Book Expo America

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If you have been regularly attending the largest professional publishing event in North America, Book Expo America, you are likely used to the last day of the event opening up to the general public. It is normally at this time that most of the executives and senior staff flee, leaving the interns and hired help to man the booths, giving away free swag. Starting in 2015, the public will no longer be invited to BEA.

Back in 2013, Book Expo America started a program that opened its door for one day to the general public. In 2014, it renamed and restructured Consumer Day as BookCon, making it a publishing-meets-pop culture event aimed at reaching a broad swath of readers. Authors loved this aspect of the event, because it gave them a chance to meet with their most loyal fans and signed many autographs. But while that consumer-friendly day “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says BEA Event Director Steve Rosato, selling 10,000 tickets before organizers had to draw the line, it mixed with the professional days like oil and water.

Staring in 2015 BEA will be held Wednesday, May 27, through Friday, May 29, while BookCon will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31. Many of the top publishers and authors will likely stay the few extra days in New York to meet with the fans and professional companies that exist to market their services to libraries can take the chance to tear down their booths and flee for their lives.

I like the fact that there will be some separation between the best publishing event for professionals and the general public. It remains to be seen if BookCon can launch as a separate event successfully or not. The BookCon site compares their festival with the likes of Celebration X, PAX East and Comic-con. I seriously doubt they will even come remotely close to the cultural impact those other events have.

Verdict: 5 Stars

One of the greatest things about attending an event like BookExpo is having CEOs and publishers literally reach into their bags and hand you books that the rest of the world won’t be seeing for another four or five months. That right there is worth one star, and Andrews’ writing earns the rest of them.

Good e-Reader has argued for some time that all of the innovation happening in digital publishing, self-publishing, and with e-reading in general is coming from the romance authors. They’re some of the hardest-working writers out there, and have some of the most dedicated fans. But what really needs to be stated is that many of these authors pioneered the current freedom of crossover genre writing and have broken the molds on what the publishing industry considers an acceptable character arc or story line.

In book one of the brand-new Hidden Legacy series, Burn For Me, Andrews has combined all of the elements that make romance such a sought-after read, while also taking the plot in the directions she chooses. In a world filled with magic that is ruled by both the good and the evil, the different Houses control nearly everything. Nevada Baylor, who possesses only an ordinary level of magic, is hired to bring down a supremely powerful man who’s gone rogue, and must join forces with Mad Rogan to do so. Their feelings for each other eventually grow as the pair works to stop a bloodbath.

Burn For Me is due out this fall.



Book Expo America Wrapped up last week at the Javits Center in New York City, which is the largest publishing event in North America. Thousands of authors were in attendance, signing autographs and promoting their books. Some were fairly dapper, but others sent shivers down the back of any true fashionista.

Eric Flint (left) and Charles E. Gannon (right), authors of the new novel in the best-selling “1632″ alternate world

Eric Flint (left) and Charles E. Gannon (right), authors of the new novel in the best-selling “1632″ alternate world. You can tell Eric spent lots of time coordinating a pink striped shirt and multicolored jacket.

Jack Heath

Jack Heath talking with Harlem school teacher (right) with Author’s Boutique assistant Carol Clinton (middle). Sunglasses on the head, a bright orange long sleeved shirt, terrible!

Jana DeLeon, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Liliana Hart, and Jasinda Wilder

Jana DeLeon, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Liliana Hart, and Jasinda Wilder. Where to begin with this picture, a jean jacket shirt, bright stripes on someone with no business wearing a bright striped shirt,  Denise wearing a dress inspired from Zubaz.


The  Thimble the Fairy went into Book Expo with the Idea that she did not want to everyone to see her rolling her eyes at autograph requests. So she wore flowers covering her forehead and eyes, a bold move. Her wings look a tad bit dilapidated, quick, someone water her, STAT!


Lena Dunham  received much attention for autographs, but her pseudo satin, japanese inspired dress was a travesty of justice.

hm ward

HM Ward may write compelling books and her sales do quite well, but she is a likely candidate for TLC What Not to Wear. I could see Stacy and Clinton  throwing out her entire wardrobe and cackling maniacally.  Seriously, a black t-shirt, classy.

2012 Book Expo America: Adult Book &  Author Breakfast

On the very  last day of Book Expo America Kirstie Alley who was there to promote The Art of Men. The book actually plays, like much of her post-Cheers career in general, on the art of self-sabotage. Her dress reminds me of fall, with pink leaves raining down and sticking to your feet. This dress is terrible and makes me feel violently ill.

