All of the big book fairs did not run this year, such as the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt edition. Due to COVID, they all decided to move online and will likely be back. Book Expo America, the largest publishing event in North America also did not run, but it is meeting a gruesome fate, it is being discontinued.
Reed Expo, the organizers of BEA released the following statement ” We hope when you read this email that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. During the past eight months, the impact of COVID-19 has been felt in both our personal lives and the way we do business. It has forced all of us to navigate a new landscape, and sadly forced all of us to say goodbye to many beloved businesses. At the same time, we have seen glimmers of hope and ingenuity, as Bookstores, Retailers, Librarians, and Educators find new and creative ways to serve their communities.
COVID-19 forced us to cancel our in-person BookExpo, BookCon, and UnBound 2020 events. While we missed not seeing old friends and colleagues in person, there was no doubt that this was the correct choice. BookExpo Online brought us together virtually to celebrate our love of books and remind us that there are other, new ways to gather to support the stories and community we hold dear.
As we look toward 2021, we are all wondering what the world will look like. As Event Director, I am tasked with the challenge of how and when to gather the industry together in a manner that is productive, cost effective, and safe. Together with the management team, we have reached the conclusion that planning an in-person event for 2021 is unfortunately not possible based on the current environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo where we were already examining restructuring our events to best meet our community’s needs. The Trade industry has evolved so much in the past decade, and it has long been apparent that BookExpo needs to reflect those changes.
What does that mean for the future? It means we need to pause, review, and rebuild. The BookExpo, BookCon, and UnBound events in their prior iterations will retire and will not take place in 2021. It is our intention that the shows will re-emerge in the future in a format that delivers better value to our customers with a blend of in-person and virtual offerings. These new events will be built upon the tremendous successes and learnings of the past year’s virtual initiatives. We will no longer be limited by geolocation and we will be able to connect this industry through multiple touch points throughout the year.”
BEA primarily focused on the traditional publishing industry, it was in a huge venue and people from all over the world would visit it. Rights on books would be bid on, and ditto for international translations. To a lesser degree it would feature digital startups, companies that you never heard of. They also ran a few days where the event was open to the public, thousands of authors would attend and give autographs and free books.
Good E-Reader used to attend BEA every year for a decade, meeting with new companies and old friends. It got to the point where we made all of the connections in the publishing industry that was possible, so it wasn’t worth it to go anymore.
I think Book Expo needs a new format. The company is soliciting ideas from the public on what the event of the future would look like.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.