It is the last day of Book Expo and I am already nearly finished with one of the galleys I picked up on Monday. “Brain on Fire” is the story of New York Post Reporter Susan Cahalan’s slow descent into madness as a mysterious and undiagnosed illness attacked her brain. It is a mesmerizing tale – be sure to check it out when it is launched in November, 2012. This year’s show featured tons of galleys and lots of programming choices, some of which you can see, even if you didn’t attend the show. This year’s Book Expo featured live streaming of many big events. Programs filmed and streamed live included the Book and Author Breakfast, moderated by Stephen Colbert; the Children’s Book and Author Breakfast which featured Walter Dean Myers, Chris Colfer (Glee), John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson; and the Book and Author Breakfast featuring Kirstie Alley, Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and J.R. Moehringer. In addition, many of the Buzz Panels (editors and others dishing about new books) also are available via streaming as are appearances from the author stage in the exhibits hall. Visit www.bookexpoamerica.com for more information and instructions on how to access the streams.
A hugely popular event this year was the Neil Young interview (with Patti Smith interviewing). The day after both had released new albums, the two artists seemed very at ease as they discussed the creative process and their shared early musical histories. Regarding his method of song-writing, Young said that he often procrastinates about it and feels like his worst songs come when he forces himself to write something. Young mentioned that he was reading Smith’s “Just Kids” and how much he liked it which Smith clearly appreciated, laughing and enjoying the praise. The conversation ranged from trains (a passion of Young’s – a part-owner of Lionel Train, to inspiration for various songs, and to Young’s upcoming book, “Waging Heavy Peace” due out in the fall.
Other programming of note included a review of how people are reading in “Paper, Tablet, E-Reader: or Other: How People Really Read or Don’t” which looked at the results of Simba Information’s studies of the subject. The presenter, Michael Norris, revealed some tidbits from the study, though you have to purchase the report to see more. First, regarding e-reading devices, The research reveals that there is still ‘no ipod of e-readers,’ no one device that is clearly the best, most coveted by consumers, though the Amazon Kindle is the number one preferred device. Norris reasoned that as you don’t actually ‘need’ a computer interface to read, print will likely be with the industry forever. His research also shows that a whole lot of people are updating their devices, but not necessarily that new people are coming into the market. He stated that how we see the future of reading depends on whose lens we are looking through. His look at growth in the ebook market showed that the number of buyers didn’t really move a whole lot, and that gains in digital book buying are not making up for losses in print. This seems to point to a decline or stagnation in reading, nationwide. Other points he made during his presentation:
The e-book market is expanding, but the gap between ‘users’ and ‘buyers’ grew more than expected in 2011.
Some of the usual book consumption habits still remain. The report finds that about four times as many adults bought a paperback book compared to an e-book.
One in 10 Kindle owners have updated their Kindles in the past three months.
53% of iPad owners—up from 40% in last year’s report—do not use e-books at all.
Yesterday’s events also included a children’s book cover art auction. The Children’s Art Auction and Reception featured original artwork from children’s books – everything from sketches and studies to finished paintings and limited edition prints. Proceeds benefited the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.
Next year’s event will take place in New York City, Tuesday, June 4 – Thursday, June 6.