Last month, Brien McDonald took over at the
helm of BookExpo America (BEA). Andrew
Richard Albanese caught up with McDonald
for a quick “get-to-know-you” Q&A.
AA: You’ve been involved with BEA for
years, but for those who may not know you,
tell us a little about yourself.
BM: I’ve been at Reed for six years now. I came
to BEA in 2010 to be National Account Director,
and from the get-go I’ve been working with
publishers. I shifted over to our ReedPOP group a
couple years ago to launch BookCon, but I never
really left BEA. I truly enjoy working with publishers. I started my
career at a publisher so the industry holds a special place with me.
AA: It’s a big year, with BEA going to Chicago. Tell us
what you expect from this year’s event.
BM: I’m really excited. BEA hasn’t left New York for many
years, so it’s great to go to Chicago. It’s going to be really fun to
engage with the buyers from Middle America on their home turf,
including a lot of folks who may not have been able to make the
trek to New York. We’re expecting strong attendance–all the
major publishers are heading out to Chicago, and the show floor is
shaping up nicely, so everything is pointing in the right direction.
AA: What can you tell publishers new to
the city about Chicago?
BM: Chicago is an amazing convention city. It
has so much character, world-class museums,
food, music and is very convenient to get to, with
many flights operating daily. The McCormick
Center is a great facility that will have a different
feel from the Javits Center in New York. We’re
also benefiting from a location with significantly
lower hotel rates, the lowest we’ve seen in years.
AA: Since its launch two years ago, BookCon
has done very well–I think exceeding some
people’s expectations. Do you think the momentum will
follow BookCon from New York to Chicago?
BM: I do. Right now we’re comparing BookCon in Chicago to
year one in New York and we’re hitting all our marks. Chicago is
a great city for ReedPOP, we have a lot of experience and a
nice track record with the fans there, particularly from our comic
convention C2E2. So we’re excited to bring BookCon there
and we’re expecting success. And who knows, BookCon could
develop into a movable model, with a few of them happening
throughout the year. It will always be attached to BEA, but it
will be fun to get out and experiment in a new city. ■
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