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Friday, June 13, 2014

BEA & BookCon - Evolution is Speeding Up

While it seems like we have been in radio silent mode, we have actually been working at a fever pitch to address some substantive yet subtle changes for BEA and BookCon 2015 that we expect will have a significant impact that will better serve the vast majority of those vested in either BEA and/or BookCon - that will benefit exhibitors, attendees and fans.  
  • BEA will run Wednesday May 27th 1:00 - 5:30, Thursday May 28th 9:00-5:30 and Friday May 29th 9:00- 5:00.  BEA as a trade event is more compelling and better attended on business days.  This format provides 21 hours of exhibit time versus what had been 22 hours.    We will face some challenges with the conference program schedule and set up time, but this makes BEA a more compact event without cutting significant time and time does = opportunity.
  • BookCon will run full days (exact hours TBD) on Saturday and Sunday.  The main thing here is the companies that get value out of a consumer event cannot seamlessly interact with the trade at the same time.  There is a tremendous of efficiency by having BookCon follow BEA but they are really separate things.  That will also allow the companies vested in BookCon to staff properly and save on T&E by reducing some personnel. 
  • To those that had complaints about BookCon - with lines, crowding, etc... Those complaints were valid and this split will allow us to mitigate all of those issues.  It is a long list of items that need to be addressed, but every single issue will be fixed in order to make BookCon a safe and pleasant experience.  
  • I understand as I would make the same leap that people from the outside see BookCon as a big money grab.  Based on the additional investment needed for a separate ticketing system, separate website and dedicated app and additional marketing plan, additional costs for security and cleaning, BookCon barely broke even.  BookCon was launched to give books a platform in pop culture.  The expectation is it will be a profitable event going forward, but only if we deliver a great experience for fans and a valuable investment for publishers.
  • Power Readers - We heard your complaints and will look for a way that we can give you the experience you originally enjoyed in supporting BEA.  We recognize BookCon is a very different experience and that was intentional in order to draw consumers that are not thinking of or buying books.  We understand you are different and you have a  value that is incredibly important to the publishing ecosystem.  Please be patient with us and let us continue to sift through the feedback so we can find a way that let's us blend the events for this distinct group without upsetting the balance for BEA's trade activity.

Monday, June 2, 2014

BEA Post Show Numbers/Looking ahead to 2015

There is always a wide interest to report BEA's attendance figures quickly after BEA.   In an attempt to accommodate that, we do work with the 'raw' numbers we get at the conclusion of each day.  You will note if you compare the figures I am about to provide, they are slightly different than what I had reported at the same time last year because the 2013 figures have been updated with final audited figures and that does reflect some changes.  The difference in attendee number was insignificant, only -7 people.  The professional attendee number from 2013 did increase significantly from what was originally shared and was up +785, we expect it will increase again for 2014 in the audit process as we able verify a lot of exhibitor personnel at the conference sessions that are not otherwise captured.  Those numbers will then be added once the audit process is completed, bolstering the final total in few weeks: 
  • Total Verified Professional Attendance for BEA 2014 only: 10,965 = -1%
  • Total Verified Professional Attendance for BEA 2013 only: 11,094 
    • Originally reported 11,101 in 2013
  • Total Industry Professionals 2014 = 19,860 = -3%
  • Total Industry Professionals 2013 = 20,479 
    • Originally reported 9,694 in 2013
BookCon is tied to BEA, but it is indeed its own story.  BookCon was a complete sellout with10,000 tickets sold.  It is must be noted BookCon evolved from Power Readers in 2013 into an event that sold 10,000 tickets in less than 3 months as BookCon was officially launched in mid March.  Think about that for a minute.

We exceeded our most optimistic expectations and created something that the world of books never imagined with the opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist of pop culture and leverage all that BEA always encompassed as THE place to launch new titles, but now to do so with the immediacy and passion that comes with a 'Con' style event.  There were Power Readers that missed the experience they enjoyed last year and it is understandable but the purpose of BookCon is to create a platform books in pop culture and attract people that would not otherwise go to a traditional bookish event.

BEA will remain a vital trade event and BookCon is poised to expand and offer new opportunities for publishers that will ultimately sell more books.  There are things to manage and address with timing, access etc... but is it as simple as it is complicated because BookCon and BEA are highly complimentary and still mutually exclusive.  The large majority of BEA participants can leverage elements of BookCon both efficiently and cost effectively to get a lot more value, but there are also many companies that need the B2B value that BEA delivers and have no interest or need to interact with consumers.  There is also an opportunity for companies to participate in BookCon that have no interest or value to be gained by participating in BEA. 

Looking ahead as organizers, we have work to do.  Nothing is certain at this moment, but most consumers events are multi-day events, not 6 hours.  There are challenges to be met in containing costs for exhibitors with move in and move out time and it is clear that BEA remains vital, but the B2B element is much stronger during the week and not over the weekend.  You will see news and announcements in the coming weeks but we are coming at this from a position of strength knowing we have fully turned a corner with BEA and have an enormous opportunity with a full year of planning for what BookCon can do for the publishing industry. 
 

Friday, May 30, 2014

BEA Day 2 - Highlights from the simply amazing Author Breakfasts


Author appearances at BEA have always been a highlight and this year’s programming is providing more opportunity to meet and hear authors than ever before.  Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel hosted the first two author breakfasts which have included some of the best speeches in recent memory.   Anjelica Huston was introduced by Neil Patrick Harris on Thursday and she poignantly began her talk by reading a Maya Angelou poem which then framed the rest of her speech.  Continuing and enriching the theme, Tavis Smiley delivered an inspiring speech about Ms. Angelou which then weaved perfectly   into a discussion of Martin Luther King.   Lisa Scottoline was next up and she summed up Tavis Smiley’s appearance by exclaiming that this was her worst nightmare, referring to the fact that she had to speak after such an inspiring performance.  Jeff Kinney had the same experience at the Children’s Breakfast.  He was the final speaker and when he took the stage after Mem Fox he commented that having to follow her speech, which had hushed the room to a whisper, was the last thing he wanted to do.   But of course he rose to the challenge.   Carl Hiaasen was the first speaker.  The author breakfasts are what make BEA unique.   Each day they pull in over 1,000  members of the trade, who are also genuine book lovers, and for that moment everyone is completely connected.