As news came in this evening (GMT) that Book Expo America had postponed the May event it seemed that, belatedly and way too late for the comfort of participants, BEA had finally woken up to the reality that New York, America, and indeed the world, was in crisis.
But in fact it seems BEA’s version of reality is a different planet from that of the American people, the American authorities and, belatedly, the American President, who has spoke of the coronavirus as a hoax, a matter of no consequence, the invisible enemy, and suddenly of not just months but possibly eighteen months of continuing crisis.
Yet incredibly, as the coronavirus spirals out of control in the USA, with 10,000 cases recorded as this post goes live, BEA has postponed the event from a May 28 start to a July 22 start – just nine weeks later.
While we can all hope that the crisis is by then less severe than it is now, many expect it to be even worse by then, and there can be no-one outside the BEA team that seriously believes publishers, authors and visitors are going to casually rearrange their plans for July given the level of uncertainty and borderline fear that is gripping much of the world today.
Book Expo America and Reed Exhibitions have shown yet again that they are totally disconnected from the real world the publishing industry lives in.
Authors and publishers should vote with their feet now and send a clear message to Book Expo America and Reed Exhibitions that this is not a game.