The first annual Book Blogger Convention was officially held on May 28 at the Javits Center in New York City, immediately following the conclusion of BookExpo America. More than 200 bloggers, publishers, and authors attended.
Among the topics covered in presentations and panels: Professionalism/Ethics, Writing/Building Content, Marketing, Social Responsibility, and Author/Blogger Relationships.
All of the Book Blogger Convention attendees were issued press passes to BEA, a sign that the publishing industry is beginning to take bloggers seriously. Ron Hogan, the founder of Beatrice.com and former e-marketing manager for Houghtlin Mifflin, spoke at length on the topic.
"Professionalism isn't a paycheck -- it's about living up to a certain level of excellence," Hogan said. "There are so many ways to talk about a book besides a critical review."
Publishers welcomed book bloggers with open arms, and many set up pre-convention tours of their editorial offices exclusively for Book Blogger Convention attendees. Several publishers, including Chronicle Books, Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, Peachtree Publishing, and Simon & Schuster, had publicists or marketing department staff attend the convention on their behalf.
In contrast to BEA, publishers weren't there to promote their fall lists. All of the publishers I spoke with were looking to learn more about creating a dialogue with book bloggers, a sentiment that was echoed by keynote presenter Maureen Johnson. "With so many blogs, publishers don't know what to make of all the noise," she said.
The convention allowed publishers, bloggers, and authors to meet face-to-face and feel each other out. As a result, breakfast, lunch, and breaks felt a lot like being at a speed-dating event.
Johnson, the author of six young adult books, gave a terrifically entertaining keynote presentation. "It's the first PowerPoint presentation I've made in 20 years," she joked. And, despite her more than 17,000 Twitter followers, she downplayed her billing as "a frequent blogger and a regular on the social media scene." There are no experts qualified to speak on the Internet and social media, she said, "with the exception of Cory Doctorow."
The labels on attendees' badges -- blogger, publisher, author, librarian, bookseller -- were somewhat misleading. Although there were a few bloggers who didn't wear other hats in the industry, there were countless authors who blog (like myself), publishers who blog, librarians who blog, etc.
Everyone shared one thing in common: we love books and we love to blog about them. When we pick up a book we love, we need to tell the world about it. I found that the conference was an excellent opportunity to dispense with labels and simply connect with fellow book lovers.