I had the rather brief pleasure of stopping by Box Expo America at the Javits Center in Midtown Manhattan yesterday, with the goal of documenting the infiltration of emerging technologies on the showroom floor for my day job. You can find that report in its entirety over at Gearlog.com—the short version, for those who just don’t have the patience to click through to a tech blog, is that, save for a small patch of carpet labeled the “New Media Zone,” there was hardly an ebook reader to be found on the premises.
The news was a touch better for the comics scene, however—though, for the record, the majority of the sequential art publishers present were also ghettoized, in this case it was into a small Diamond Distribution row. All said though, there was a fairly strong showing under the Diamond umbrella, including booth for Dark Horse, Image, Oni, IDW, and Marvel. A brief chat with Dark Horse’s Jeremy Atkins confirmed that—contrary to expectations—the second day of the show was bustling.
Pre-show news—and, of course, just a general sense of doom with respect to the current state of the publishing industry—had led me to expect something far more restrained. I’d heard or read somewhere that BEA had experienced a 20-percent drop in exhibitors from the year before, that some major publishing houses were MIA, and that a number of guests had pulled out of their speaking engagements.
Ultimately, however, it seemed that the vast majority of the industry had opted to continue on, either optimistic about the future in a post-economic slump, or just simply marching cheerfully into the publishing apocalypse. Whichever the case was, attendees had shown up in droves not too long after the floor first opened up on Friday morning.
Over at the tiny Fantagraphics corner of the giant W.W. Norton Booth, things were generally cheerful as well. Eric Reynolds noted how the last 15 years or so had been kind to the company on the literary front. Long gone were the days of justifying the presence of a comic book company at a book publishing show.
Of course it should be pointed out, in the end, that the walls of the Javits Center have long proven something of a reality distortion field with regards to the economic state of the outside world, so any generally positive report from the showroom floor (present company include) ought be taken with a grain of salt. For the time being, however, reports of the industry’s deaths seem at least somewhat exaggerated.