Spent the day at BookExpo America at Manhattan's Javits Center. First of all, it was jammed. Didn't get any numbers, but I was at Javits in February for the NY ComicCon and that reeled in between 35 and 40,000 attendees, and this show seemed way more crowded even though it used twice the space. The show floor and meeting rooms also were uncomfortably warm. The meeting rooms were packed to the gills and should have been larger. If you really want to attend a particular meeting, I'd advise arriving 15 minutes early to guarantee you'll get in. Better early than standing up or even trying to hear from the hall as I did for the Ethics in Reviewing session.
I started the day off with a bang, sitting in (actually standing with notepad in one hand and trusty Nikon in the other) on the discussion of the growing influence of bloggers in the book world. It was a rehash of the ongoing bloggers vs so-called "real" reviewers argument, which is a good/bad one. This session, alas, was disappointing because the panelists all were legitimate reviewers, including a critic for the NY Times and a college lit professor, who also blog.
Those folks aren't the people causing concern. It's others going by the handle of Book Girl, or Book Dog, or Bookasaurus, etc., basically book nerds with no chops who pound away on their PCs while their 18 cats prance in the background. Those are the people I wanted to see defending their legitimacy, not some Times ace .
I know I'm being more than a little smug here, but if the BookGirl/Dog/asauruses were allowed to speak, maybe it would have hammered another nail in this argument's coffin. I'm for anything and everything that promotes books and reading, and while I don't have 18 cats, I've got a scotty dog with whom I hold long and meaningful conversations (he could outblog any of you pikers). I'm also a book nerd who spends waaayyyy too much time on his PC, so I understand the POV of the fox and the hound.
In their defense, the bloggers all agreed that they wished book blogs were of a higher quality, and rightly contend that whether you review on your personal blog or in a "legitimate" print publication, it's paramount to actually have some talent. The session was ripe with self aggrandizing, and it was easy to target the audience bloggers : they cheered whenever a speaker praised blogging and rolled their eyes when print was legitimized.
This will be an ongoing battle for years to come. I didn't expect any real answers and didn't get them. Too bad.