One of the biggest publishing events in the US took place in New York a few days ago—Book Expo America (BEA). This event is part of the American Booksellers Association, which has as its core a membership of 1,664 and growing. This event brings together authors, agents, publishers, booksellers, publishing vendors, librarians, and many others who are connected to the publishing world. It is not a Christian publishing event, but several publishing houses that are Christian take part in this event including B&H. Here are several key takeaways as I reflect on this event:
1. Publishing is alive and well in America. The event was packed and there was a “buzz” of energy and enthusiasm about publishing. According to numbers, the total professional attendance for BEA this year was 10,965.
2. The market and the consumer loves books. Not only was the event packed with those that are part of the industry, the event hosted a day event called BookCon where they opened the doors to consumers for a fee. For $35, people could come to this event and as a result, 10,000 came. I don’t think they were quiet prepared for this major influx of people but they showed up. Why? To see the industry exhibits and get free books? To see some top authors and maybe get an autograph? I think both of these were draws but the loudest statement it made is the consumer still loves books and all that is associated with books. Due to the great success of BookCon this year, BEA has announced that the event will expand to four days next year.
3. Amazon is a major force in the industry and there was a great deal of buzz about Amazon and Hachette’s dispute over eBook prices. The publishing industry overall is not happy with Amazon.
4. The market wants more erotica. For those of us in Christian publishing, it was so disheartening to see the growing market demand for more Fifty Shades of Grey type books. The exhibits alone were hard to see but a reality to grasp. It is good to have our eyes opened to the world as we pray for ways to impact the world with truth and life.
5. The digital revolution is impacting the industry but it has not diminished the force of the publishing systems overall. Retail is feeling the impact of online buying, e-Books have taken a share of the print book market, and yes, Amazon is rattling the industry. But the industry is still moving forward with a resolve to publish.
As the leader of an Evangelical Christian Publishing house, I am confident in the future of publishing not because of what I see in the industry but because I am confident in the church, the gospel, and the fact that people will always need content which addresses the real needs and issues of life. I am also confident that much is changing in our world and it is not a time to be passive about the changes. We have more opportunities to take content to more places and in more forms than ever before. It is an exciting time to build a strong Christian Publishing team for the future.
I would love to hear your insights and observations on the publishing industry.