Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Return to Book Expo America

New York City's Bryant Park is lovely on a summer evening. Back-lit by the warm glow of the New York Public Library, the park's green lawn spreads across the square, empty save for a sprinkler system and a sign or two asking people to keep off the grass. And people do. But they gather at its edges, like spectators at a game that will never be played, talking quietly or simply staring. At what? I can tell you that they are looking at something, but that something is the absence of everything. The lush green grass and the fathomless empty space above it--through which a few bats swoop noiselessly--is a novelty in New York.

I joined them on the sidelines after attending this year's Book Expo America, where people like you, reader, who like to read silently to themselves in cozy spaces, gather together in an uncharacteristically extroverted celebration of that very act. Readers, Booksellers, Writers, Agents, Teachers, Librarians, Publishers--representatives of the literary community of America--all come together for a few days of chaos and connection at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

While I am someone who needs a Bryant Park after a day on the trade floor, I still find the expo incredibly stimulating and motivating. I was heartened by the warm reception my co-workers and I received at each glance down at our name tags that let people know we sold books at Brookline Booksmith: from local presses, to BPL librarians, to loyal customers, my name tag never failed to garner a welcome. The most notable reception had to be from the folks at Lonely Planet and the least notable from the notorious Grumpy Cat who was snoozing when my coworkers and I snuck up behind for a picture, after waiting in line for over an hour.

And following those greetings were inspiring conversations with those who have joined the book world out of a common love of literature--even if that very passion has us heaving a huge, but happy, sigh of relief when we return to our Bryant Parks and cozy corners and curl up for a nice, quiet read.

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