Book Expo America, the annual gathering of tribes for the book business, was a hot time in a sweltering New York City this past weekend.  The Javits Center was 'comic convention' hot and sticky at times on Friday, with smaller crowds on Saturday cooling the venue somewhat.  Fans from promotionally minded publishers began appearing Friday afternoon, and by Saturday morning there were several, including a Bart Simpson fan with a list of books on the back (including comic collections) and his yellow head on the front.

A spokesperson for show organizer Reed Exhibitions told us that attendance might be up as much as 15% over the show's last turn in New York two years ago, with growth in the number of librarians one important component.

Graphic novels continued as one of the hottest categories in publishing at the show, with their growth a noticable factor at booths throughout the floor.

As we reported last year, the show did not market the graphic novel pavilion as a separate area of the floor this year.  That area had morphed into the Diamond Book Distributors aisle, with matching booths for Diamond and all of its publisher clients (including Marvel) and a 3D version of its diamond-shaped logo hovering overhead.  The new BEA presentation was one of the last marketing initiatives organized by Diamond Director of Marketing Shelley Meyers, who recently left the company to pursue other interests.
Jim Demonakos was the
best-dressed person at the
Strangers in Paradise Wrap Party
The line for the Laurell K. Hamilton signing at the Marvel booth in the Diamond aisle stretched out of sight behind the booth.

he DC island began in the next aisle, but most other graphic novel lines were now elsewhere either with their distributors, book publisher allies, or appearing as a line from a publisher in a portfolio of categories.  The integration of manga into mainstream American publishing was also visible in the booth set-ups, with all of the top three manga publishers now in areas of major American publishers -- Del Rey with the rest of Random House, Viz with distributor Simon & Schuster, and Tokyopop with Harpercollins.

he graphic novel category was showing new signs of maturity, with many of the publishers that launched new lines or formed alliances with comic publishers (see 'BEA -- Graphic Novels Come of Age') now entering their second or third years in the business.  There were no signs of slowing growth in the number of titles, with both the number of new releases and backlist title counts continuing to grow.

Diamond created standard
booths for its clients
The weekend kicked off with the Strangers in Paradise Wrap Party/CBLDF fundraiser downtown at the Pourhouse on Thursday night, which brought together many of the comic folks, local or in for the weekend.  By the time we left, which was before the silent auction concluded, the event had raised nearly $5,000 for the cause.  We caught Jim Demonakos of Unshelved and Emerald City Con on the red carpet for this event, in a stylish ICv2 orange tee.

We noted to long-time Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth, who's been in the comics business about as long as we have, that graphic novels were 'everywhere' on the floor at the show.  He laughed and said, 'Look what we've done.'  Watch this space as our extensive coverage of the graphic novel announcements at the show unfolds.