“Hi, I’m MJ Goff a writer from Woman Around Town, winner of five New York Press awards.”
“Hi, I’m MJ Goff from the website, womanaroundtown.com, winner of…”
That was my greeting as I wandered the 2011 Book Expo America held at the Javits Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24 and 25. It seemed that anyone who has anything to do with books—new authors, book sellers, social media experts, publishers, agents—was there. Those who predict the demise of publishing and books have as much credibility as those who predicted the recent Rapture rumor. (Unless perhaps the righteous WERE taken and we just didn’t know it).
If you were in NYC these past few days, on the west side-midtown area, you probably saw hordes of people with rolling luggage during the afternoon rush hour. No, they weren’t just getting out of town early for the Memorial Day weekend, they were probably exiting the book expo with the typical array of books, pens, tee-shirts, book marks, calendars, posters, and who knows what else could be used as a promotional item.
But as for its importance in the literary world, take note that Caroline Kennedy was due to sign copies of her new book, She Walks in Beauty (which was cancelled, due we were sure to family issues); Julianne Moore, Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever; Rosemary Wells, Kingergators: Hands Off, Harry! and Love Waves; Megan McDonald, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer; and other personalities like Jimmy Fallon, Michael Moore, Jeffrey Lyons, Jim Lehrer, and Linda Evans. We heard Jane Lynch was coming with her book, and at the last minute, Ellen DeGeneres sent a video to open the event. John Lithgow (photo at top), was signing his book, Drama. It seems that everyone has a book coming out!
As for the attendees, the BEA is an exercise in endurance for its “on your feet all day – carting 50 pounds of books” workout; hunger management since all the meals in the food areas are way overpriced, (thank you hot dog vendors!); compromise throughout the day when you find you literally want to be in three places at one time but you have to prioritize on your feet, while hungry, and your shoulders weary from 50 pound tote bags. The BEA encompasses three floors, which means elevators to maneuver around, bathroom lines that try your patience (the key, here, is to limit your liquids) and miles of exhibits you want to visit. But don’t get me wrong, it’s the most exhilarating, exciting, fun day, undoubtedly worth all of the above.
The Javits center is divided into sections: the author autographing area (25 authors every half hour sign books and chat with fans); publishers big and small (Scholastic, Simon & Schuster to name a few); self-published authors (with interesting stories to tell); the in-booth autograph area for still more autographs from more well-known authors; an entire social media section; and conference rooms for meetings on the future of books, and other book topics. Whew!
Just some highlights: meeting Linda Evans (above with Kathie Lee Gifford) who was promoting her book, Recipes for Life: My Memories. The same Linda Evans who was in the classic TV show, Big Valley; who reached new audiences by being on another TV classic, Dynasty (she actually had a cat fight with Joan Collins), and was with the new age artist, Yanni, for years; meeting Ellen Wood, author of a Step by Step Anti-Aging Process Using the Law of Attraction. After losing her mother to Alzheimer’s and discovering she had the Alzheimer’s gene, decided she could slow down time by creating an age-reversing body/mind/spirit program. A program that is proving successful for Ellen (and for Linda Evans as well). As Ellen said, “I’m celebrating 75 years on earth, but my 50th birthday,” explaining that she counts her birthdays backwards. Love it!
More highlights include: seeing the tan and youthful Jimmy Fallon; chatting with Dr. Michael Albert-Puleo who spent 37 years on his book, The Anointed Ones, whose belief and research suggests that the blessed oil used by Jesus was actually a psychedelic drug; and meeting with the staff of Be the Light, a business dedicated to inspire all of us to make a difference, do good things for others as often as we can, and smile in the process.
Row upon row of book publishers, PR agents, librarians, book reviewers, and just plain fans are joined for these three days, typically held in a major city every May. I believe the BEA is scheduled to be in NYC for two more years before its agreement with the Javits Center comes up for renewal. And “MJ Goff, writer from the website womanaroundtown.com, winner of five NY Press Awards” will be there.