Hilary Davidson & Jen Forbus at BEA

At the Mystery Writers of America booth author Hilary Davidson is posing with book blogger Jen Forbus. Leopard skin dresses fell out of favor last year Jen, and satin on satin, for shame!

Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron Queen looks like she is firmly stuck in the 1980’s with a silver headband, purple shirt and acid wash jeans. In this picture she was firmly channeling Flock of Seagals.


OH GOD where to start! Matching patterned shirts on Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.  I bet they totally planned this, I will dye my hair bright blue, you do it bright red and lets wear the same clothes, TOTALLY! This was a tremendously bad judgement call and likely scared off a number of people hunting for an autograph.

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Verdict: 4 Stars

I first came across the creatives behind Sharky Marky and the Big Race at this year’s BookExpo America event. It’s a great thing when someone walks up, engages you in conversation, and then offers you a copy of a book. That’s exactly how publishing industry events are supposed to work. It happened a number of other times during the event, such as when Pam Jaffe from Avon handed me a new title to review, or Rick Riordan handed me a copy of one of his Percy Jackson titles that he so kindly offered to autograph. But no one else handed me anything quite like Sharky Marky.

The illustrations are engaging enough that a variety of age groups can enjoy the pictures; the same is true of gender, as this book is neither too far leaned towards boys or girls. It has a theme children of many ages and backgrounds can identify with, namely, facing down a difficult situation while others around you seem to be better, faster, or smarter. By sticking to what he knows, Sharky Marky (spoiler alert) ends up winning the race.

The only drawback were a few places where the rhyme scheme felt a little forced, such as the use of the word “dire” to complete the rhyme. That’s getting a little bit beyond the vocabulary level of the intended audience. In a few other places, like the countdown, the grammar intentionally slipped in order to fit the meter, and as an English teacher and a mom I didn’t care for that.

Overall, the book was fun, professionally made, and very high quality. It can easily keep younger readers’ interest, and other than some vocabulary or grammar concerns, it can easily become one of their first and favorite self-selected texts that can be completed on their own.

Two different companies met up with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo with similar goals in mind: help their uses find more time to read and connect with other readers. The platforms, Shebooks and Librify, have very different and unique platforms and processes, but both serve to meet the needs of busy readers. While Shebooks accomplishes this goal through high-quality ebook-shorts written for and by women and are meant to be read in a small time frame, Librify is taking our busy schedules and helping us find time to connect socially around the content.

“We are launching our ebook retail platform and membership service targeting book clubs,” explained Librify co-founder and CEO Joanna Stone Herman in an interview with Good e-REader. “One of the things that excites me about what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to reach a very underserved market of book clubs and women who would like a book club-like experience. I know a lot women for whom book clubs are an important part of their life. People are really trying to find time to read.”

Stone Herman’s timing couldn’t be better. Surveys have shown that most people only read average of six books per year, and only four percent of the population read four or more books per month. Much of this behavior has nothing to do with book pricing or lack of discoverability for new titles–two issues that continue to plague the publishing industry–but have a lot to do with time. Book clubs give people some small measure of accountability, knowing that they need to finish the title to stay on task with the group; book clubs also help readers feel like they’re reading the “right” books and participating in the broader global culture around “in the know” titles.

It’s been said that we’re the Book of the Month club for the 21st century,” explained Stone Herman as she described the actual methods by which people use the membership platform. Book clubs can be actual real-life clubs that gather for periodic meetings but need a source to all purchase the same title, such as through Librify’s recently announced partnership with Target to sell ebooks. However, the service also makes it possible to host virtual book clubs for users who want to chat or meet up online/

“It’s however you want it. It could be the group of women who meet at someone’s house to drink wine and talk about a book, to everyone who went to a certain college and want to form a group online. Target’s picks will allow people to come on together and pick a book.”

Stone Herman spoke about future plans to work out a solid way to actually build virtual book clubs, but currently Librify offers a discussion platform that lets people discuss a book. At the same time, Librify is exploring ways to let the authors jump in and participate in the discussion with a book club’s members, and users have shown great interest in having that connection with the authors whose books they’re reading.

“The full book club experience is about people wanting to read the same book and get together to talk about it, and they want to do that together.”

It’s a widely held belief that kids and e-reading just don’t seem to mesh. Not only have studies shown that kids seem to prefer the experience of  print books, but further studies have demonstrated a decrease in reading comprehension when students consume content on tablets.

