There could hardly be a starker contrast. The International Publishers Association cancels the Lillehammer World Congress in May in the interests of health and safety and to “provide short-term certainty to speakers, delegates and congress partners”. Book Expo America updates its position to tell us nothing has changed.

BEA is set to run May 27-29 in New York, a city under partial lockdown, with bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas closed, and the US President telling the world the crisis is likely to go on through August and beyond, and that people should avoid crowds of more than ten people.

Book Expo America updated its March 10 statement on March 15, saying,

To date, we remain optimistic that we can take the appropriate measures to see ourselves on the other side of this by the end of May and carry on as planned (and will) make the most responsible decisions that ensure the health and safety of our customers.

In fairness this a day before President Trump said,

People are talking about July, August, something like that … could be longer than that.

But BEA’s position has been clear all along: Just as the London Book Fair did, Book Expo America will drag this out as long as they can and will watch exhibitors and visitors cancel to protect themselves rather than do the right thing.

The right thing? Reed Exhibitions might want to study the IPA playbook to see how things should be done. This was the statement from the IPA today:

The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Norwegian Publishers Association (NPA) have taken the difficult decision to cancel the 33rd International Publishers Congress which was scheduled to be held in Lillehammer from May 28 to May 30.

The climate of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible to proceed with the congress as scheduled. Apart from serious questions of maintaining personal health and safety, both IPA and NPA also wish to provide short-term certainty to speakers, delegates and congress partners.

The IPA and NPA are aware that this decision will raise many practical questions for speakers and delegates who will be contacted as soon as possible. We would like to thank you for your support of the congress and hope you understand the decision that we have taken.

All credit and kudos to the IPA and the Norwegian Publishers Association for taking this bold step at this time. We salute you.

Now it’s time for Book Expo America to do the right thing. But don’t hold your breath.