In an interesting partnership, BlogWorld and Book Expo America co-located their East Coast conventions last week, creating a confluence of traditional print and cutting-edge virtual communications. The two three-day conventions at the Jacob Javits Center in New York were noteworthy for their wildly divergent demographics, also for the recognition that there can be a delightful symbiosis at work between these very different worlds.
There wasn't a lot of mixing that I observed, but with a foot in each world, I had the opportunity to experience both, and sense a trend toward a very compelling nexus between traditional publishing and the digital-virtual world of the Internet. Attendees at each convention had reciprocal passes: BEA delegates could attend BlogWorld East. Bloggers and others in the world of "new media" had full access to BEA. I had the good fortune to attend BlogWorld East as Blogcritics Co-Executive Editor, and BEA as an ECW Press Author invited to do a book signing. It provided an interesting perspective.
Traditional publishers with household names like Random House and Harper Collins, alongside smaller independents like ECW Press and Chicago Review Press displayed their latest releases at booths both large and intimate. But alongside the traditional press were other vendors seeking to make the most of digital technology, the current popularity of e-books and social media. Authors, agents, editors, and publishers schmoozed and signed books, made deals, browsed, and networked while trying to spot the occasional celebrity author (I spotted Michael Moore hanging out at the C-Span trailer just outside the exhibit hall, and met novelist Margaret Atwood at the Harlequin Press party). Business casual and comfortable shoes were the dress for success look of the convention.
But down the hall and down the escalator from BEA (which took up three floors) mingled a somewhat younger, and much more casually-attired crowd. Certainly no less powerful, these publishing professionals inhabit the world of blogs and social media. For here was set the much smaller but no less frantically-paced BlogWorld East, the first BlogWorld convention held on the East Coast.