Before anyone blames the ebook itself, much of this failure of ebooks can be associated with the availability of other forms of entertainment on a tablet. Even for readers disciplined enough to fulfill their reading time requirement before heading over to play Candy Crush, studies have shown that the time spent engaging with the text is seen as more of a chore than an experience. Readers “flip” through the book without ever reaching an immersion level of engagement.

It’s tempting to think, “Who cares? Give the kid a ‘real’ book.”

Unfortunately, digital reading is quickly becoming a vital skill for the current generation of digital natives. The same students who are showing a decrease in reading comprehension through tablet-based content are the same ones who may reach college and find there are no print textbooks to be had.

Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, and more, sat down with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo event to talk about his newest project, one that very well may be the bridge that readers need to learn to interact with digital content in an engaging, choice-driven way.

“I think the beauty of the app is that it’s fluid and it’s open-ended. It can have as much content as you want it to have. You can add to it, so it can be a framework for the text of the books, as well as original content, and I think it gives the reader a sense of ownership over the story. They’re provided with choices and the character really becomes theirs instead of just being observers of what’s going on. That’s the way it connects with readers, and I hope it’s more immediate and interactive than you might get from a standard reading situation.”

Riordan obviously played a significant role in not just the content of the app itself, but in the design and the intention of the features themselves. This is a crucial departure for an author who’s used to thinking of simply crafting a story, but instead had to imagine the ways that readers would want to interact with the app.

“It really is interesting to me to think in kind of the second person, which is not my normal mode of creating, but I always have to think of what the reader is thinking and what choices they might enjoy. What was exciting to me was that there’s more of an intimacy between the writer and the reader when I’m writing something for the app as opposed to the novel.”

Unlike stand-alone apps that first began to appear with widespread tablet penetration, this app is meant to be more of an overall reader experience, as opposed to simply being a deeper look at one particular book or series. Users will make selections and decisions in different scenarios that will help shape the app for them.

“It’s a work in progress, and we don’t know. We’re sort of pushing the frontier here, and I’m not sure what we’ll find or what direction it will go in. But at the same time, that’s the great thing about it, we can push it in any direction that seems to make sense. As the readers interact with the app, the app changes. It’s not set in stone.”

Now that school is out for most of the country, there’s a honeymoon period of sorts in which many kids don’t have to get up early and can watch as much TV as humanly possible. But somewhere along the way, parents look at their kids–whose bodies seem to have actually fused to the couch–and want them to spend a little time engaged in something else.

Summer reading programs offer incentives to readers, like the ones offered each year by Scholastic and Barnes and Noble. These programs offer live and virtual participation, as well as encourage print and digital reading for a wide variety of age groups and reading levels. Local libraries are often involved in either one of those two events, or in staging their own similar programs.

At this year’s BookExpo event, two companies were featuring their children’s ebook subscription services. FarFaria and Stories Alive both offer a platform for tablet-based content with engaging and purposeful bones features. In both cases, the enhancements to the text are not simply “bells and whistles” for the sake of piling on the technology. Both platforms offer read-aloud narration at different lower levels, along with text highlighting to bring the focus to the words. The stories also include the ability to download the content, including audio, for offline reading.

“We have a new interface called Stories Alive. We have 170 books, and we add one a week,” explained Umesh Shukla of Auryn. “This keeps the same notion of how to get the kids into the story, plus extras to make them keep reading.”

The functionality of the titles include little details for readers, such as the small calendar on the kitchen wall within the book Crazy Hair Day changes each time the reader opens it to reflect that real day and date; a blank page within the story is designed for the reader to draw a picture, and when they turn the page, their drawings are on the bulletin board at the back of the classroom. These easter eggs within each story are all designed with the purposeful intention of helping the reader engage with the content.

Incorporated games and features also give the kids reasons to keep turning the pages, but a built-in functionality prevents kids from simply flipping through the pages to get to the fun add-ons by requiring them to interact for a certain amount of time on each page before it changes.One of the exciting new functions of children’s app books from companies like these is the ability that lets parents purchase a title for a family tablet, while still establishing multiple readers of the book. That means different members of the household can find these features or unlock games without “spoiling” the rest of the book.

BookExpo America is the largest North American publishing event and it has grown to encompass nearly every aspect of the book industry. From dedicated book blogger events and author book signings to digital business conferences and platform launches, if it involves books in any way, it happens at BookExpo.

This year, Good e-Reader came across a number of platforms whose functions involve helping self-published authors with various aspects of their works. Some of these companies specialize in social sharing and book discovery, while others actually help authors incorporate enhanced features into their ebooks.

