There are several large shows in the U.S. geared toward booksellers and librarians, including:
• Book Expo American (BEA – geared to booksellers)
• Christian Retail Show (CBA)
• American Library Association Annual Conference (ALA)
• American Library Association Midwinter Conference (ALA)
• Public Libraries Association (PLA – in even-numbered years)
• Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL – in odd-numbered years)
• American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
• Texas Library Association (TLA - the largest of the state shows)
• Other state and regional library shows
The major international book shows, such as the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair, focus largely on international book sales and the sale of foreign and translation rights to books. For the national and international shows, nonfiction books probably have a higher chance of success.
How to Exhibit at Book Shows
The expense of exhibiting in person at the major shows is usually prohibitive for independent publishers, however it may be beneficial to participate in your state library association show, especially if it’s held nearby and you are able to share a booth with one or two other publishers. Be sure to find out if show management permits booth sharing, and don’t be shy about asking if your book would be a good fit for their audience. For example, I have found that there are a lot of children’s and young adult librarians in attendance at the Texas Library Show.
The most economical way to participate in the major shows is through a co-op booth, where books from a number of different small and independent publishers are displayed together. You pay a fee (typically around $50 to $100) and ship your book to the booth sponsor. They take care of shipping the books to the show, displaying them in the booth, staffing the booth, and providing literature to the visitors. These organizations provide co-op display services at a number of national, international and regional shows:
• Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
• Combined Book Exhibit
• Jenkins – Global Book Shows
• Association Book Exhibit In addition to library shows, Association Book Exhibit participates in some other professional association conferences. If you're a nonfiction publisher, check out their list of conferences to see if any match up to your book's topic.
If a book industry tradeshow is being held near where you live, it’s a great learning experience to attend the show. Contact show management to find out if authors or publishers are allowed to attend.
For tips on how to sell more books at book fairs and tradeshows, see these articles:
The 12 Commandments of Selling Books at Book Fairs, Conventions and Festivals by Terry Cordingley
12 Secrets to Selling More Books at Events by Penny S Sansevieri
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