My Romp Through Book Expo

I attended Book ExpoAmericafor the first time last month. It is the largest such expo inAmericaand second only to an event inFrankfortin terms of size and scope. It takes place inManhattanat theJavitzCenter, or the equivalent size of many Coscos put together. Large booksellers like Amazon, and small Indie publishers are represented there. It is largely a trade show for media, librarians, publishers and…authors, which is where I come in.  I realized that it was not intended for the general public when I learned that admission for a day is $199, with better deals if you go for two, or the full three days.


My interest in taking part began with an invitation from Nautilus Books Awards, who had generously acknowledged my book (Topic of Cancer: Riding the Waves of the Big C) with a Silver Nautilus Award in the category of Women’s Issues. For a fee, they offer authors the opportunity to sign books for an hour at this event. (Read, they are given away to interested parties.) I was considering doing this when I learned that the book was also a finalist in the Ben Franklin Awards in the category of Best First Book (non-fiction) and there was an awards ceremony the night before Book Expo began.  At that point my curiosity prevailed and I signed up for both events, which it turns out could be shoehorned in between my older daughter’s graduation from college the Saturday before, and my younger daughter’s graduation from high school the Wednesday (or day after) my time at Book Expo in New York City.


We arrived in front of the Marriott Marquis inTimes Square, where the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Ben Franklin Awards take place. There in front of the hotel was the famed Naked Cowboy, a tall, strapping man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, and a guitar covering his tighty whiteys. Women were posing with him when he wasn’t singing, and this seemed quite a suitable greeting toNew York Cityon a balmy June evening.


The Awards Ceremony itself was enjoyable, particularly as I ended up with a little statue to take home for my gold place finish.


I had signed up for the Authors Breakfast at Book Expo, trying to maximize my one morning there. I had assumed that this was a time for us to network and get to know one another. Well, I suppose it was, but it was actually an event that featured Stephen Colbert as master of ceremonies, and people like Barbara Kingsolver and Juno Diaz as speakers. I first had to check my load of books, which I had brought in my back pack. I realized how easy it would be to find it amongst the sea of roller suitcases which seemed a much more efficient way to carry 30 books.


With my Published Author ID tag slung around my neck, I waited in line with several hundred people who had also jumped at this opportunity. I had worn my bracelet that links with a pair of magnets, and it was continually attracted to my ID tag, so I entertained myself with detaching the two, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity. “I hope there’s coffee there,” I heard someone say. I tried not to look incredulous as I could not fathom an American breakfast that did not feature our National Drink.


The food in fact, was not remarkable, but did contain coffee, and it was certainly a treat to hear these brilliant people who could entertain even at8 am. I raced from there to my signing, which was interesting in itself. People could more than make up their price of admission in picking up books signed by the authors themselves. I had an hour left before needing to leave to return home for my daughter’s Senior Night, and spotted a corner where they were doing professionally taped 3 minute interviews. I managed to fit this in, impressed by the interviewer’s ability to track with each of our very varied book topics with incredible speed, and then took off for the exit.


I decided to visit my book in the New Titles Showcase where I paid for the privilege of having it placed through Nautilus in the more intimate area just as you enter or leave the entire facility. I found Nautilus’ section, but could not find my own book.  No time to go back and tell them, but I e-mailed that afternoon telling them about it. “We know,” the founder of the company told me. “Someone made off with two of our award winning titles and yours was one of them! Not to worry, though,” she added. “We have a duplicate and are getting it out there.”


Well! First I was peeved, wanting the book the get whatever exposure it could at this huge event. And then after awhile I thought about it, and realized that, well, someone thought my book was worth stealing. Hm! Fancy that! We were in the car making our way acrossManhattanwhen I received another in a series of mass texts from Book Expo. They were inviting me to meet Captain Underpants. “Hey, they must mean that guy inTimes Square!” my husband exclaimed.  Well, at last I felt a little more in the know about this. “No,” I replied. “This would be an invitation to meet a children’s book character.”  Too late for that, and I deleted the text, but decided that I appreciated the invitation none the less, and what a fitting way to end my brief foray into this year’s Book ExpoAmericaevent.



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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.