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  • James Yamasaki

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In 2006, Paul Constant went to Book Expo America, held that year in Washington, DC, and found himself feeling "more lonely than I ever have in my whole life." He also ran into Pat Buchanan, standing with "a plastic-surgery victim with a head of blond hair blown into the shape of two giant testicles."

In 2008, Paul went to BEA in Los Angeles, ate a bunch of food at Larry King's house, and then saw Jeff Bezos present the Kindle to the world: "The reception that Bezos gets from the standing-room-only mob is akin to the worship that Larry King earns at his house: awestruck, uncritical, deferential..."

In 2009, Paul went to BEA in New York City and wrote about how funereal it was (and then James Yamasaki drew New York City for us as a book funeral):

Like other unexciting, impersonal, depressing events, BookExpo America began this year with a press conference. The annual convention for publishing-industry insiders has never begun with a press conference before. From an anthropological standpoint, this collusion of two dying industries—publishing and journalism—was fascinating. Several ancient reporters actually doddered around using canes, and representatives from the publishing industry continually enthused about how blown away they were by the fact that the media was paying attention to them...

We're not paying attention to BEA this year—it started yesterday and goes til tomorrow—and so we won't have a full report like we have the last two years, but all you really need to read is Gary Shteyngart's piece from Publisher's Weekly last month imagining BEA in the year 2024:

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I am delighted to report that the 2024 Book Expo America was a smashing success, shattering every record imaginable! Over 40 people attended, an increase of roughly 5% over last year's 38. Once again, the Expo was held at Ruth Cohen's apartment on Riverside Drive (thank you, Ruthie!)... The living room was a zoo, with both major remaining U.S. publishers, Random Penguin House of New York and Bob's Deep Water Salvage & Printed Junk of Wilmington, N.C., squaring off against each other with over eight titles in total. RPH was pretty ruthless in setting up next to Ruthie's ficus, which also has the nice southern exposure...

It's short and so funny, and it includes an 8-year-old named Download who doesn't really understand what books are.