Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun at the (2012 BEA Book) Expo

The 2012 Book Expo America was wonderful this year. Not because I was handed two wonderful books and not because I got up-close to watch a fascinating interview with Dan Rather. BEA had such a warm vibe. The people were all so nice, attendees and exhibitors. This was the first time the general public was allowed in (on the last day- and by invitation only) and the regulars feared the rabble. As it turned out, or at least as it was reported, there were only a few bad experiences.

I had forgotten to check the morning agenda and was doing a quick survey of the huge Javits Center landscape when I spied Dan Rather being interviewed on a small stage. I immediately settled in the second row of seats in the center and watched. I had forgotten that he’s out of news broadcasting for six years. Already?

The best part was the interviewer’s request for an elevator speech evaluating each president Rather covered over the span of his career. He started with Dwight Eisenhower and went through them all, ending with George W. Bush. The interviewer also pressed him for his impressions of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Naturally, he was promoting his book, Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, released this past May, but that didn’t make him any less forthcoming in his opinions. At one point, discussing the cruelty of the police in Mississippi using fire hoses on the protestors, he had to stop speaking. He sobbed and apologized for losing his composure.
That incredible interview was the start of my BEA experience.
I’ll mention it again: The Javits Center is massive and at times it can become the Bataan Death March, but the result is worth your effort. I was walking past the booth of Fox Chapel Publishing Company, a publisher of craft books and spied a magnificent book on Steampunk. I knew nothing about Steampunk except that it is Victorian Science Fiction, not my cup of tea. But I had to admire the craftsmanship, not only of this fabulous book but the whole Steampunk idea. If you are into polished wood, brass fittings, antique glass and gears, this is your world.

I was so fascinated that the sales rep gave me the book, “The Art of Steampunk,” which showcases the major craft artists working in the Steampunk genre.  Being a computer geek, I especially liked the Steampunked laptops and desktops. I also know if you have an old manual typewriter (I own two) that you can buy an electronic device to capture the keystrokes into a word processing program. It is a strip that is positioned just under the key area. If you like the feel of the old keyboards and can stand the noise you’ve just entered writing heaven.
The Kindle people were great and spent at least a half hour explaining the fine points of uploading an e-book into their system. Just the information on the photos I am using in my book was worth the entire trip to the BEA. It is so much better to discuss questions face-to-face with the experts. I had a technical question about hyperlinks in e-readers. Who better to ask than the founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker? I just walked right up to him and ten minutes later, all my questions were answered. That beats a chat session with an A.I. bot, doesn’t it?

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