Sunday, June 15, 2008

BEC: the report from Toronto

We're spending our fourth and last night here in Toronto hanging around the hotel and getting things squared away, as we're having thunderstorms that seem to be following us from Charleston. Today was the opening day of the trade show at BookExpo Canada, and this was the first time I'd ever attended. Some impressions follow.

Among all of the people I met today, I remember only one other American, an editor at a NY-based publishing house. Although I certainly felt welcome (and many people commented that they were pleasantly surprised I traveled "all the way up" here), it did feel slightly like being in disguise in plain sight! I overheard many subtle (and not so subtle) acknowledgments that US book market was much larger than it is here, which is very true, but also in the sense that as a result, new American books get lost in a sea of voices.

In terms of the exhibit space and number of booths/exhibitors, BEC felt about a tenth as large as BEA. A Canadian friend had told me that I could likely go through all of the exhibits in an afternoon, and he was right. I also didn't bring nearly as many ARCs back with me as I normally do at BEA. Four large cartons of books were shipped home from NYC last year; at BEC this year, I brought five ARCs, total, back to the hotel with me. I could have attended more signings, but I generally look for historical fiction or other books I'm likely to read or send for review (or add to the library's collection).

Another big difference between the shows: BEC doesn't have conferences/panels running concurrently with the trade show, aside from a few on-floor events. I attended a librarian workshop early this morning, one organized by a fellow Libraries Unlimited author (Sharron Smith, co-author of Canadian Fiction), which was interesting and informative. I just wish there had been many more of these types of sessions.

However, the books that I did pick up here look great, and I'm looking forward to reading them. I also picked up many publishers' catalogs - Canadian, British, and American - which list many interesting-looking historical novels forthcoming this fall. I'll have to post about them at a later time.

Here's what I'm bringing home. We have an international selection above, in terms of both the publishing houses and the subject matter. From left to right:

Emilio Calderón's The Creator's Map (Penguin Press, July): a historical novel/espionage thriller set in 1937, during the thick of the Spanish Civil War. Another recent translation from the Spanish. (American edition, also available in Canada.)

Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea (Allison & Busby/Georgetown, available now): a modern-day historical novelist travels to Scotland to research her new book and becomes embroiled in the story of an early 18th century ancestor. I waited a good thirty minutes in line for a signed copy of this book, standing on a concrete floor - for which my back has yet to forgive me - so feel in a sense like I earned it! (Available in Canada and the UK; no US edition.)

Ann Granger's A Mortal Curiosity (McArthur & Co / Headline, available now): the second in the Lizzie Martin historical mystery series set along the south coast of England in 1864.

C. C. Humphreys' Vlad, the Last Confession (McArthur & Co, Sept, also Orion UK, Feb 2009): novel of the historical Dracula, as told by two men and a woman who knew him better than anyone. I say with a bit of glee that I got the last ARC of Last Confession, as the publisher ran out of copies to hand out. Anyone who attended the HNS conference in Albany (where we also ran out of his books) will remember that his signings are very popular. I got the chance to chat with Chris after his signing ended, and he has a nice new blog which you should check out if you're curious at all about his novels or the publishing process in general.

Last but not least, Ami Silber's Early Bright (Toby, October, to be published in the US, UK, and Canada): literary novel about a Jewish man, living in exile in LA in the forties, who spends his nights in the all-black underground jazz scene.

Think I'll end here for now... another post about book-related purchases forthcoming later. Tomorrow is Niagara Falls, followed by a stay at my parents' house in CT over the next week.


  1. Susanna Kearsley12:42 PM

    Thank you so much for mentioning my book, 'The Winter Sea'. I'm sorry you had to stand in line so long to get a copy...hope your back has recovered! I'm sorry, too, I didn't realize who you were - I often read your blog and would have liked to have told you how much I enjoy it. 'The Winter Sea' is my favourite of my books so far - I hope you find it worth all the trouble you went through to get it.

  2. Are you putting The Winter Sea out for review? Pretty, pretty please?

  3. Hi, Susanna! Thanks for stopping by, and yes, my back is better now. It's nice to hear you read the blog. I'm sure you don't recall, with the huge line of signers, but I was the one (maybe one of many?) who expressed sorrow your latest book wasn't out in the States; I've enjoyed all of the previous ones. Definitely looking forward to The Winter Sea!

    Teresa - sorry but this one is all mine :) I'm not sending out any of those five, and am guessing the UK team is handling the review (will check).

  4. Grrrrrr. It would've been fun to review as I've loved SK's other books.

    I'm still confused as to why it's not be pubbed in the US?

  5. 'The Winter Sea' sounds like a wonderful story. I will look for it in my local bookstore or buy it on Amazon.

    Thanks for sharing some great information.

  6. Ami Silber8:58 PM

    Thanks for the book shout out, Sarah! Hope you enjoy Early Bright.

  7. Thanks, Inspire!

    And thanks, Ami, I'm looking forward to it - I've enjoyed reading your first two novels (and understand that Early Bright is a move in a different direction!).

  8. Ami Silber8:19 PM

    It certainly is a move in a different direction, but you might be interested to know that I have a series of romances coming out from Kensington in 2010. These will be paranormal historical adventures, and I'm really excited about them. (By the way, the books are paranormal but there are no vampires involved!)

  9. That's great news, thanks for sharing! I love historical paranormals, but vampire romances aren't my cup of tea/blood/whatever.

  10. Susanna Kearsley7:06 PM

    Sarah, actually I think I do remember you now. And to both you and Tess, I'm sorry the book isn't being published in the States yet, but the simple answer is that it hasn't yet appealed to an American publisher - I don't think my stories are sexy enough for your market down there! And Sarah, since you mentioned checking with your UK team about reviews, you might want to warn them that my UK publisher (Allison & Busby) will be bringing 'The Winter Sea' out in mass market there in September, but under a different title: 'Sophia's Secret'. Just so no one thinks I'm writing faster than I really am!

  11. Thanks, that's helpful to know!I'll indeed let my UK counterpart know about the title change.