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.]

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7 thoughts on “Will BEA Escape from LA?

  1. “Addressing the question of whether BEA will be back in LA, Fensterman said BEA is contractually obligated to hold one more event there, but he said if his customers tell him they don’t like LA the show won’t return”

    For the right $$ any contract be be … “fixed”.

  2. 5,800 attendees? How the mighty have fallen. Back when Hilde and I were selling books and attending BEA (it was still called “the ABA event” back then, late 80’s early 90’s), the attendance was closer to 25,000, as I recall.

    I think the first LA venue (’94 or ’95) was the last one we went to. God, that trip was one disaster after another, starting with getting to LA and finding our hotel had no record of our reservations and no rooms left, continuing with finding our credit union had — for unknown reasons — placed a hold on our credit card, having Hilde’s electric wheelchair go stone-cold dead on Memorial Day (it’s possible to find someplace to rent a wheelchair in LA on Memorial Day, but it takes about half the day, and boy was I annoyed that the LA Convention Center had NO wheelchairs on site we might have used temporarily), and ending with the last meal in LA being the one that almost ended me up in hospital with food poisoning, plus assorted smaller problems and crisises throughout the convention.

    That was also the closest I was ever to being in a riot, when the Hyperion booth handed out signed, limited, boxed editions of James Lee Burke’s DIXIE CITY JAM. Alice Massoglia got punched in the face by one of the booksellers trying to claw their way towards the Burke books.

    (Bad, bad planning by the Hyperion people; they’d announced a time in advance, and were handing all the copies out at one time. Essentially, they’d announced they’d be handing out free money. The Viking (IIRC) correctly were much smarter with the “zero edition” of Stephen King’s GERALD’S GAME; they set the books out in small batches, at unannounced intervals, and had no problems.)

  3. The number of “pure book buyers” is, I believe, a figure for a class of members, not the whole attendance. I didn’t see a number for total attendance. But I guess if a particular class has shrunk 15% since the last BEA in LA, that’s still not good.

  4. Probably due to putting the url in brackets caused it to be cloaked, as it were. Here it is again:

    As for the warm body count, the same piece begins:
    “Total registration at BookExpo America was 28,494, up from the 27,143 that attended the show in 2003, the last time BEA was in Los Angeles, but down from the 36,112 registrants in New York in 2007.”

  5. Hi, Mike…Book Expo Canada took place this past weekend, and I don’t know what attendand was like, but it was also down in attendance, and the trade show part of it was also noticeably smaller from 2007 and 2006. I attended the3 trade show the last day (worked the show as a registration clerk the first three days), and found it poorly organized, and few gieaways and contests were seen. There’s lots of Canadian-based books, but sales seem to be down across the board. Book Expo Canada is owned and operated by Reed Expo Canada.

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