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A 'smaller, more compact' Book Expo America


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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