May was an exciting month for anybody in the publishing industry, and Pace University students were on the front lines experiencing the best of the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) and the BEA (BookExpo America). The IBPA was held on the 22nd through the 23rd at the cavernous Javits Center in Manhattan. Terry Nathan, the Executive Director at the IBPA, graciously invited both students and faculty to attend free-of-charge. Speakers at the event included Pace professors and advisory board members, including Michael Healy (Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group), Cevin Breyerman (Associate Publisher at Publisher’s Weekly), and Jennifer Weltz (Vice President of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency).
Also at the Javits Center, the BEA was held from the 24th through the 26th, and as the beating heart of the publishing industry, was abuzz with energy. Many students attended as guests of the program, and still others were working booths for different publishers they either worked for or interned at. The talks were riveting and relevant, and events catered to every interest. I myself attended a Tor author panel where authors like John Scalzi and Vernor Vinge spoke candidly about their work. Celebrities abounded, doing signings or just perusing the booths themselves. Michael Moore, Florence Henderson, and even Kevin Sorbo.
Speaking of Mr. Sorbo, one of our students, Sarah Heinrich, had this to say about her experience at the BEA (from her blog at Realcity):
The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center rises up in front of the Hudson River like a shiny black Oz. Getting there takes just as long as Dorothy’s trip down the yellow brick road, too — unless you happen to live in Hell’s Kitchen, you’ll cross through construction, train tracks and countless scaffolding as you make your way from a West Side train. My first trip to the glass palace was for Book Expo America, North America’s largest confluence of book industry professionals (and freeloading graduate students like my classmates and me). Most of my publishing passion is reserved for magazines, so I entered the Expo with the goal of enjoying myself for a few brief hours rather than networking. While waiting in the lobby to receive my pass, I studied the tan face and highlighted long hair of a man standing next to me who struck me as captivatingly familiar. He glanced at me suspiciously, but I couldn’t look away. I was unable to place him until I found his name — Kevin Sorbo — in a BEA newsletter (turns out he was a featured author) and looked him up. I know him as Frank Atwood from a few episodes of The OC, but apparently he’s recognized in geekier realms (no judgment) as Hercules from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. After staring down Mr. Sorbo, I was rushed into the main hall of Javits where women in pantsuits and men holding promotional materials buzzed like honey bees in a hive.
Promoters hawked book galleys and reusable tote bags from giant cardboard boxes and book reps quietly made deals at tiny café tables. I immediately knew I was out of place. I had no please-hire-me pleas with which to approach anyone, nor did I have any book proposals to shamelessly jam into the bags of passersby. I sought out Realcity’s own Justin Levine, whom I met for the first time there as he waited to receive an autograph from Mindy Kaling. We spoke for a minute, but he was bubbling with anticipation over meeting Mindy. I left him to enjoy the meet-and-greet bliss. Despite all of the excitement around me, I couldn’t help but feel exhausted within a short amount of time. The crowd, the rush, the confusing floor map — the BEA was like New York City itself, except cluttered with books and enclosed in glass. Frankly, freaking out Hercules was the best part of the day.
Sarah will continue to write for Realcity, an “online magazine dedicated to exploring the numerous realities that make up city life,” all summer.