Chicago Book Expo 2000: Press Report #1 OUTCRY Magazine

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Katie Couric of NBC speaking at the Chicago Book Expo Author Breakfast

Book Expo 2000: Press Report #1

The Chicago Book Expo which took place in McCormick Place for the year 2000 was one of the most informative Book Expos ever especially for booksellers, distributors, authors and Rights agents. Many educational programs and workshops started on Wednesday, May 31 and lasted till Sunday, June 4, the last day of the Expo. Booths were opened on Friday till Sunday from 9 am till 6 pm for most days.

There were many marketing seminar reports;  ways to market books for both bookstores, book distributors and for library book buyers. Special Author Breakfasts and Luncheons were scheduled for  heavy-hitter celebrities like Ted Koppel of CBS, Katie Couric of NBC, Julie Andrews Edwards, Jerry Stiller and many other well known faces to promote their books. As much preparation put into Ted Koppel's appearance, it was a great disappointment he did not show up for some strange reasons --- perhaps too busy doing Nightline. Of course, the Internet and e-publishing shared a powerful component of the expo this year as many were very interested in the latest trend of Internet marketing and selling.

There is no way our staff could have covered the entire show and attended all the news conferences. Anyone who attended this year's expo would have experienced the same overwhelming effect of the enormity of so much helpful information to book sellers and buyers. But, we selected those that are important and will highlight the crucial messages inherent in those that we covered.

30 Ways Independent Publishers & Authors can profit from Independent Booksellers

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John Kremer at Book Expo

30 Ways Independent Publishers & Authors can profit from Independent Booksellers was presented by John Kremer of Open Horizons & Book Marketing Update. He truly gave a list of 30 helpful ways for publishers to work with independent booksellers to sell more books. Although some of the hints are very useful, the list of 30 could have been contracted to ten or less. Most of the hints are associated with partnership, networking and co-operative promotion of books. John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books.
Publishers Marketing Association Party at Szechwan Restaurant

P.M.A Dinner Party: The "get together" took place at the Szechwan East Restaurant on East Ohio, half a block from where we stayed. This party started with a group of authors from Publishers Marketing Association years ago and grew to be very large based on the attendance last year at the Los Angeles Book Expo. I was a little disappointed at seeing  about 30 people instead of a hundred or more. It was hinted that the online Listserv ignited some fights leading to fragmentation of the network. During the dinner, I approached Paul J Krupin, a powerful and effective  author and book publicist, to tell the people to bury the hatchet and stop the fighting. The purpose of networking is not to initiate a fight as much as for members to work together in the processes of learning effective ways to promote books.

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The party was nonetheless very wonderful and the food was delicious. There were no speeches this year unlike last year, but towards the end, everyone got the opportunity to introduce themselves to the group. It was a very enjoyable evening and hope the group will get bigger next year.

  Then the Benjamin Franklin Award Dinner took place on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel. It was a blast! Click here for more pictures on PMA activities.

Making the Online Rights Marketplace Work for You: It was presented by to introduce authors and publishers to the processes of entering book information into the Global Rights Directory  free of charge. Charges will be incurred when it is time for activation which means the book is to be submitted to different agents. A charge of $250 per book title is incurred at the time of activation for unlimited submission to agents across the globe. There were many one on one hands-on training for people learning to use the online service to submit titles to agents.

Jeff Bezos of Speaks at the Chicago Book Expo

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Jeff Bezos of Amazon

Jeff Bezos - Retailing on the Internet: Jeff Bezos who was   Time Magazine's man of the year in 1999 and the creator of, the largest online bookstore appeared to a large audience casually dressed wearing a navy blue jacket. He was there not to give speeches as he intended to answer questions from the audience.

He started by saying that his company started with less than 10 employees in July 16, 1995.

  After 30 days although some of his friends thought he was out of his mind, he proved them wrong. The key to his success was customer focus --- letting the customer decide what they want by asking them questions. He indicated that it is important to personalize customer service and be competitive with pricing.

Jeff Bezos stressed that what we are seeing today is very primitive to what is to come in the future. He echoed Bill Gates of Microsoft on the same issue. Jeff said that e-commerce is real, it will improve life and change many things. E-books, he mentioned will be a hit, but not for a couple of years to come because many things needed to be worked out.

He appealed to traditional retailers not to panic because e-commerce will not put them out of business since the physical medium is still a medium people meet, and it will still be important. "Getting together with other humans is a fun thing to do and e-commerce will not end it," said Jeff Bezos. But he stressed that wireless communication is going to be more important in the future.