Booklikes is an international platform that basically functions like a dedicated Goodreads but with the added functionality of focusing on those book blogs. With more than 40,000 members who currently run active book blogs and a readership that correlates to that amount of traffic, this site is a great resource for authors looking to put their books in front of readers who will actively share that news from their blogs.

While crowdfunding/preorder site Pubslush has already made a name for itself in the backing community for being dedicated solely to book projects, the company was on hand exhibiting in the Startup Challenge alley to get the word out about the platform. Unlike typical crowdfunding sites that take projects of any nature, Pubslush not only is bookcentric, but also awards all funds raised to the project minus the operating expenses, unlike major platforms that require the proposal to reach the full amount of the fundraising goal or risk losing all of the funding.

Another exciting book crowdfunding site works somewhat differently than Pubslush, and that’s Pentian. Focusing on their US expansion after a highly successful international launch, the company lets authors crowdfund for the money needed to use Pentian’s in-house self-publishing team. While authors must publish through Pentian to use the crowdfunding feature, this platform has a lot to offer in terms of future book discovery; the financial backers who support a book’s campaign become a part of the royalty payments for the first three years of the book’s publication, meaning those people will presumably encourage book sales in order to benefit from the royalties.

As for the creation of the ebooks themselves, two exciting companies at the event were Booktrack and Beneath the Ink. Booktrack allows authors and readers to create musical scores that serve almost like a movie soundtrack within the book, playing ambient music while keeping up with the reader’s speed. Already studies have shown a greater enjoyment level with books that feature this musical engagement, as well as significantly improved reading comprehension scores from students who read with this feature enabled. Beneath the Ink gives authors the ability to add enhancements within their ebooks with nearly point-and-click functionality, meaning you don’t have to be a computer programmer to add images, text, videos, definitions, and more to a self-published ebook. This feature is especially helpful for books with lengthy casts of characters or odd names, such as those that are found in sci-fi or fantasy titles.

A number of other companies also exhibited their tech features that support ebooks, especially from indie authors. A full run-down of the companies is available from the BookExpo America website.


BookExpo 2014 In Pictures

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DSC_0001Author Rick Riordan and Hachette’s Vanessa Vazquez met up with the team from Disney Digital Publishing while the author was discussing an exciting new project coming up that will coincide with Riordan’s bestselling Percy Jackson series.

DSC_0003FastPencil‘s Steve Wilson displaying their IDPF Innovation Award for their streamlined ebook creation and distribution software.

DSC_0015Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker spoke to groups of authors at the BEA Author Hub about the options open to writers in the climate of digital publishing.

DSC_0023Ten bestselling indie authors joined forces for their own booth at the event, a few of whom are pictured here. (L to R: Jana DeLeon, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Liliana Hart, and Jasinda Wilder)

DSC_0009Goodreads‘ Patrick Brown spoke in the author hub about the benefits of strong social media for book discovery, including tools like author giveaways through the site.

DSC_0024In honor of the poet’s 195th birthday, Walt Whitman made an appearance and signed illuminated copies of his poem, “Song of Myself.”

DSC_0007Readers waited in long lines for the opportunity to meet their favorite authors for book signings.

DSC_0020The Alliance of Independent Authors’ Orna Ross presents Mark Coker with the organization’s first distinguished award for service to the indie author community.

DSC_0072Educational ebook platform Qlovi, backed by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was presented with the second place award in the Startup Challenge. Sourcebooks sponsored the award, and it was presented by CEO Dominique Raccah.

DSC_0075Ingram sponsored the first place award, which was presented by Librify’s CEO Joanna Stone Herman to book data tracker company Next Big Book’s Alex White.

With so many demands on time and rigid scheduling, it can be difficult to find time for reading. As studies have shown, the average US consumer reads less than six books per year. But one company has worked to make accessibility to convenient reading more widespread, thanks to ebooks.

Shebooks is a short-form ebook service that offers stand-alone sales and subscription reading of their select titles. Their books are in the range of about fifty pages, covering non-fiction, long-form journalism, essay, literary fiction, and much more; serialization is also a concept that’s in the works. With a target audience of busy women who have to read in sprints as their schedules allow, Shebooks meets a need for content that can be enjoyed within a shorter time frame.

“We’re a new digital publishing company dreamed up by a journalist and a magazine editor who got tired of watching the space for quality women’s writing in publications shrink and shrink and shrink. We decided to do something about it. We’ve pulled together an amazing team of experienced talent and started publishing great short e-books by women, for women. You can buy any book individually or get a Shebooks subscription to our growing library of titles.”

