What I learned at BEA 2009 or … how I stopped worrying and learned to love the paperback

That is to say: how much did we already know?

For those that are unaware of BEA it is Book Expo America. The biggest book-based trade show in the country for the year. There are several regional shows that happen, but BEA is where everyone gets together. Except this year. The first hint of the coming change in the publishing industry (and changes are coming) was the absence of Macmillan Publisher Services (who own Farrar Straus and Giroux among other very prestigious publishing houses) AND Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt.

And then there’s the Internet. Oh Internet, you have changed so much of our lives. Some for bad, and most for good, but you are most definitely shifting attitudes. Book bloggers were in full force the whole weekend. They love books. They love computers. They love the Internet. We do have common ground. In our coming book-apolypse

Then there’s Macmillan’s CEO  half-hearted answer to the threat of Google’s book project and the integration of digital library distribution. (Link here if you’re a paying member of Publisher’s Marketplace) I know why they’re worried: They see what happened to the record companies when they tried to fight user driven desire to stream-line the process of music delivery. But that shows they aren’t with the change. They just want to stop it. Amazon has done one thing: they’ve broken open the discussion of how the book should change.

What I’ve really learned:

The Kindle is the wrong way to go. (not saying all e-book readers) Many have spoken of the ills of Amazon model of book buying (Sherman Alexie being the most recent. Go to this link. His answers are amazing). One thing everyone does know is wrong with Amazon is it’s lack of community (This NY Times link to a Slate article is quite telling). Bezos just wants your money.

That’s the final thing that was reinforced at BEA: we are a community. A massive one that is learning to live with many different pieces. It’s slowly becoming decentered around the old media companies, and dispersed to many different channels that are preparing to the coming modal change in consumption.

We love books. We love talking about books. Since BEA, twitter has been a non-stop discussion about the ebook, the place of bloggers in the process, and how things are not going to stop changing. Oh, and Sherman Alexie’s comments about elitism.

How would you like to see Unabridged Bookstore change? Podcasts? Twitter feed? Free Wi-Fi? Send us your ideas. We are deeply connected to the LakeView/Chicago community. We breathe with the life of the city and the neighborhood around us.


2 thoughts on “What I learned at BEA 2009 or … how I stopped worrying and learned to love the paperback

  1. I read that Neil Gaiman’s publishing company is having some sort of contest for independent bookstores to win an in-store in December. I think it was announced at the BEA. You should try for it!

    Podcasts with book discussions and reviews would be a fantastic, new thing to try.

  2. Oh! We are totally going to try for it. We love Neil Gaiman. Wouldn’t it be great to see him?

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