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A quick reading on publishing biz

BookExpo America winds up its annual convention after a solid turnout in New York.

June 04, 2007|Hillel Italie | Associated Press

NEW YORK — No releases attained sudden fame at BookExpo America, which ended Sunday, although booksellers and publishers praised such fall titles as Richard Russo's novel, "Bridge of Sighs," and anticipated Alan Greenspan's memoir, "The Age of Turbulence." There was little discussion about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," coming out July 21, but such books seem beyond mere conversation, like trying to "buzz" the moon and the stars.

The aisles were packed at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and the books ever plentiful. New releases topped 290,000 in 2006, according to statisticians R.R. Bowker, which, thanks to revised methodology, added a bountiful 100,000 titles to its previous estimates.

"We put out more than 1,000 new titles a week, and that's still a tiny percentage of how many books are being published," said George Jones, chief executive of the superstore chain Borders Group Inc.

BookExpo reminds you of how the new becomes old, like watching Pete Hamill promote his new book, "The Gift," while a few aisles away, at the "Remainders" section of the convention, a previous Hamill book, "Downtown," was being sold for $3.

Such an incomprehensible number of books and such a limited public attention span would make the average industry turn in rage on itself. But publishing is a civil business, where a "Conscience of a Liberal" pin, promoting a W.W. Norton release, was worn by a Simon & Schuster publicist, or where Grove/Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin would speak up for Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woo," a novel being published by Riverhead.

"The first time I attended BookExpo I was totally stressed out; the number of books overwhelmed me. I wondered how my work would ever be noticed," said author Ridley Pearson, whose new thriller, "Killer Weekend," comes out in July.

"But I've since learned that it isn't really competitive sports. Good books help each other, and support for other writers is a way of supporting ourselves," Pearson said.

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