African American Booksellers Conference: Sherry McGee on the Podium
Bexp9.jpg (31188 bytes) Picture from the Sunday Author Breakfast and the Blackboard Awards

African American Booksellers Conference: This was one of the biggest attractions at the Chicago Book Expo this year!  The welcome speech was given by Clara Villarosa of the Hue-Man Experience Bookstore, Denver Colorado. Clara has worked with Book Expo for so many years and has been considered the "African American godmother" for the booksellers.

The fruit of her labor is shared today by those who never knew the relentless work of Clara Villarosa over the years to bring the work of African American authors to light. I ran into Clara over the years in many news conferences and she has never at any time showed a sign of tiredness or fatigue - - - she was always running here and there to get things done, events managed and activities initiated.  I personally have great admiration for this wonderful lady of great honors! Clara, deserves many compliments.

Exp19.jpg (19288 bytes) From the left is Andrea Davis Pinkney, Executive Editor Disney Publishing Woldwide, Inc and Clara Villarosa at the opening day of the Chicago Book Expo just before Rubin Hurricane Carter's speech.

She told us she had moved to New York and sold the bookstore in Colorado, welcomed everybody to the Expo and gave out an African American guide to the Book Expo.

See what I mean! Since I have known Clara, she has always been doing something!

  The guide included the list of events on site at the McCormick Place and off site that are of interest to African Americans and minorities.

A couple of speeches followed and there was a brief break, then the most powerful presentation of the Book Expo took place. It was the presentation of the book, Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter as portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie Hurricane!

Expo15.jpg (33141 bytes) Never in my life have I seen a man so humbled by a painful experience till I saw Rubin Carter, a boxer that was falsely imprisoned for 22 years for the crime he did not commit and could never have committed. I was emotionally moved and had to search the humanity within myself after listening to his presentation. Carter made us to understand contrary to the general opinion that racism did not send him to prison.

What falsely sent him to prison was hate in disguise of racism because racism was accepted at that time as a vehicle to deliver oppression and hate. He paralleled his experience with what happened during the Jewish Holocaust.

One thing came to my mind after listening to the entire speech. Many people are unaware of how they are being controlled to act in certain ways by those who have calculated and predicted their responses to make them act in certain ways. During the processes of heightened emotions over one issue or another, we not only lose perspective of common sense, we sometimes disable the elements of humanity within, creating a monster. Many times ideological obsession seems to consume people making crucial decisions as justice eludes innocent people. For others, it may be too late as they meet their demise unjustly in the electric chair. Perhaps it is more important to some people to align themselves with some political factions based on confused ideology than to appeal to the inner beauty and human conscience. Many times because of political reasons, we say what we believe people want to hear. We go along with majority even when we know they are wrong.  But is this a representation of the person that is living inside us?

"If what is spilled outside conflicts with the being within, we have not only damaged the innerself, we have perpetuated the greatest fraud of self deception and a crime against society." 'Yinka Vidal, author of Overcoming the Invisible Crime.

Hurricane Carter gave all of us a powerful reason to look within, because, when good people keep quiet, the voices of evil will grow louder.

For complete press report with pictures of Rubin Hurricane Carter's speech, click here

African Americans made a very noticeable presence this year at the Book Expo with many programs, seminars and panel presentations. Many of the programs were directed to booksellers to help improve their businesses and provide them with up-to-date information regarding book selling and book marketing to the African American communities. There was a market research project in progress to find out the pattern of book buying habits by African Americans. Anita Diggs, the Assistant Editor at Warner Books was one of those who initiated the market research because those studies conducted in the past did not include African Americans.

From the left is Linda J. Gill Cater, publisher of Arabesque books, a production of BET Books

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The result obtained so far was shocking. It was stated that African Americans spend $300 millions every year on buying books.

They usually buy books if suggested to them by a friend, they usually do not buy books because they are on the bestseller list.

Another shocking report suggested that digital divide with African Americans is a misconception because study indicates that Blacks spent billions of dollars on computers in the past year. This is with the indication that most middle class Black families have at least one computer and they are connected to the Internet. It is a very important information since African Americans can easily be reached through the Internet just like the majority of the population. The digital divide is therefore based on an economic hindrance, and not a racial issue. If a person is poor regardless to race or color, such a person will not be able to afford a computer let alone connect to the Internet.

Saturday featured African American authors at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago. It was a place to see Black networking at its best. Many authors signed their books which was later followed by a dinner and entertainment.  All authors were asked to come to the stage and introduce themselves and the title of their books. This was the first time I experienced the power of effective Black networking. Later the audience was   entertained by the cowboy dancers. The ladies went nuts at this show!

