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BookExpo organizers 'retiring' event

BookExpo organizers 'retiring' event

BookExpo, the largest annual publishing convention and trade show in the U.S., is going to be retired, event organizers announced in a statement Tuesday. 

According to The Associated Press, ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter of a century, said it was ending the event, along with the fan-focused BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound, effective immediately. 

ReedPop said in the statement shared with Publishers Weekly, that given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.”

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The decades-long event has previously hosted guest speakers like former President Clinton and author Margaret Atwood. While BookExpo previously rotated its location from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Javits Center.

Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually due to COVID-19, and publishers have recently debated the need for an in-person convention when book promotion and sales have largely moved online. 

“The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need,” Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in the statement, according to the AP. 

“This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before,” she added. “We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.”

The AP reported that Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement that he hoped events bringing members of the industry together in person would eventually happen again in the future.

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“Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers,” he said. “In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.”

According to the AP, the modern BookExpo dates back to 1947, although booksellers have met annually since the early 20th century. 

The event once served as an opportunity, usually in the late spring, for authors to promote new books and for publishers to place orders. BookExpo has also brought in a series of top authors to speak with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists.