Published: Saturday, June 09 - Cleveland.com
The publishing industry's annual trade show featured a carnival-like hive of more than a thousand vendors, giving off a vibe that a medieval fairgoer might recognize. Susan Cash peddled "The Complete Funky Winkerbean" in the Kent State University Press booth. A few dozen feet south in Manhattan's massive Jacob K. Javits Center, buyers clustered at the computers of OverDrive, a digital distributor that has never sold a physical book.
From its pilot 2003 experiment supplying digital books to the Cleveland Public Library, OverDrive now places e-books in close to 20,000 libraries with users in 204 nations, said David Burleigh, the company's vice president for marketing.
OverDrive also puts virtual books in schools -- including St. Ignatius, Orange and Shaker Heights high schools -- and has grown to 160 employees, requiring an expansion into a new Garfield Heights building.
"Everybody who has anything to do with books -- the supply chain is here [at Book Expo]," said Burleigh, who lives in Shaker Heights and is reading "Unbroken" on his Sony reading device.
Michael Heuer, who heads the direct-sales group for Hachette Books, was feeling jolly about the supply chain. He was busy taking orders for "The Casual Vacancy," the first adult book from J.K. Rowling, which has a "worldwide laydown date" of Thursday, Sept. 27.
A veteran of more than 20 Book Expos, Heuer, who lives in Lyndhurst, said he concentrates now on "how to most efficiently and effectively sell our books -- in whatever format -- in a very rapidly changing environment."
One of those rapid shifts was explicit in the pedigree of "Fifty Shades of Grey," a self-published trilogy that is this year's breakout phenomena. Random House bought the rights from writer E.L. James and, in the last three months, has sold some 10 million copies, about half in paperback and half as downloads.
A more peaceful coexistence between print and cyberspace seemed to be settling in. The tony New York Review of Books announced at Book Expo that it is launching its own line of literary e-books.
More at Cleveland.com