Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such office, Nashville
Weather: Hot and sunny
Reading through the Book Expo web site in preparation for the BEA trade show this coming weekend, I am struck by the use of the word “new.” There are NEW stages for author presentations, NEW media to learn about, NEW publishers trying to gain recognition, NEW seminars on NEW subjects, and on and on. Of course, that shouldn’t be a surprise since the show is basically about what’s coming in the next six months to a year. And we Americans still have enough frontier spirit to like that which is just ahead. We tire so quickly of the same old same-o.
At lunch with friends yesterday we were discussing authors and the ways they challenge our prejudices. The conversation ranged from Shakespeare to Dickens. I wondered how “new” Pearl Buck’s novels about life in China seemed when she wrote them in the 1930s in the face of US prejudice against Chinese laborers during the preceding 75 years or so. Great writers are good at jarring us from some of our thinking now and then, at calling us to take a fresh new look. Buck won the Pulitzer in 1938 for The Good Earth.
One thing I notice in the BEA exhibitors list is its expansion to include a number of “new-to-this-show” foreign publishers. So many are from the Middle East with names starting with “al” or “Dar”; then a great number from China and India. We’ve always had a few from Western Europe and Italy, but BEA is now rivaling the big international show in Frankfurt, Germany, or the longstanding children’s international show in Bologna, Italy. This is not a complaint; I see having these foreign publishers on our turf as a real benefit if we represent authors who write material that will translate well. Often it can mean a sale of something published in years past, in which case it’s “new” to readers in another country. Besides, with a larger international presence at BEA, we don’t have to endure those overseas flights!
I can tell before I go to BEA that the newest thing about the business is that we live in a global village, and we are more connected through the Internet. I’d be interested to know ways you feel your work as a writer has been shaped by the increased connectivity among us humans here on planet Earth.