For a proposal I’m working on I’ve been reflecting on some of our failed experiments at PL/PM, and some of the biggest relate to BEA. Trade shows are usually a goldmine for traditional trade media, particularly for harvesting print ads by putting them against canned copy marketed as news. But we’ve always been more interested in creating value than harvesting it, and in providing tools that help people do business better.
So for years we’ve tried to supplement the BEA experience in all kinds of ways. Among them, we built a site with editable web pages for every BEA exhibitor (BEA Marketplace); videotaped key BEA sessions long before anyone else tried (PLTV); commissioned the first full-length reviews of prominent books being debuted at the convention; and created useful BEA web apps, again before this was commonplace. All great ideas in their own ways, and all money-losing projects for us.
Another has soared, taking on a life of its own: We started our Buzz Books samplers a couple of years ago as a way of experiencing and curating breakout/discovery titles ahead of BEA so that people could come to show having actually read parts of the books vying for attention. That project has grown into a year-round enterprise that reaches across trade and consumer audiences, producing value across the chain — exposure for authors and publishers; curation and efficient sampling for booksellers, librarians and reviewers; and “insider access” for passionate readers.
One simple, practical BEA editorial feature has endured for some time: our own version of a master convention schedule. It begins with what we need to figure out our own coverage of the event, combing through a variety of different listings. For the last couple of years, we have shared our PL BEA Schedule as an open, downloadable Google spreadsheet. This year, with particular thanks to Kathy Smith on our staff, we have prepared version 1.0 even earlier than usual, and will continue to update it as BEA gets closer. We hope you find it useful. It’s linked below, and has a short URL for easy sharing: