Book Expo…an overnight grand dash into grand New York City to sign sign sign for Lanie fans. I sat down at a table in the American Girl booth at 10:30 and barely had time to look up–beyond people’s faces–for a couple of hours until all the Lanie books were gone. Then I signed a few bookmarks for people looking around mournfully and hopefully…only to find that, alas, the books were gone…before wandering up and down the BEA aisles and around and around in a hazy daze.
That morning, Sarah Ferguson had been in the autograph area signing her new Helping Hands books. Yes, BEA is that kind of place. It’s the kind of place where you walk by an enormous manual typewriter the marketing people hoped would draw attention to a book, Monumental: The Reimagined World of Kevin O’Callaghan. It’s the kind of place where the first fans lined up at 8:45 a.m. for a 6 p.m. keynote by Barbra Steisand, who has written a book on design. It’s the kind of place where long lines snaked toward Fergie and Barbra and Neil Sedaka (Waking Up is Hard to Do) and someone with vampire teeth behind her and more vampire teeth on the fans’ bags. It’s the place of Lemony Snicket and Rick Riordan and Have a New You By Friday.
It’s all hip and hype-y and “let me see if I can get a buzz going that will make readers tell other readers about THIS book.”
It’s men in suits. All kinds of suits. And, yes, it’s a place where readers and publishers and marketing people gather and gawk and do their part to make sure the flame of book publishing doesn’t go out even though it flickers a lot these days, especially in the traditional places where stories are written and sold and taught.
I’m glad I was there with Lanie and got to hear a story of monarch butterfly wings in a preserve in California, so many wings beating that a person can stand and listen to the sound. I’m glad in that loud and glitzy place I got to meet some of the teachers and librarians and parents who talk about quiet, precious things like monarchs…and books.