Book Expo America Recap
This post was provided by Rosa Sriver, a book fanatic and member of the Project-Nerd Street Team.
I envisioned Book Expo America and BookCon as a paradise for book lovers, a place where books wander around and find their rightful owners. As I walked through the doors, it was as if I had died and gone to heaven. The rows and rows of books, the booths with free books, and advertisements for upcoming books were purely magical. As someone who reads over 100 books a year, I was amazed at how many books and authors were at BEA and BookCon that I had never heard of or encountered. The experience of attending BEA and BookCon made me realize that it is no longer enough for me to read books. I want to be a part of the book world. By day four my faith in humanity had been slightly restored. To see people come together, surrounded by books makes me believe that there is hope for us yet.
At the forefront of the publishing world is the topic of diversity and how the real world is represented equally in literature and comics. At BEA and BookCon I attended two panels on diversity in literature and the publishing industry. The important question to come out of both panels was, “When we talk about needing diversity in literature, graphic novels and comic books are we telling authors what to write?” No single character or protagonist can speak for an entire group. An author can only speak for the character they are writing for. As a first generation Latina, when I was younger it would have been nice to see myself represented in popular books. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, but today it’s upsetting to me.
Today things are different but there is still more work to do, not only for our kids but for adults as well. As I look through the advance copies and published books I received from BEA and BookCon, 20 out of 100 books would be considered diverse or written by a non-white author. At BookCon, 16 out of 88 authors were considered diverse. While this may seem like a small number, it shows progress. Many publishers are embracing the need and desire for diverse authors and I hope to see more in the near future. The topic of diversity has been an issue for over 30 years. The difficulty with diverse books is that publishers are looking for books that sell and sell well. However, the public is demanding more.
While we focus on diversity, it is important to give all readers a good story, not just fill a quota. Books for kids, with a good story, to be released this year as recommended by the panel include:
- Ghost by Raina Telgemeier
- Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
- Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
I look forward to reading these books and reporting back to all of you. I will continue to follow the “we need diverse books” movement and see where it takes us.
For more of the amazing things that happened at Book Expo America, as well as other great conventions and events our team has attended this year, check out our Project-Nerd Tour 2016 Page and the Project-Nerd Tour Category.