Even as Reed Exhibitions was announcing a new comic show for Chicago, they were also announcing that Book Expo Canada, Canada’s biggest book show of the year, has been canceled after a slew of big exhibitors, including Random House, pulled out:
Reed will also not move forward with plans to start a new consumer-oriented event in the fall in Toronto. While BEC was faced with a growing number of publishers who said they were not planning to attend BEC this year, as recently as a few weeks ago Reed had still hoped to put on BEC and launch the Toronto event. Greg Topalian, senior v-p for Reed Exhibitions, said, however, that it has become clear that there is not enough interest in the Canadian publishing industry to make either event a successful stand-alone operation. Reed was willing to run a smaller traditional business-to-business fair and complement that with a consumer show, but, “at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough signups for either,” Topalian said. “We’ve worked for a number of years to find ways to change the show or to have it evolve, but when you get to the point where your customers say you aren’t valuable any more it’s time to move on.” He said that while he would never rule out trying to do some book-related events in Canada in future years, “as of today, there will be no events in 2009.” With the closure of BEC, Reed, parent company of PW, said it will now concentrate its energies on having BookExpo America serve the needs of the North America publishing and bookselling community.
However, a replacement is being sought:
Less than 24 hours after Reed Exhibitions announced that it was closing BookExpo Canada and not starting a new consumer event, different parties in Canada began to explore the possibility of establishing a less expensive annual gathering that could meet the needs of the industry’s different constituencies. Susan Dayus, executive director of the Canadian Booksellers Association, said she was disappointed by the decision, adding that the association still believes “there is a need for a national gathering of booksellers, publishers, authors and others connected to the book industry.” She said the CBA is looking at the possibility of launching a new event this year. She noted that the association had always held its annual general meeting in conjunction with a convention and said the CBA will immediately begin exploring the feasibility of putting some sort of show together, but was uncertain what form it would take.
Meanwhile, Newsarama collected some thoughts on Reed’s other moves — moving New York Comic-Con to an early October date, and starting a show in downtown Chicago — from industry observers:
“I think adding a con is a total to-be-determined,” replied McLauchlin. “It’s also a risky move, especially given the economic climate. We are living in a day and age where the U.S. economy can lose 60,000 jobs in a day. Parallel to job losses, many potential exhibitors have commensurately lowered marketing budgets. It’s happening everywhere. Take a look at sponsors flooding out of auto racing. Buick is ditching its sponsorship of Tiger Woods. The volume of media just sent to the Super Bowl was way down. It’s happening on a macro- level, and as above, so below. I’d guess that whatever budgets the Upper Decks or Sony PlayStations or 20th Century Foxes might have to throw at marketing for 2010—the stuff that might creep into the comics world—will be down as well. I think Reed adding a show will add some competition for the tightening marketing dollar.
“Moving a New York convention on the calendar won’t matter one whit. It’s effectively a zero sum. I think they’ve already moved this show around already anyhow, right?”
As for our own thoughts? Aside from the Passover problem, April was an ideal time for a big comics show in New York — spring renewal, blooming flowers, hope, and optimism. It was also the perfect time to kick off the summer movie slate. That said, early October in New York is pretty much the most perfect time of the year — crisp fall days, the tang of apple cider, pumpkin ale, the start of the crunch of leaves underfoot. However, it will come at the end of the summer movie cycle and just in time for Christmas movies, which may not be fan friendly as the summer crop.
But you know, we love New York any time of year. Could I leave you running merrily through the snow? Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire’s glow?