On Sunday, a panel discussion about Minority in Publishing - Where is Everyone? was sponsored by the Women's National Book Association. The panel discussion included Robert E. Baensch, Associate and Director of the Center for Publishing, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, New York University; Theresa A. Biancheri of the Association of the American University Presses Diversity Committee; Max Rodriguez, Founder of QBR --- The Black Book Review and; Anita Diggs, Assistant Editor at Warner Books and Earl Cox, national Accounts Manager/African American Books Sales Manager at John Wiley & Sons. Max Rodriguez was the one  who indicated that the word minority no longer fit the description of the group because the people in the pool are getting bigger everyday. He stated that it was important for us as people to let our stories tell who we are and what we are as individual representation of diversity within the group.

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From the right is Max Rodriguez, Anita Diggs, Earl Cox at the Minority Publishing panel discussion sponsored by the Women's Book Association on Sunday

Anita Diggs stressed that we need diversity in every level of major publishing because minorities, particularly Blacks are poorly represented in decision making boards in many of the major companies. She pointed out that when one Black is on the board and he tended to vote along the line of the majority he or she would not be representing the minority view point because of the fear of being different with the peers. She reported that 65 percent of books published by the main stream are of no interest to African Americans. The more minorities that are on decision making boards, the better representation for the African Americans and other minority groups. Anita pointed out that minority groups are the fastest growing book buying books in the nation. Minorities put together will have a great economic impact in the future of book marketing and sales. Her conclusion was if publishing companies do not have minorities on their decision making boards to produce books of interest to minority groups, such companies will not be able to tap into the minority market.

ePublishing Today: The mainstreaming of Digital Distribution and Its Hierarchical Impact was a panel presentation moderated by Steve Zeitchik, Editor of PW Daily. The panelist included Steve Stone of Microsoft, Kenzi Sugihara of iUniverses and others. Part of the problem brought to the audience was the question about the process of validating online published materials since everybody has access to the medium. Should people be concerned about differentiating good from bad information and how credible are some published materials. An understanding was established that e-publishing will be very popular and a way of the future, but the market place will determine who will survive based on the credibility of information delivered. The panel emphasized that the consumers are the ones that eventually determine the future of any product presented to people.

 Scientific, Technical, Medical and Professional Booksellers Forum: A Catholic minister started the discussion by telling us how the Vatican has been very interested in the study of science especially astronomy. Evidently, the Vatican has sponsored a lot of studies regarding this area of science. He indicated contrary to popular belief that the church has never been in opposition of science. He claimed that science and religion have worked hand in hand over the years. In writing about the unknown issues of science, it is important to start with what people already know. Once their attention has been seduced, then new ideas can easily be presented to them. The Catholic minister pointed out that science and religion are not at odds because science is the human process of studying God’s creation.

During the presentation, one of the booksellers indicated that online book purchases hit science bookstores very hard. On campus book selling is not as easy because students have limited amount of money and they only buy required books by their instructors, many of the authors and publishers of textbooks therefore try to sell to college professors.

Another issue raised by this panel discussion was the difficulty involved in categorizing some science books which do not fit a particular class of books. Books that are difficult to categorize are consequently difficult books to sell.

The big gatherings started on Thursday June 1 with the opening welcome reception and cocktail party in the grand ballroom with a special guest author, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. The Children’s Book and Author Breakfast on Friday included Philip Pullman, Peter Sis and Julie Andrews Edwards; Saturday Author Breakfast included Terry Tempest Williams, Ted Koppel (no-show) and Jerry Stiller; Sunday Author Breakfast included Sister Wendy Beckett, Michael Ondaatje and Katie Couric. Friday luncheon included Jane Alexander and William F. Buckley, Jr; Saturday luncheon included Marianne Williamson, Eric Utne, Thomas Hartmann, and Sarah Ban Breathnach. Sunday luncheon included Bill Bryson, Thomas Lynch, Anchie Min, Anna Deveare Smith, Silvia Molina and Liz Smith.

At most of these breakfast and luncheon gatherings authors were able to present their books, give a little speech or read some poem verses or lines from their books.

Bexp10.jpg (15184 bytes) During the Sunday breakfast Katie Couric of NBC wanted everybody to know that she was getting along fine with Matt her co-anchor on Today Morning Show contrary to tabloid rumors that they were feuding. She also jokingly warned the audience that she would be promotion her book and some day she would not be seen on the show because she would be on the road. Katie wrote a book and dedicated it to her husband who died of colon cancer.

She promised to donate part of the proceeds for cancer research.

Pictures & Report by V. 'Yinka Vidal

OUTCRY Magazine June Issue: Coverage of the Chicago Book Expo

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Expo Press Report#3

Expo Press Report #4

Books at the Book Expo

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