Sunday, September 27, 2009

SIBA Trade Show - Books, Books, Books (and authors!)

I am back from the SIBA Trade Show in Greenville South Carolina, and I must say I am exhausted.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but one difference I certainly noticed from, say The BEA, is that these Southern Publishers are just so darned nice! There were no foiled attempts to make eye contact, no conversations cut short - I mean, people were walking up TO ME, handing me donuts, asking if I wanted some chocolates, and then getting down to the business of discussing books and printing.

This unrelenting friendliness was actually so unexpected and exhausting, that I had to take a break outside on the deck of the Carolina Center every hour or so, just to catch my breath!

I met a bunch of new promising leads, and ran into some old friends - Marti Healy and Barry Doss - who had long ago given up on Italian printing, but now that I am with Imago, may want to discuss business again. Also had a nice chat with authors Rusty McClure (a plot to rig golf tournaments involving a secret society of admirers of the Roman general Cincinnatus) and Lin Stepp (A Smokey Mountain Romance).

After the show, I decided to figure out: Is there an actual "Town" of Greenville? Or is it just this highway with strip malls and this weird scary windowless night club across the street from where my hotel is? In fact I did discover an actual Main Street, which residence say they are fighting hard to revive, to bring back to life after the highways and chain restaurants have destroyed people's daily need or desire to "go into town" to shop, run errands, buy groceries - all the things that small towns used to be there for. That used to make people's lives more interesting, more sociable - that made them get out of their cars and walk around a little bit.

Not surprisingly, I went in search of something to eat, and found a cute little Italian joint where I had a portobello pizza and a glass of wine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

SIBA Trade Show: Southern Publishers - and Poets

I'm in Greenville South Carolina, here to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Trade Show (SIBA) which begins tomorrow.

The first order of business is to grab some dinner, though amazingly (well, not so amazingly) I am still full from that Smothered Pork Chop of yesterday. Nonetheless, I have no problem polishing off an order of crab cakes.

Sitting next to me is a table full of women poets and poetry editors, which I say with certainty because I am an expert eaves-dropper. Initially, the group seems rather demure. One woman is an "inspirational poet", another discusses writing poetry for military wives. After the first round of cocktails, the conversation loosens up: one of the group confesses, then all agree, that anytime they are in a bookstore they look for copies of their books and re-arrange them so that they face outward. Some women re-catalogue the books in different sections of the store that seem more appropriate, or in multiple sections. Interestingly, they all agree that, when reading poetry, the one word that will instantly turn them off is "loins". This comment provokes hoots of laughter from several of the women, one of whom adds that even worse is when loins is combined with love, as in "the love of my loins". At this point the entire table erupts in uncontrolled hilarity.

Other topics of immediate dismissal are Patriotism (too hard to get right) and Dogs (too much Marley out there already).

Thursday, September 24, 2009


In the airport on my way to Georgia I pick up a New York Times that has, on the cover, a photo of people in boats paddling through their neighborhoods that now, due to two weeks of unrelenting rain, are under 20 feet of water. And this is in Georgia. I have spent the last few weeks of my life so buried in work that I am completely oblivious to the fact that maybe I should have packed scuba equipment for the sales calls I have planned in Georgia.

Fortunately, everything is fine. Which reinforces a dangerous suspicion on my side that the news you read or hear has virtually nothing to do with reality - and hence can be ignored.

I can't figure out Augusta. I was expecting everything to look like, well, a really nice golf course. Instead there are a lot of strip malls, and then you go over the Savannah River (above) and there you are in the midst of this old town. Where there is a rather charming hodge-podge of historic buildings like the Georgia Cotton Exchange, modish architecture like this one designed by IM Pei (right). And a big Marriott. What pulls it all together is that everything seems to be owned by a William S. Morris of Morris Communications.

I have lunch with the director of manufacturing at MVP, a division of Morris Communications, in this great local restaurant serving hearty, simple fare like this "Fried Smothered Pork Chop" (I know it sounds cruel but the pork chop is really happy in the end)

My client laughs when I tell him how I tried to get an appointment to see Augusta National. "No one gets in there without being invited" he says. "But I don't want to play golf!" I complain "I just want to discuss printing! And besides - the guy I spoke to was so nice I was sure he would see me." Which shows how clueless I am because 1) this is the South and it is kind of a professional obligation to be courteous (ie opposite of New York City), and 2) this goes double if you are associated with Augusta National. "If someone gets invited to Augusta National and they piss other members or guests off and have to be escorted out - not only is that person put on a blackball list, and never allowed on the grounds again. The person who allowed him to come onto the property in the first place is ALSO put on the blackball list and never allowed back again!"

Who amongst your friends could you trust with such responsibility? Could you trust yourself - or would the pressure to behave so flawlessly bear down upon you with such force that inevitably you would be compelled to have too many martinis, or dress inappropriately, or get into a shouting match with a complete stranger?

It appears I will not have a chance to find out, at least not on this sales trip ....

Sea turtle Illustrations copyright Morris Communications

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things You May Need

Here are just a few things that crack me up. Who thinks of these ideas?

Astound your friends and neighbors. And who's to say that a UFO did not land in your apartment - well, who?

Having read enough extreme wilderness survival stories - including stories of those who DID NOT survive - I think I may take one of these on my next camping trip. My own Safety Orange, Tru Grip, Bible! Recently one of my clients mentioned he also wanted one, to take sky-diving ....

And, wasn't this a story about a Bunny?

Brought to you by Imago.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to Florida. And the Arrival of a Lot of Books

After a marathon two-day drive from the Adirondacks, we are back in Florida. I would prefer to do the trip in three days, and choose picturesque locations to stop for dinner and an overnight stay. My husband, on the other hand, could happily get in the car and drive the 24-hours without stopping provided he had an ample supply of Red Bull and the raucous chatter of Howard Stern & friends to accompany him. And what is it about men never having to stop to pee? Exasperated that my latest restroom pitstop has added 3 minutes to our travel time (according to the GPS), he reminds me: "I thought we decided that you were going to fly this time, and I'd take the car???"

The first order of business is to clear out the old book samples to make way for the new!

But SIX cartons of book samples from Imago?

There is a little bit of everything here: coffee table books and museum monographs; Bibles? Bibles! of every shape and size; children's books; decks of cards; journals; books packaged with every kind crazy product like metal cookie cutters for dog biscuits, a kit with santa's beard and eye glasses, CDs, a magic thumb, a tin and cookie mold for making Madeleines, and more and more and more.

Well, until I get a bigger bookshelf, those cartons are getting "re-purposed". Not too bad ....

This week, getting ready for my road trip to Georgia and South Carolina.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Yes, I remember: This is what being REALLY BUSY feels like!

My first week getting up to speed with everything Imago has to offer, and talking talking talking to clients. What a difference: to have something to talk about with clients that actually intrigues and interests them!

Already I've got a project booked for Imago's Barcelona facility that the publisher has stated is "the most important project on a living contemporary artist that ANYONE will publish in 2010." Wow, that's a little pressure, and it looks like I will be going to Barcelona with the book's designer to assist with the press check. Now, I just hope they don't keep us working the entire time ....

Then I closed the deal on a couple of projects with a speciality publisher out of Miami, these will print in Asia.

Finally, I've got some serious interest for several projects for Imago's India facility.

I like this!