Monthly Archives: June 2011

Bemidji Book Festival 2011

You’d think that being in rural Minnesota wouldn’t bring much in the way of industry happenings, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  My Midwest visit just so happened to coincide with the Bemidji Book Festival, a 6-day marathon of events with local authors, poets and illustrators.  Kudos to the Bemidji Library and the MN Legacy Fund for making this all happen!

I stepped off the plane and immediately headed to a presentation by Catherine Friend, author of both children’s stories and the adult books, Hit By A Farm, Sheepish, and The Compassionate Carnivore.  With a humble, witty voice on her 1 1/2 memoirs and a great perspective on local farming (and sheep), she’s like a lady Michael Pollan with a personal touch.  I’m thinking it’s time to take a closer look her kids’ books, and also take up knitting!

The next morning, I accessed my inner child by attending Thursday morning’s library event with author/illustrator Lynne Jonell.  While Jonell got her start in picture books, she’s now known for her middle-grade novels, like Emmy And The Incredible Shrinking Rat.  I think the design (by Amelia May Anderson) and art (by Jonathan Bean) for Emmy is impeccable – the hand-drawn type is seamlessly integrated to the limited-color line drawings, which carry over into a flip-book style interior. Plus, it was a pleasure to listen to Lynne’s story and watch her graciously field questions from aspiring picture book authors with just the right answers (five letters: SCBWI) and some kind inspiration.

On Friday night, we headed to the high school for an author’s fair.  While most of the authors were of the niche, poetry or self-published variety, I did discover Erik Evenson, a graphic novelist/illustrator who is – get this – originally from New Hampshire!  His Gods of Asgard and autobiographical web comic, Erik’s Sketchbook Diary, were easily the best-designed finds at the fair.  Definitely check out his work if you’re interested in comics.

But nothing at the festival could top Friday’s keynote speaker, Roxana Saberi.  Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist who was imprisoned in Iran and falsely charged of spying in 2009, now speaks about her life, Iran, and the book she wrote about her experiences (Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity In Iran).  She talked eloquently and powerfully about the human rights movements in Iran and the Middle East, and it certainly encouraged me to get more involved.  Can’t wait to finish reading her book!

It’s been an action-packed visit here in Bemidji, and while I’m always happy to return to Brooklyn, I could still use another week or two relaxing in the country and soaking up all that Minnesota has to offer.

Belated BEA Busyness

Well, it’s been another one of those times where my blog has hit a bit of a lag!  My life these days is crazy busy, personally and professionally, so I really can’t complain.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for writing about my experiences or keeping up with my social media presence.  So now that I’m comfy on the recliner on vacation in Bemidji, it’s time to play a little Walking In Public catch-up…

First off, if you haven’t headed over to my new gig as a columnist on the blog, Publishing Trendsetter, you want to go to there!  The site is full of great advice and insight from young professionals on those either in their first few years, or looking to get into the industry.  As for me, I’ll be bringing the visual inspiration with the column, Design Candy.

A few weeks ago, I kicked it off on Trendsetter with my favorite design finds, head-to-head, from the publishing extravaganza of the year, BEA.  But I had a lot of favorite moments that didn’t make it onto that post.  For some reason, most of the Big 6 publishers disappoint – their large space isn’t utilized with books, but posters/video screens that don’t make an impact.  It’s the indie publishers (plus the usual suspects in Chronicle, Candlewick and Abrams) that make up the best exhibits.

Missed BEA the first time around?  Check out my highlights now:

Chronicle Books: Is designer heaven – no one even comes close to these guys in my book.

Abrams: They always pull out all the stops, this time with a giant snowglobe.

International: Saudi Arabia is by far the friendliest, but I love looking through all the foreign-language books.

Candlewick Press: No pics of the display, but note the presence of actual kids’ books.

Workman: Fun exhibit full of books, and I got a Sophie Blackall Missed Connections poster – my favorite swag of the day!

Enchanted Lion Books: Nice use of the full jacket proofs on the background.

Mo’s Nose: These self-publishers pulled out all the stops with cool display and marketing.  Plus, I think the idea of an app based on a scratch-and-sniff book is hilarious.

Hyperion: Okay, I have to be honest, this is not on my favorite list.  I just have to ask… what is with the harvest cornucopia?!  I can’t help but laugh at this one.

And, of course… here’s Penguin: