Opportunities at the LA Times Festival of Books
This year’s LA Times Festival of Books was more vibrant and electric than the last two years’ event. There was more buzz and excitement about books than in the past. There was also more opportunity for book printers and several of them capitalized on the excitement by exhibiting there. Overall, there was more emphasis on helping authors publish than in any of the previous ten festivals.
The crowd appeared to exceed last year’s total of 150,000 for the two-day event. The sunny weather brought out book lovers from throughout Los Angeles. There were also more vendor booths than in years past. An additional section of exhibitors were stationed near the West Entrance to the Festival of Books. Many famous authors, including Jason Alexander, Maria Shriver, Sue Grafton and others, were speaking or signing books.
Of most interest were the book printers and self-publishers. BookSurge was there, fresh off its recent acquisition by Amazon. They offered publishing packages to would-be authors that included printed books as the final product. Their booth was constantly busy. A new company, Cherish Bound, was soliciting consultants to sell biography and autobiography books to would-be authors. Cherish Bound is affiliated with a printer in Utah. They have a template for writing and laying out the books. Their process and procedures separate them from other self-publishing groups represented at the show. Also present was Star Publish, a self-publishing consultancy in the more traditional methods. They offer publishing packages ranging in price from $1,000-$1,800 for up to four free copies of a book and an e-book. The books are sold on their web site or through traditional bookstore channels and a royalty of up to 100% of the net price are paid.
The most exciting opportunity at the show was AbeBooks.com. They offer a non-exclusive, distribution program for publishers to distribute their books through Amazon In the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany. The charge for distribution through AbeBooks is only 8%. The publisher pays the shipping costs themselves. Check out this program for your publishers at abebooks.com.
The show was an opportunity to visit, briefly, with publishers to determine their printing needs. I met with Jeffrey Goldman of Santa Monica press. He has eight new books scheduled for release between April and November 2005 and two books for release in February 2006. Other publishers have books coming out this year that need printing, too. Some publishers I spoke with wanted new catalogues, while others needed marketing materials. Overall, I walked away with three solid printing quotes and several possible ideas.
Participating in consumer book fairs can be interesting, informative and productive. Read my April 16, 2005 posting for more details on how to effectively work a consumer book fair.