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BEA Recap

Sorry for the sudden drop off in posting last week, but the official opening of BEA came with a flurry of work, and meetings, and hastily made appointments, and free books, and more. Hectic, even if it seemed more sedate than the most recent New York-based BEA. For me, of course, it was a nice, easy flight from Denver to LA, and only one hour adjustment to make — easy-peasy. For my New York colleagues — not so much.
I had a very informative, useful fair, though, and am happy to share some of my impressions.
Clutter – Peter Walsh, the organizational guru from TLC’s Clean Sweep, was on hand signing copies of his new book Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? I grabbed a copy and an autograph, and shared my feeling that the fair was all about picking up more clutter — anathema to his ideals. For my purposes (and to keep to his), I kept my freebies contained in one bag at a time, and only picked up fabric, flat-bottomed totes that could be reused for groceries.
I mostly only picked up YA titles — although I made exceptions for the sequel to The Eight, a new book called The Gargoyle, and a nifty road atlas of the US — but there were loads of great ones to grab. I made a beeline to a galley of John Green’s Paper Towns and lined up for a signed copies of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Most exciting freebie? Neil Gaiman’s new title The Graveyard Book. Neil spoke on Friday morning at a children’s breakfast also featuring Jon Scieska, Eoin Colfer, Sherman Alexie, and Judy “f**king” Blume, to quote Alexie. The writers amusingly shared their fangeek moments with each other, and cursed a blue streak appropriate to the “@$$-crack of dawn.”
Multi-platform was a big theme, and I attended a presentation on Saturday morning on “Maximizing the Multi-Platform Potential in Children’s Publishing”, with speakers from HarperCollins, Scholastic, and B*tween Productions. All emphasized that the book cannot be the only avenue for readers to connect to the story, touching on blogs, websites, contests, networking sites, and more. Diane Naughton, HC’s Marketing VP, mentioned their “Author Assistant” program, which helps new authors build and host websites — which reminded me of the question I’d answered on my blog some time ago. Revised answer — Harper doesn’t own all their author blogs, but they’re happy to do so if an author doesn’t have the time, expertise, or wherewithal to build and host a site of their own. Scholastic’s forthcoming series The 39 Clues looks to be the future of multi-platform publishing, (they call it “multidimensionality”) with an online game component that allows readers to find 29 of the 39 clues themselves — only 10 will be revealed in the series.
Also a theme for the weekend? Four-quadrant appeal. Fellow Denver agent Kristin Nelson mentioned this in her blog last week, after her first meetings with film people, and I heard it myself any number of times. This is the new holy grail of film producers — a cinematic experience that will grab the four major audience demographics: women, men, children, and teens. It’s a difficult mix of romance, story, action, broad humor, and the more elusive “it” factor.
Other than that, BEA is a great time to wander the halls, catch up with colleagues, and make early guesses as to what we’ll be talking about in six months’ time. Oh, and to ogle Alec Baldwin.

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