Monthly Archives: May 2010

BookExpo America 2010: Time to consider the environment.

I am in New York, NY attending the largest publishing event in North America — BookExpo America (BEA) — “the content and the buzz.” Despite predictions to the contrary, the event is well-attended and fueled with vibrant energy from the exhibitors and participants. One thing that has amazed me about this event is how unconscious it is about consuming the other kind of energy.

Books are precious, not disposable. Publishers throughout the exhibit hall have their authors signing and giving away their books to anyone who lines up for them faster than business cards. How about if instead, publishers reconsidered their marketing strategies and were more judicious about giving away their books to a targeted audience of those who are seriously considering distributing, buying, or licensing the rights to them? It would be better for the environment and better for the authors and artists.

Do we really need or want all this “stuff”? Every booth has freebies to give away to attract those mulling about the exhibit hall to spend more time in the booths. Staplers, candy, sewing kits (no kidding), pads, bags, pens, . . . “stuff” is everywhere. People are walking around with bulging give-away bags full of stuff. Does it really help to propel the industry to a better place? What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA took a stand and said enough is enough, and they encouraged (or demanded) that exhibitors be friendlier to the environment and just show their wares without giving away superfluous “stuff”?

Collateral abounds. On top of the “stuff” there is also reams of paper used to produce all of the collateral materials each exhibitor has at their booth. What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA had guidelines that permitted only small-format collateral (such as bookmarks vs. full sheets of paper)? What if they encouraged (or demanded) that publishers post their catalogs online and direct interested parties to a website vs. hand out paper catalogs?

No place to recycle! At BEA10 there is a lot of paper changing hands, water from bottles being imbibed, containers being disseminated at lunch . . . and at the Jacob K. Javits Center there is not a single place to recycle anything. What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA encouraged (or demanded) that the Jacob K. Javits Center place recycling bins throughout the event and, if they wouldn’t, change the location of the event to a venue that would?

Take a leadership position. As a publisher (and mother) who cares about the environment, I would like to see the North American publishing industry take a stand and commit to being more environmentally friendly. The inspiration could come from reading What Does It Mean To Be Green?, and the initial momentum could come from taking the baby steps I’ve suggested at BEA11.

Negotiating the Gray –– It’s a Process

I recently finished reading Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters, by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. (www.deakgroup.com) with Teresa Barker. I strongly recommend this book for parents, educators, and coaches of girls, and I guarantee that you will glean from it “pearls of wisdom” for which you will be grateful. As an enticement to read the book, I’d like to share with you some of the take-away messages of the first chapter of the book entitled, The Search for Perspective.

“Negotiating the Gray.” Dr. Deak suggests that parenting is helping a girl to navigate through the chaos of life or “negotiating the gray.” The reality is that the world is mostly gray, not black and white. Dr. Deak cautions parents from approaching issues in “fix it” mode and instead to understand that it is a process. She points out that what makes negotiating the gray so challenging is that often times parents and teachers are doing the same thing in their own lives – struggling with identities, priorities, and values. Moreover, society no longer provides clarity about what is OK and what is not. Dr. Deak advises that the first order of business is to think about what you value most and let that serve as the foundation for your reasoning as you and your daughter negotiate the gray.

The Process. Dr. Deak helpfully outlines the steps necessary to negotiate the gray. Step 1: Consciously measure your responses in a manner that allows for deeper exploration of the underlying issues and concerns your daughter may have, or as Dr. Deak advises, “don’t jump into the deep water; wade in and see how far you need to go.” Step 2: Listen without judgment or the need to identify a solution. Be an active, empathic listener. Sometimes all a girl needs is acknowledgment of her situation and feelings. Step 3: Continue to listen and guide her understanding of the situation. Dr. Deak provides the following illustration, “When you said that you hate school, you mentioned some things, but could you help me understand by giving some examples?” In so doing, you are helping your daughter to see things more clearly. Step 4: Discuss possible strategies. Here again, it is important to refrain from being too judgmental. The goal is to let her practice thinking of strategies and weighing their probability of success or failure. Step 5. Arrive at resolution through action or acceptance. The final step becomes clear as the situation either dissolves over time or requires action or acceptance.

Take the Opportunity to Shape Them. Throughout the entire process of negotiating the gray, be comfortable making value statements about your core philosophies or moral standards. Since so much of the world is gray, it is vital for children to know about the areas that we as parents deem to be black and white, and this understanding gives them a sense of relief and comfort. “When we embrace the process of connection, listening, and sharing strategy, we create opportunity for genuine growth in our girls, ourselves, and our institutions,” Dr. Deak concludes.

As a mother of two girls (and one boy!), I applaud Dr. Deak for sharing her “guiding principles for understanding girls, understanding their hopes and dreams as well as their struggles and pain, and understanding what we can do, as adults, to create family and school environments in which they can find their best selves and live their best lives.”