June 4, 2013

Won’t someone think of the BEA orphans?


We should all be wearing these badges all the time, frankly.

With Book Expo America over for another year, booksellers from across the nation have headed back to sweep accumulated tumbleweed out of their stores, publishers have returned to their jewel-encrusted office towers and opulent vacation homes, and agents have crawled back to their foul slush burrows.

They’ve packed up the scowling animatronic cat, they’ve furled the banners for whichever terrible terrible books require banners. Seventy thousand tiny uneaten cupcakes are being dumped into the ocean off of the New Jersey coast as you read this. BEA is over, and it’s back to how-is-this-even-a-business as usual in the book industry.

But some poor souls, whether from habit, desperation or shell shock, are having a harder time returning to the normal routine of life. It’s a tough transition for anyone to make. Ejected suddenly from the glamour of teamster-unfurled industrial carpeting and lanyards by the mile out into the harsh world of pavement and sunshine and people confident that they will never ever need something from you—is it any wonder that not everyone can adapt as quickly? Every year a few of our best and most synergistic get left behind. We spoke to a few of these, the BEA orphans.

Cameron Ackroyd: “It’s the eyes, man. I just … Okay, like, in Javits, you look at the nametags. You’re staring at people’s bellybuttons. And you glance up, maybe but out here it’s just staring, staring! It’s all eyes all the time. I don’t know it just feels too intimate? Like, I don’t even know whether you’re a fellow yellow-striper, and you want to look into my face like that?

Ami Greko: “What am I supposed to do with all of this time? I woke up yesterday and nobody had printed out an itinerary of needless panels for me, let alone larded that itinerary with enormously expensive but unlabeled ads. And then—and this might be the hardest to bear—I went out last night and there was not a single glowstick in the place. What have we come to, I ask you? It’s just not civilized.”

Paul Bogaards: “Nobody knows me out here … *weeps softly*”

Caroline Casey: “Well yeah, I do live in Minnesota, but I’m here for BEA of course! Aren’t we all? … I know, it’s weird how hard they make it to get into the convention center. Making us sneak in through a loading dock when nobody’s looking has to be bad for attendance, right? And those security guys chasing me around are … No. No! YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH. It’s over when I say it’s over. Now, keep an eye out while I tell you about our Spring list.”

Guy still in the Wiley “For Dummies” series mascot costume for some reason: “…”

Erin Shea: “I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sick of BEA. I got in line to see Julianne Moore and it was a pretty long line but, you know, I’m pretty determined and I have my laser fingers to keep me company, but I’ve been back and forth to Staten Island fifty-seven times now and all I ate today was fifteen bags of roasted nuts and I’m beginning to think maybe it’s not worth it? Where’s the line for the cat?

Julie Wernersbach: “What? Yeah, of course I know BEA is over. It ended on Saturday, right? No, I’ve just been taking a few trips since then getting these galleys to the airport. It’d be faster if these cabbies would let me tie things to the roof. I have a cargo plane lined up for tomorrow night and I should be just about done by then. Thank god I didn’t take too many, it would have been a pain trying to get them back to Texas.”

Remember, if you or your loved one is having a hard time coping after BEA please get in touch. We here at Melville House can help. We have more than enough skepticism about the whole thing to go around.


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