Friday, June 6, 2014

Hannah Fries: Storey on the Road — A Taste of BookExpo America

Last Wednesday, the Storey office grew eerily quiet, and for the better part of the week, the lunch table felt a little deserted. It’s a familiar spring scene, as a crew from Storey makes the trip to New York City for BookExpo America. Storey Project Editor and blogger Hannah Fries delivers a recap.

It’s a massive ritual few outside of the publishing world ever take part in. Nonetheless, spring has a way of coaxing the more reclusive and bookish segment of the population away from their computers and writing nooks as thousands descend on the Javits Center in New York for the annual BookExpo America, the largest book trade show in the US. Authors, booksellers, bloggers, publishers, librarians, and more make up the throngs that flood the exhibition halls, stand in line for book signings, and hustle for free swag (and booze) of all kinds. As Lelia Nebeker wrote for The Huffington Post, “It's like a combination of Christmas and Woodstock for book lovers.”

Of course Storey was there — and in fine form, with an attention-grabbing display of new and forthcoming books, among them Epic Tomatoes, with its fun cover design featuring the work of Mary Kate McDevitt. Trade and Gift Sales Manager for Storey and Timber Press, Adrienne Franceschi, also enjoyed handing out copies of Cooking with Fire. “It’s always so much fun to put finished books in people’s hands,” she says. “Cooking with Fire is stunning, and everyone who got a copy was super excited to go home and try Paula’s techniques and recipes.”

Storey President Dan Reynolds gets ready for action shortly before the show opens. 

The Storey booth, with a colorful array of covers

As Zan Davies, Director of Marketing and Publicity, noted: “One thing that really stood out to me this year was how dynamic, gorgeous, and interesting the entire Workman booth (and particularly the Storey/Timber space) was, especially in comparison to all the other vendors at the show. We used rustic boards to display books, plants, and flowers to add color and life, and whiskey and panini tastings to highlight our excitement for two new books.”

That’s right, she said whiskey and panini. Who wouldn’t be excited? The whiskey tasting was inspired by Lew Bryson’s book Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits, coming out this fall. Though he couldn’t be there in person, Lew hand-selected four varieties of whiskey for the occasion, and Storey’s booth became an instant hot spot during the tasting, especially since the first 50 tasters got to keep their snazzy Storey tumblers.

Kathryn Juergens, Marketing Manager at Storey’s sister company, Timber Press, ready to serve up whiskey for the Friday tasting

For the panini tasting, multitalented publicists Alee Moncy and Matt LaBombard snapped on their latex gloves to slather up slices of bread with cream cheese and jam and grill them on the spot. These treats were inspired by Priya Krishna’s Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks: Create Extraordinary Dishes from the Ordinary Ingredients in Your College Meal Plan, which, like the panini, is hot off the press.

Storey Publicists Alee Moncy and Matt LaBombard make panini magic.

Earlier that day, when Priya and Matt entered the autographing area for the first signing of the day, Matt felt a twinge of anxiety when it looked as though no one had queued up to have their book signed. Immediate relief arrived in the form of a BEA staffer, who had forgotten to remove the barrier from in front of the table. With barrier gone, a steady procession of people moved in, waiting for a signature on a book that many planned to thrust into the hands of their college-bound children or grandchildren — an antidote for the notoriously dubious cooking skills and diets of busy students.

Storey author Priya Krishna signs copies of Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks

Finally, BEA is just a great place to connect, and reconnect, with old friends and acquaintances, as Publisher Deborah Balmuth found:
“What I enjoy most about BEA is the unexpected drop-in visits with authors and friends I haven’t seen in years. This year, the authors included Patrick Merrell, who wrote our games & puzzles books, and Valerie Peterson, one of the authors of Cookie Craft. But the very best surprise was a reconnection with Barbara Slack, who works in public events for the Fairfield (Connecticut) Public Library. She's the first hire I ever made — in 1983, when I was director of communications for Sargent College at Boston University, Barbara was my editorial assistant! We hadn't seen each other since 1990. It was great to catch up, especially around our mutual love of books and writing. She even hopes to host a couple events with Storey authors at the library!”
Ultimately, that’s what most of those thousands of people at BEA have common: a love of books and writing. And isn’t that a good reason to come out and say hi?

From the Workman Publishing party at BEA. From left to right: Priya Krishna; Maureen Karb, head of Como Sales and New England trade sales rep; Alee Moncy; Adrienne Franceschi

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