We saw it happen with the London Book Fair, so we really shouldn’t be surprised that Book Expo America appears hell-bent on dragging out the uncertainty over the New York event until such time as the authorities make the decision for them.
While other events, from publishing to pop concerts to basketball, do the right thing and take a firm position in the best interests of all, Book Expo America’s last statement, on March 10, was full of meaningless platitudes about the safety and well-being of participants.
It seems even a pandemic declaration by the World Health Organisation and a decision by the US president to ban flights from Europe cannot dissuade Reed Exhibitions from its policy of not taking responsibility.
From the Book Expo website statement (PDF) on March 10:
(Norwalk, CT – March 10, 2020) – We at BookExpo and Reed Exhibitions know that the COVID-19 virus is at the forefront of our customers’ minds.
… The publishing industry is a global community, and
the well-being of that community is of the utmost importance to us.
The effect of the COVID-19 virus on the publishing business and our people is significant and difficult to navigate. Many industry events outside of the United States, have had to make difficult decisions about proceeding with their events. We understand the impact that has on the publishing industry and we want to be proactive and transparent about BookExpo.
BookExpo & BookCon will proceed as planned May 27-31st, 2020. We do not anticipate any changes or delays to our event.
Now compare the statement from the Texas Library Association Annual Conference which has just cancelled:
With a heavy heart the TLA Executive Board made the difficult decision today to transition to a streamlined, virtual event and cancel TLA 2020 activities in Houston to protect the health and safety of our members, attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.
But literally as I go to post this item, news is breaking that in New York large gatherings of 500 or more have been banned.
It looks likely that, once again, Reed Exhibitions will be able to cancel a trade book fair without taking responsibility.