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BEA: Where have all the galleys gone?

May 29, 2009 |  1:25 pm

Bookbagbea09

The clearest measurement yet of a lighter and tighter Book Expo: A dearth of advance copies of upcoming releases, which was the hallmark of previous conventions.

BEA organizers said at the outset that they intended to make this a leaner operation, both in response to economic conditions and the desire by publishers to, in essence, weed out the riff-raff. Past BEA’s were infamous for people with little affiliation with publishing to buy day passes and stack dozens of galleys into pull carts for months of free reading. BEA responded by rejecting about 1,500 credential applications.

And publishers have cut back on their offerings, as well. HarperCollins, for example, brought in about 25 authors, about half of what they usually do, said Seale Ballenger, vice president and publicity director. That has meant a reduction in the breadth of galley titles, and some are available only as cards with codes that people can use to download a galley. “Not only is it a cost situation, but we’re trying to get more targeted,” Ballenger said a few feet away from where author Neil Gaiman was signing copies of "The Graveyard Book."

The cutbacks haven’t gone unnoticed.

“In years past you could barely get through the aisles” because of the stacks of galleys, Judy Lamb, a buyer for Bo Peep Books in Golden, Colo., said as she loaded books into a box in the shipping area. “Typically I would have four or five boxes. I’ve got half a box.” The loss, she said, is that sense of serendipitous exposure: “It’s always great to stumble onto books you didn’t know about and authors you didn’t know about.”

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: A sadly empty BEA 2009 book bag. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg

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