Notes from the TX Book Festival

In no particular order.  I was so beat after today’s show that I crashed for four hours, watched the rest of the game from my hotel, and, daylight savings time or no, didn’t go to the bars.  We’re all wondering how things will be tomorrow, but what an amazing finish.

It’s still a good show, but I’ve never been to this festival after a UT loss.

Anyway:

Met a Vintage/Black Lizard author, who mentioned that RH’d just bought up his backlist.  Name of the fellow is missing, ‘cuz… I don’t seem to have his business card in my pile here.  It’s probably in the other pile.  I said I was glad to see them getting back, seriously, into the genre; he replied they never really left.

Talked with Neelan Choksi of Stanza/Lexcycle fame.  He says there are about half a million users of Stanza now, but was a bit more practical than others concerning competition.  May meet up with him again tomorrow.  Based on our brief conversation, I do stipulate the Stanza team has, easily, the technical edge over just about anyone ebook not living in Seattle.

Am still across from Penguin.  Interestingly, the only Penguin editor here is a woman wearing a t-shirt for Hastings Entertainment.  No word if she’s avoiding manuscript submissions by employing a disguise.  Back story, the really big publishers, or at least Penguin/Harper, whom I’ve seen at festivals, don’t actually sell books direct.  Contractual/whatever.  So what the companies do is partner with a big local bookstore, or else just steer customers to Barnes & Noble.   This can be a real pain if you’ve only got a couple minutes to sprint away from your booth and want to give signed copies of things for Christmas.  (The group Sisters-in-Crime is another one that won’t sell direct…)  Sometimes you get lucky.  At the last-ever Midwest Literary Festival, I got Karen Abbott to hang on and sign Sin in the Second City for my dad, about two weeks before her book blew up.   She even waited for me to pass through the line.  One more reason to exhibit at smaller shows…

Speaking of Penguin, the Houston-based editor who had a rumored conflict with Pennyworth is not here.  Nor, again, is Pennyworth.  Chatting with a few folks, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say something has changed in the way returned books are handled.  I even got a request from a company that wanted to handle remainders for Ophelia.  Nice to know, but I didn’t really have the heart to tell them Ophelia doesn’t get returns, save on one secretarial book that’s got the same title as a Harlequin, and the few that come back tend to go out again at places like, well, the Texas Book Festival, or Baltimore, when people ask specifically if there might be something else in the bottom of the box (part of the retro appeal is the under-the-counter aspect).

There are a lot of things happening in Austin now, and the economy seems to still be really strong.  They’re not real-estate dependent.  It was slow the first couple hours, but last night was Halloween, which went late.

On the ebook front, there was one Sony Reader at the show (mine), and two Kindles carried by folks walking by.  Another fellow showed me Mobi on his non-Apple-smartphone.  As I had a booth, my device was shown to more people (“I was one of the original ebook people”–show device–”and they called that a ‘Disruptive Technology…’”), so I guess Sony wins.  But I don’t know that I’m really their best marketing person…

Also, the world’s best-selling author of rodeo clown mysteries was here again, and signed some kind of contract.  I didn’t catch him at the finish for more details… he’s one of many members of the Austin Mystery Writers of America booth next to mine, and only had a couple hours.

About dmoynihan

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