4 June 08 | Chad W. Post

Everyone loves themselves a little BEA party. Outside of New York—and really, maybe even in NY—there’s rarely a chance for so many diverse book people from across the country to get together to mingle and drink and exchange business cards and all that stuff. Hanging out with so many intelligent, well-read people is one of the real perks of being in the book business. (No offense, but there are few industries that can have parties as culturally stimulating—and fun—as book people.)

L.A. is a bitch for the BEA party scene though. Everything’s so far apart and almost no one knows how to get around. In fact, I’ve never heard so many people relying on Garmin GPS systems in my life. Personally, I loved trying to fuck with the system and find some unadvised shortcut that forced the quasi-seductive voice to keep “recalculating” our route. After “recalculating” five times in a handful of minutes, I think our Garmin simply gave up one night . . .

There’s always a great range of late-night BEA events ranging from the Weinstein party at the Chateau Marmont to the Independent Press get-together to the PGW dance extravaganza to the ever-elegant New York Review of Books event. As I mentioned in my first post, we also had a Reading the World party that was very well attended and a great deal of fun. (Both Dan Wickett of Emerging Writers and Dzanc Books, and Bethanne Patrick, PW‘s Book Maven were two of the cool people there who wrote a bit about RTW and/or the party.)

It’s easy to scoff at these events as a waste of time, or as a bunch of people getting drunk, but to be honest, this is where a lot of interesting stuff happens. Where you meet people you wouldn’t ordinarily visit at their stands. Where you hear about cool ideas that might not come up in a more formal setting.

If it wasn’t for these receptions, I never would’ve had a chance to talk with ForeWord magazine, or with Martin Riker of Dalkey Archive Press (now that I have the new catalog, I’ll write more about their books in the near future), or to get into a car with Jim Pascoe, who, at the time, was a complete stranger, but turned out to be a very cool writer and former publisher.

The most interesting development for me was the brief meeting I had with the lovely Jill Owens from Powell’s Books. I hadn’t heard of this, but recently Powell’s launched Indispensable, a subscription club that ships new books from indie presses every six weeks. For instance, the most recent package was 500 copies signed first edition hardcovers of The Outlander by Gil Adamson and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski.

I think the idea of a bookseller initiated subscription program is fantastic. It’s a perfect example of how indie booksellers can sell cool, unique books and something that could probably be replicated. It also got me thinking about the future of indie bookselling a bit, but I’ll save that for a later post.

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