Friday, May 28, 2010

BEA, Brandeis, Bronx, Brooklyn

In the past 48 hours, I walked every aisle of BookExpo America (the publishing industry’s annual trade show) in Manhattan, sat on a panel of Brandeis University alum children’s authors at my alma mater’s event house in Manhattan, did a school visit in the Bronx, and another in Brooklyn.


I considered taking a photo of myself with every publishing friend I bumped into. I ended up taking only one of me—and not with a person:

(The guitar was signed by many people, including me for some reason, but still.)

Well, I actually took another photo of me. I couldn't resist when I found a piece of marketing whose cleverness came from where I found it:

(Yes, that's in the men's room.)

Every BookExpo attendee registers under a pre-existing category—Librarian, Literary Agent, Bookseller, and so on.

This year, the Author badge included a new and perplexing modification:

Not just "Author" but "Published Author."

In years past, “Author” was explanatory enough. I can’t imagine that confusion could’ve arisen from that.

But in future years, perhaps we’ll see even more specific subcategories: “Unpublished Author,” “Self-Published Author,” “Ghost Writer,” “Unpublished Genius,” “Bad Writer but Published Author,” “Published Once but Haven’t Sold Anything in Years.”


I had the honor of being a part of a panel with two distinguished alumni, Ellen Levine ’60 and Doreen Rappaport ’61.

Eleanor, Quiet No More; written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Gary Kelley

We did it low-maintenance; I doubled as the moderator. After each of us took 10 minutes to share our background and introduce our work, we took questions from the audience. I’m happy to report that close to 60 people RSVPed, and it seemed like at least that many actually showed up. That’s a good turnout for a book event on a lovely early summer eve. Thank you to all who came.


The following morning, I continued with the series of visits I’m making to PS 157 in the Bronx. I do this as a volunteer for the Authors Read Aloud program of Learning Leaders, an education organization. It’s my eighth year.

The program is wonderfully set up. They send a fleet of authors to underfunded schools across the cityeach author to the same class four times a school year. That way, the author and the students develop a rapport—a friendship of sorts. It further vests the kids in reading and it gives us authors a more intimate experience than the typical assembly presentation does.


Then I used my invaluable new iPhone app called Hop Stop to navigate by subway from the Bronx to a junior high school in Brooklyn. Nineteen miles. One and a half hours. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been strong in math, but this does not compute.

But when you arrive at an auditorium full of curious kids, the distance traveled to get there becomes moot.

1 comment:

Richard said...

That addition to the BEA badge makes me squirm uncomfortably. Apparently they're determined to prove the axiom that real life is just like school, where the most important thing is what clique you belong to. Having to wear your status on your chest will make it easier to separate the cool kids, jocks, and cheerleaders from the losers and AV club.

I really hope NYCC isn't planning on introducing the same "feature." I'm tempted to drop Lance Fensterman a note about this!