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Previewing Book Expo Canada

The Globe and Mail’s James Adams looks at the upcoming Book Expo Canada – the smaller, kinder, more Canadian version of BEA – and wonders whether putting it on year after year is really worth it. The booksellers, publishers, distributors and wholesalers, authors, agents, librarians and Expo organizers who attend each year agree that “it’s a good thing,” as several said in recent interviews, but most haven’t got a precise notion about what it’s good for, beyond a chance to network. Laurie Greenwood, a mainstay among Edmonton independent booksellers for more than a quarter-century, expressed a common sentiment to Adams when she observed: “Every year I waffle about attending and then every year I go.”

It’s not for lack of trying on Reed Exhibitions’ part. his year, to give the publishers what they want, Reed has worked with International Readings at Harbourfront and the inaugural Luminato festival to run a mini-festival called “Booked! Three Days Between the Covers.” It will involve a potpourri of readings, panel discussions, workshops, lunches and Friday’s tribute to Stephen King that is being billed as his first-ever professional visit to Toronto. And the city, too, is part of the problem. Patrick Crean, publisher of Toronto-based Thomas Allen Publishers, thinks there should be “serious consideration to be given to moving it around. Why not Halifax? Is Montreal too much of a stretch?” McClelland and Stewart publisher Douglas Pepper concurred: “I don’t need any more book events in Toronto. … We have to remember that while this is obviously the largest and most dominant geography for book publishing, it’s not the only scene in the country.”

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