca Solnit (A Paradise Built in Hell, Viking, Aug.] and Diane Ackerman [Dawn Light, Norton, Sept.]. I was going through the catalogues just flipping out—not only who’s publishing but the quality. We couldn’t need it more.”
Dick Hermans, founder of Oblong Books in Milford, N.Y., is another happy bookseller. “Books will sell this holiday season. People realize buying books is the best investment you can make—14 hours for $25.” He added, joining the cacophony, “This fall is incredible. It’s going to be the best year ever.”
Mark Brumberg from the National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass., is “really looking forward to reading the new Nicholson Baker, billed as “a seductive meditation on poetry.”
Highly anticipated from Little Brown/Reagan Arthur in January is the sophomore effort from award-winner Joshua Ferris, The Unnamed, whose protagonist is a man who can’t stop walking. Michael Pietsch couldn’t stop talking about it at the autographing section and while he is the publisher, his enthusiasm went beyond business.
Mary Ann Ryan, the owner of Ryan Books in New York City, has it high on her list. “Joshua Ferris’s first book [Then We Came to the End] was so great, I have high hopes for his second one.” Kelly Estep, a bookseller from Carmichael’s, Louisville, Ky. (and, incidentally, PW’s Bookseller of the Year) agreed: “His last book was so good, I can hardly wait to see what he’s doing next.”
Read the full PW report here.
Click here for coverage of the big children's books of the show.
Click here for more BookExpo America 2009 coverage from PW.

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