As if launching the company wasn’t enough of a task, the leadership at Shebooks has launched a crowdfunded campaign to further works by women writers. Through a Kickstarter campaign to fund its Equal Writes initiative, the company plans to launch an ambitious program that will allow it to release two new titles a week. The campaign, which kicked off on May 27th, is already more than halfway to its goal of $50,000.

For more information on the campaign or to lend support, visit HERE.

Even as self-publishing experiences a greater degree than ever before of respect and acceptance within the publishing industry, there are a number of doors that are still closed to these worthy authors and their works. Many major news outlets refuse to review self-published books, even by authors who were traditionally published in the past or who have achieved a measure of “celebrity” status for one reason or another. Bookstores are the perennial walled-off community, many of whom will not stock indie titles without having a personal connection to the author and certain compensatory safeguards in place.

But one other chief area who still bars entry to self-published titles are major book awards, which has prompted a number of prominent entities to establish national excellence awards to offer recognition to these works and their creators. The Indie Excellence Awards, established in 2007 to honor not only the writers and their works but also contributors like cover designers, layout artists, and more, presented its 2014 list of winners in conjunction with this year’s BookExpo America event.

According to a release on this year’s competition, “Founder Ellen Reid, President & CEO of the National Indie Excellence Awards, announced the 2014 winners and finalists in categories that saw the greatest competition yet in an initiative that celebrates the best of books in print – which includes, covers, interior layouts, titles. in self-published or indie published books. The winners and finalists represent a diverse group of first-time authors and seasoned authors, major self-publishing groups as well as first-time publishing efforts.”

“This year the expert team of publishing insiders who serve as judges of the NIEA, were challenged because of the quality of entries. I would have to say this was the fiercest competition we’ve seen. It’s a new day in publishing in 2014,” said Reid.

IndieReader, the essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who write them, created the IRDAs to give indie authors access to people who can make a difference in their book’s success. With the rush by traditional publishers to sign them and their noteworthy bestselling status, there’s no longer much doubt that indie authors can be both commercially and creatively successful. All that was left to do was create a credible vehicle by which to find them. That’s where the IRDAs come in. And while writing a great book is the first step, getting it in front of the right people—be they readers or agents or traditional publishers—is also a critical part of making an indie book a success. To that end, judges on the IRDA panel included publishers, PR professionals, top reviewers and more. Top winners will have their titles submitted to agents Dystal & Goderich for representation consideration. Judging was based on the quality of writing and the originality of the story.

There is a first, second and third place winner in each of the fiction and non-fiction categories , in addition to 29 titles in 32 sub-categories, indicating that each book has received at least a 4-5 star review (out of 5 stars).

Bestselling hybrid author and recent Authors Guild board member CJ Lyons was on hand to present the awards with IndieReader’s president Amy Edelman. The complete list of winners in each category can be found HERE.

IndieReader has become known as a source of discovery for great reads by independently published authors, a designation which includes both self-published and small press works. IR features a number of initiatives to help authors promote their works, including its review site, it’s Alike But Indie comparison listing, and its initiative to put great indie titles in bookstores through strategic industry agreements.

Technology and art are blending in two exciting new contests, hosted by Booktrack with sponsorship from Wattpad, Writer’s Digest, and Indaba Music. Booktrack, a music overlay platform that engages readers by allowing creators to add ambiance-style music of their choosing over the text so that music plays as they read, is holding two contests around Hugh Howey’s work, Half Way Home.

The first is a contest for fan fiction writers, who will craft their own original take on the structure, characters, setting, or more, before adding their own immersive soundtrack to accompany the work. Sponsored by Wattpad and Writer’s Digest, the winner will receive $5,000 and editorial feedback on the submission by Hugh Howey.

The second concurrent contest is a soundtrack competition which invites participants to use the Booktrack Studio platform to build their own soundtracks to accompany one chapter of Howey’s work. The winner of that competition will win $5,000 and the chance to create the full sound track to accompany Howey’s novel The Hurricane.

In order to get a feel for the competition, all users are invited to enjoy part one of Howey’s work Sand for free to experience an immersive music-based reading opportunity. For details on both competitions and to enter, visit

Booktrack has already encouraged a strong user base, particularly in classrooms where teachers can craft their own isolated bookshelves for their students to use; moreover, their students can also create their own soundtracks to accompany their writings, leading to cross-curricular teaching units which combine English, music, history, and other subjects. Studies have already shown that reading comprehension and engagement with the text increased dramatically when students were allowed to use Booktrack, and opportunities for special education students are already in place.