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A 'smaller, more compact' Book Expo America

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Oddly, Book Expo America is going to feel more crowded when it fires up Friday, even though attendance is expected to be off by about 14% from the last time it was held here in New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in 2007.

Lance Fensterman, a vice president at show producer Reed Exhibitions, just told early-bird reporters that when it became clear attendance was going to be lower this year because of the economic troubles battering the publishing industry, the organizers “made a concerted choice to pare it down a little more. Perhaps we’re crazy, but I don’t think so. We see BEA as needing to be a highly focused, high-level event. And that probably means a smaller, more compact event.”

So, Fensterman said, they rejected about 1,500 credential requests from “industry professionals,” which he described as the “other” category -- in essence, publishing hangers-on and people who slip in because they have a friend with a bookstore. “Our exhibitors told us this was the group that had the least amount of value to them,” he said. Fensterman has been trying to spin the decline as a distillation process for a couple of weeks now.

But the publishing houses are sending fewer people too. Exhibitor registrations, including the number of credentialed staffers, are down by as much as 15%. Fensterman said, however, that the number of attendees who are members of the American Booksellers Assn. is about even with 2007. Press and media credentials are up by about 20%. And the amount of space BEA takes up will be down 21%.

So, what does all that mean? A leaner, busier show. So get your elbows ready.

-- Scott Martelle

 
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