Will BEA Escape from LA?

Book Expo America drew around 5,800 “pure book buyers” to the Los Angeles Convention Center on the last weekend in May, which was down 900 from the year before. Some major sf authors attended and signed their books, and the graphic novel venue got good press. But will the party ever be back in LA?

Saturday at the BEA there was a short work-stoppage by the catering union over a dispute with the venue, having the unhappy effect of forcing the BEA staff to serve lunch. Lance Fensterman, Vice President of Reed Exhibitions, commented: “L.A. was a challenge on a few fronts and then as my entire team and I were serving chicken dinners to 1,000 people, it really didn’t leave me with a great taste in my mouth.”

Then the Los Angeles Times ran an article on June 2, quoting an exhibitor:

“BookExpo has been getting less important,” said City Lights’ Katzenberger, explaining that the rise of the Internet and other innovations over the last 15 years or so had begun to eclipse personal meetings and the physical showing of upcoming books, which is a primary purpose of BEA. “Nobody’s really sure what it is now. But people keep coming,” she said.

BEA still has one year on its contract with LA. The BEA site shows they will meet in New York in 2009, Washington, D.C. in 2010, and Las Vegas in 2011. I asked the Convention Center’s media contact via e-mail whether BEA’s return to LA is scheduled or merely expected some year in the future, and the reply did not furnish the information.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the link.]