Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BookExpo Canada

I have very fond memories of BookExpo Canada, the annual publishing tradeshow in Toronto.

In the summer of 1982, I worked at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. It was a summer job -- I'd just graduated from Ryerson with my degree in Radio and Television Arts, and I had a job back at Ryerson starting in September, helping to teach television studio production. And my boss, John Rose, did something extremely kind: he took me with him to BookExpo Canada (known back then as the Canadian Booksellers Association convention). He paid me my day's wages, paid my admission, and showed me around. He knew I wanted to be a writer, and he wanted me to get a feel for how book publishing and distribution worked.

And once I became a writer, I often did signings at BookExpo Canada -- first for BeJo (then the Canadian distributor for Ace Science Fiction), then for HarperCollins (who did The Terminal Experiment), and for the last decade for H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's Canadian distributor (and, in 2002, when I was signing Hominids, I had the longest line-up -- 320 people -- of anyone at the show that year, including the New York Times bestsellers publishers had brought in from the States). BookExpo Canada was always one of the highlights of my year.

But, as has been widely publicized, BookExpo Canada has been in upheaval; publishers just aren't convinced of its value of late, and although I'd been hoping to have an event for Wake there this year, it's just not going to happen. Penguin Canada just announced that its not attending BookExpo Canada. H.B. Fenn, Random House, and Scholastic Canada have pulled out, too. It's the end of an era, and I'm sad.

My last signing at Book Expo Canada, for Rollback in 2007. The line goes right around the bend and off into the distance.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


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