I posted elsewhere about BEA (http://jenniferonwriting.blogspot.com/2008/06/bea-and-things.html).
The Books-a-Million show was similar, on a smaller scale. Authors from several publishers signed stacks of free books (I had a beautiful swirly stack of The Redeeming that I hated to disturb.)
Other vendors such as Ghiradelli and Republic of Tea were there to encourage the bookstores to carry their products (or more of their products or their new products). The Republic of Tea sample I slammed down was mighty good. I love their tea. But I digress.
As at BEA, I noted that publishers were interested in showcasing their hardback mainstream authors and YA over genre. However, more genre authors were signing--Lynsay Sands, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Bond, and a couple mystery authors. There were quite a few Christian publishers there, and I was made aware that Christian fiction is trying new things--suspense, historical, and paranormal. Very cool.
The feeling at this show was positive and upbeat. The main complaint I heard was that the show was too short. They did half a day instead of an entire day, which I gather is a change.
The booksellers that came to my booth said several things that gave me cheer.
1. The Immortals series was doing well at their stores (yay!)
2. Paranormal romance is still walking out the door like it has fast little legs.
3. Romance is the top seller at most stores.
4. My books are doing well at their stores.
(Although I take statements such as #4 with a grain of salt--are they mixing me up with someone else? or just being polite? LOL)
Anyway, I gave away a lot of books, signed until my hand was sore, and met a lot of booksellers from the southeast, an area I don't get to often.
Nowhere did I hear complaints about book sales being down. Now, that doesn't mean they weren't (obviously), but that vibe was not in the air. Everyone seemed optimistic and upbeat. It could be that at trade fairs, you're supposed to be positive to encouage vendors to sign contracts with bookstores, but still, it was nice not to hear gloom and doom about the book industry. I get plenty of that elsewhere, real and imagined.
Here's me with my swirl of books.