by Ethan Cohen
“Go west, young man.” Well, I did– I went as far west as I could, to the Javits Center at the very western tip of Manhattan. As I entered the mammoth snow globe the sound of insatiably high ceilings echoed against the transiently carpeted floor with the buzz of voices conversing within a suspension of space.
I imagine that I was the youngest person there.
It was the second day of the annual Book Exposition of America. After convening with my colleague Dustin Kirkpatrick, who had gone through the work of getting my badge, I took a walk through the exposition floor, where representatives from all facets of books (no word is more general– even ‘literature’ is way too exclusive) discussed and explained their work in stands, mini-rooms, and sections.
I attended three conferences on Internet outreach and social media.
I conducted a failed conversation with a salesman working for an e-book company that had absolutely no relevance to my goals.
Dustin and I talked with printers and met an eccentric self-published author or two.
This was not a literary convention, I realized, but a business conference. Since the business was art, I had perhaps been expecting something more like an English majors party, but in truth I felt inexperienced and unfit within the startup–corporate spectrum. My contribution is art, not production, not sales, not negotiation, not intelligence, not efficiency. My job was to learn about trends in e-book sales, possible shipping deals, library resources, and the definition of Print on Demand. I was young and way out of this league, but I took good notes at the conferences and by the end of the day I had a few names to follow up on.
I felt relieved to see a severe diversity in race, nationality, and gender.
It was a successful foot-dipping in the water in the sense that I was given the opportunity to observe the workings of the book world, though I imagined that if I had known to make a B-line for such-and-such a printer, if I went in knowing a few more names, or if I had already surpassed the first stage of business education, I may have spent my time more productively in terms of doing my job.
Dustin and I drank beers at a Ninth Avenue bar afterward and he taught me how to play my first game of pool, which I won.
The Intern's reflections on his first Book Expo of America (BEA)
Black Lotus by Lita Lepie
"Possibly one of the most artful colloquial narratives of the past decade."
- E. Cohen
"My only criticism is that it wasn’t long enough..."
"...film noir in a book..."
"Awareness of race, gender and sexual orientation shades [Black Lotus] with great depth..."