Yesterday I was at BookCon/Book Expo America at the Jacob Javits Center (home of the $12.50 hamburger and $4.65 bottle of Snapple).
You hear so much about the “death” of books. “Everything is going electronic,” they say, and I have read research reporting that many novels are now purchased for e-readers, such as the Kindle, iPad, and so on (rather than in hard copy). I’m not really a Kindle person myself, but I think the whole job of the publishing business is to get books to readers in whichever format they prefer. And there’s no denying that the prices of e-books make more books more affordable to more people; and how can that be a bad thing?
But after attending BookCon, I can report that the printed word is alive and well. The Javits Center was filled with more books than the human mind can take in (and there were e-book stations, too; these seemed to be significantly less popular). The attendees were book lovers of all ages, and it was a real treat to see the many teenagers (and younger) who were like kids in a candy store. The place was also packed with people, all of which leads me to believe that there’s still a strong love of the printed book, and that it won’t be going away any time soon.
Some of the book signing lines went on for what seemed like miles. I was curious as to who was generating that sort of interest – and both times, it was Hollywood people who had written books. One was Cary Elwes, who had written a memoir about the film The Princess Bride. The other was Danielle Fishel from a TV series, Boy Meets World. This put me in mind of a marketing idea – maybe publishers should start advertising their other books in the back pages of these celebrity biographies. I for one wouldn’t mind free-riding on the coattails of a movie star.