A Letter About BookExpo From ReedPop’s Lance Fensterman

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Greetings fellow bookish friends…

My name is Lance Fensterman and I run ReedPOP, the global pop culture arm of Reed Exhibitions that produces our beloved BookExpo and BookCon. I’m also a former indie bookseller, Booksellers Advisory Council member, and even ran BookExpo back in the day. I’ve known many of you for over a decade but I haven’t had the pleasure to meet some of you yet, which is a positive sign of the evergreen nature of our indie book community.

I won’t take much of your time; you’ve got a lot more important (not to mention better crafted) things to read, but I want to take a moment to share some of the ways we’ve been working to refocus BookExpo for 2017 and for years to come (spoiler alert — it has a lot to do with you!).

First, some context I reckon you know better than most…

BookExpo is a reflection of the community we serve; what you see at the show should be what you see in bookselling and publishing. Mass market brick-and-mortar retail continues to suffer; consumers are in charge of what, when, and how they read; authors have more channels to reach consumers; and publishers are working hard to find new ways to get content into their hands. These continue to be tumultuous days for our industry, but in these tumultuous times, the closer you are to the reader, the better you will fare. As booksellers, no one is closer to the reader than you; you’re listening to consumers every day and steering them towards the books they crave. Thus, it’s essential to have you at the center of BookExpo. 

Today’s market realities make trusted content curators and purveyors of culture like you more important than ever before. We’re doubling down on you and your fellow ABA members. We need you and your team at the event making meaningful connections with authors, exhibitors, peers, and publishing staff. These connections will improve your business and underscore the vibrancy of BookExpo and the indie bookselling community.

For a show like BookExpo to be relevant, we need to foster meaningful connections between the key players of our industry. We know that BookExpo can be a huge, noisy cacophony and we are trying to focus that energy and concentrate on you.

Here are a few things we’re working on that we think you’ll like:

  • Offering ABA members $200-a-night rooms at The Row NYC Hotel.
  • Both attendees and content will be more book industry-focused than ever.
  • A serious vetting process for attendees to assure only those most critical to our world are present, making the show less noisy and crowded for you.
  • Making it easy for booksellers and exhibitors to pre-plan meetings to assure they connect through recommendations, matchmaking, and online planning tools.
  • Offering more bookseller networking and education opportunities such as Meet the Editors, the Celebration of Bookselling Lunch, two Publicists Speed Dating events, and sessions like Edelweiss+ for Booksellers and Hiring for Diversity.
  • Hosting more events where authors discuss the most anticipated new titles, including such events as Booksellers Present Indies Introduce, Author Breakfasts, Buzz Panels, a slew of interesting stage talks, and more.

We want BookExpo to become a large-scale yet intimate environment built on the foundation of business interactivity and community enrichment for independent booksellers. And we want BookCon to become a massive pop culture spectacle that directly connects creators and fans and raises the profile of books in media and culture at large. If we can pull this off, you’ll all smile and we’ll have a reinvigorated BookExpo that couples with a breakthrough BookCon to create the end-to-end solution publishers require to successfully launch books to you, consumers, and the media.

To do all this, I need your help. Call Diana Press at (203) 840-5533 or write to her at DPress@ReedExpo.com so she can register you for a complimentary three-day badge. This includes access to the ABA lounge, show floor, special autographing sessions, custom education, and more. Then, please set meetings, make appointments, make plans, and help us make BookExpo the show we all want and need it to be.

Thanks for your time and, as always, feel free to share thoughts and suggestions with me.

Lance Fensterman
Senior Global Vice President, ReedPOP