Publishing news and notes: BEA dropouts, etc.

¶ An article in the email newsletter Publishers Lunch rounds up signs of book industry contraction via a lowered number of exhibitors and attendees at this year’s BookExpo America. According to the piece, organizers expect roughly 20 percent fewer exhibitors and about 15 percent fewer attendees. Among those not exhibiting, according to the piece, Tokyopop and “(a) victim of the success of Reed’s comic-cons, DC Comics is staying away, too.”

Limited to a meeting room is MacMillan — the publisher is the home of comics imprints FIrst Second and Hill & Wang and distributes Drawn & Quarterly and Papercutz — although their distribution client Bloomsbury/Walker will hold their spot on the floor. It’s unknown if the graphic novel imprints will be there. (DC could be part of the booth for their distributor, Random House, but RH has cut their space quite a bit, too.) Comic-cons are having an increasing influence on the book business, at least according to Lance Fensterman, who runs BEA, New York Anime Fest, NYCC and the upcoming C2E2:

Inspired in part by the dynamic atmosphere on the floor at the fast-growing comic cons he runs for Reed, Fensterman has been trying to “get exhibitors to think about their presence differently.” Some of the booth space not taken by exhibitors is being given over to high-profile Author Stages, one of which will host Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, and show management has encouraged publishers to create their own more dynamic in-booth events.


Developing. It is certainly a sign of the times that consumer shows like comics conventions have continued to capture the fancy of the public, while trade-only events like BEA and other book shows are languishing. The turnout of authors at BEA is always formidable, but the writers get far less media exposure at the show.

We wouldn’t take this piece as official confirmation that any of the named companies aren’t going to be at BEA, btw, so consider this developing.

¶ On his blog Kazu Kibuishi has some news and sales figures:

According to my latest royalty statement, Amulet 1 has sold 180,000 copies in its first year. While I know we can do better, and I have high hopes for what Amulet 2 will bring to the series, we seem to be off to a great start.

The Copper book and Flight 6 are pretty much wrapped up, which means Amulet 3 is now officially underway. The initial draft of the synopsis is done and I will be moving onto the thumbnails in the next few days. The story is shaping up to be really good, so I’m excited to get cranking on this book!

¶ We haven’t really mentioned the demise of the movie studio Fox Atomic here. The film press covered the shutdown of the boutique widely but didn’t ask about the studio’s comics division — a pact with BOOM! to produce 28 DAYS LATER comics was recently announced — and as readers may recall, over the last few years, we were hired by FA to freelance edit a number of graphic novels for them. As far as we know, the fate of the BOOM! deal has not been decided yet. However, the end of Fox Atomic gets a wider look in this piece in Variety, which points out that aside from Screen Gems at Sony, small, genre studios have been ditched by studios:

One by one, the six majors have divested themselves of the profitable but low-reward divisions that crank out horror, teen and urban fare. Before Atomic’s implosion, Universal Pictures was the most recent studio to get out of the dedicated genre game, selling its Rogue Pictures to Relativity Media in October for $150 million.
[snip]
One longtime player in the genre world explains that the death of the studio’s genre divisions mirrors what’s happening in general in Hollywood. The conglomerate-owned majors are increasingly focusing their efforts on tentpoles and sequels.

“Fox would rather make ‘Wolverine’ than a Fox Atomic film,” the executive says. “They don’t need a $50 million earner. It’s not worth their time.”


See, it all ends up being connected.

Just for the record, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, working with FA’s R. Eric Lieb was always a joy, and we put out some books with a quality level we were very proud of so… no regrets anywhere.

Comments

  1. Hasn’t BEA lost its function over the years? It seems rather anachronistic. When most books were sold by independent booksellers or small chains, BEA served a pretty valuable function of providing them information about the upcoming season. But this seems really outdated. It used to be that lots of orders were written up at BEA, lots of deals were done, etc. Now, it doesn’t seem that way at all.

    My recommendation for BEA is for it to reinvent itself as a public bookfair. Let the public in for a reasonable price. Close off a portion of the floor for purely book industry business, but leave the rest open to people. Use the live event as a way to promote books.

    Booksellers would hate it, though… So I suspect BEA will simply decline into unviability…

  2. BEA’s move to a weekday schedule would allow for a book fair to be held the weekend immediately afterwards. San Diego used to do this… host a small trade show in one hall, then open up the hall and expand for the regular Con. BEA could do this in reverse.

    BEA still generates buzz. Ticketed events are still popular, the rights tables are still booked, and even lowly booksellers such as myself get to network and communicate with publishers. It cost me $90 to attend the whole show. Complimentary copies, signed editions, workshops… they cover the cost of the show, and I discover all sorts of cool stuff.

    180,000 copies?! Of a $22 hardcover graphic novel? Of a graphic novel aimed at CHILDREN? And it’s not a licensed property? Way cool.

    If the major studios won’t make the films, others will.

  3. ““Fox would rather make ‘Wolverine’ than a Fox Atomic film,” the executive says. “They don’t need a $50 million earner. It’s not worth their time.””

    The thing is, it is worth their time. You never know when that 50 million earner will turn out to be your runaway 300 million earner — and when the Big Movie (with everything riding on it) will turn out to a be a critical and box office disaster.

  4. Synsidar says:

    A note to the curious: Typing http://www.foxatomiccomics.com into the browser will get you here.

    SRS

  5. Nate Horn says:

    “The thing is, it is worth their time. You never know when that 50 million earner will turn out to be your runaway 300 million earner…”

    Good point, Rich! More Dragonball Evolution, less Wolverine!

  6. “Amulet” was licensed before #1 hit the shelves.
    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117982400.html?categoryid=13&cs=1

  7. Did Fox Atomic release anything that made more than $50M (US)?

  8. *cough* *cough* The L.A. Times Festival of Books, anyone?
    http://www.latimes.com/extras/festivalofbooks/faqs.html

    13th year running, hundreds of authors attending AND attracting SDCC-like crowds. Maybe it’s time for someone to export a version of this to the East Coast?

  9. Synsidar says:

    Did Fox Atomic release anything that made more than $50M (US)?

    Wikipedia’s entry for 28 WEEKS LATER put the film’s worldwide gross revenue at $64,227,835. A 7/17/07 post on the http://www.quartertothree.com forums put box office revenue at more than $50 million. The Wikipedia entry for Fox Atomic has a list of the unit’s films.

    SRS

  10. There was a version of the LA Times festival… New York is Book Country. However, when it moved from Fifth Avenue to NYU (to gain indoor space), many vendors protested, as the side streets of Washington Square did not compare with that of Fifth Avenue. The New Yorker Festival, held the same weekend, didn’t help either, and NYIBC has not been seen since.

    East Coast? Miami. Blows LA out of the water, from what I’ve heard. Laura Bush sponsored the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, when she was First Lady.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Heidi MacDonald notes that a number of publishers are dropping out of this year’s BookExpo America, including Tokyopop and DC Comics. MacDonald also has a list of comics-industry hires and departures. […]

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