May 30, 2013

Liars from across the nation descend on New York City


The array of different flavors and textures of bullshit can be overwhelming at times.

The biggest convention in the lie industry is taking place again in New York this week. Lie publicists, marketers, editors, peddlers of lies, and of course the tireless liars themselves have arrived in New York to talk about the business of lying.

While much of the American lie industry is already based in New York, the annual Lie Expo America gives friends and competitors both local and from around the country the chance to get together to discuss their latest lies, and to take a moment to assess the present and future of the venerable lie industry as a whole, among whom we count ourselves small and fortunate members.

The exhibition floor is—or was—a good place to get a look at some of the most exciting new fibs from the upcoming season, but of course now very little actual purchase of fabulation happens there. Much of the most important discussions at the expo actually happen off the floor.

In an opening talk on Wednesday morning, for instance, before a room of liemongers Macmillan CEO John Sargent discussed the importance of mendacity for communities. He described his optimism for the industry, even in the face of turmoil in recent years, and expressed his confidence in the continued survival of Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest brick and mortar vendor of blatant mistruths.

Another important focus at this and perhaps every Lie Expo is the continued importance of inaccuracies, falsehoods and hoo-ha aimed at children, both for the health of the lie industry and for children themselves. Many industry insiders see colorful lies meant for small children as a point of stability in the increasing turmoil caused by the rise of digital chain-yanking. While many adults are willing to see their bullshit smeared across a variety of platforms, nostalgia still means that when it comes to their children they are more likely to buy them bullshit they can sit down and hold in their hands together.

The Lie Expo is open to criticism that it can be little more than a self-celebratory echo-chamber, one that distracts while doing nothing more than to burn up already-outsized whopper marketing budgets. And that may be true. Educational panels may be useful to help some fibsellers sling their wares more easily, but for many, it’s simply an excuse to meet friends and bolster faith in a sometimes-beleaguered and certainly ill-rewarded endeavor. But I say if fostering and sustaining  the spread of foul lies means spending time and money on what amounts to a weeklong cocktail party with occasional breaks for speeches, then so be it. What it comes down to, I suppose, is whether a person believes, as I do, in the value of enormous, shameless steaming piles of bullshit, both to individuals and to us as a society.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.