Trials of the Trade Show:
So, you know that saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”?
Well it also takes a lot of children to build a village! The Chronicle Books village at Book Expo America (BEA), that is. This year we debuted our brand new, very swanky, modular booth. As you saw in Andrea’s post, Thalia and her fans looked happy in the world we constructed! And, from the ooo’s and ahh’s flying around on opening day, it seemed to be an overall success.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses pre-expo. Let’s take a little visual tour of what it takes to set up our CB village.
Setup Day 1
It’s about 90 degrees on the streets of Manhattan. It also happens to be 90 degrees inside the Javits Center, where the AC doesn’t kick in until BEA officially starts. How nice! There we meet Scotty, the trucker. He stores the booth and is responsible for it being safely transported to and from the shows. He’s been in the biz since birth. And with the heaviest NY accent you’ve ever heard, he rules the floor on day 1. Everyone knows Scotty and Scotty knows everyone. You need something? Ask Scotty! Especially if you need lunch. He’s got you covered.
Note: to be a New Yorker working in the trade show industry you must have a “y” at the end of your name!
Next comes Franky (well, it’s probably Frankie but for the sake of my generalization, he’s Franky). Once Scotty forklifts the 12 or so pallets of 36, 8’ x 8’ rolling shelving units, 6 pallets of 22 mini mobile display tables, carpet, etc into our approximately 50’x60’ plot of land, the torch is passed to Franky and his crew: Richy (probably an “ie” as well), Bobby, Johnny, and Eugene (who somehow got by without a “y”). They start at the bottom and work up. Carpet first. And when you realized the manufacturer forgot to cut off the selvage edge, well, you grow to like a few stripes.
Note: you can’t smoke cigarettes anywhere in New York City, right? Wrong…you can smoke in the Javits if you’re on the job!
Once the carpet is down, which is crucial and can take hours, the village plans are pulled out and units start rolling. The trade show hollering begins…“Hey Mikey!! Where do you want this one to go??” That’s Franky yelling to our dear Creative Director, Michael Carabetta. Michael is always Mike in NY! Every unit, every table, every book has a place. It’s been measured and planned to the inch. So being the visual, detail-oriented people that we are, perfect placement takes some serious time.
With the carpeting and units in place, each little neighborhood took shape: from our Adult Trade, Gift, and Children’s sections to our distribution partners including Quirk Books, Laurence King, Princeton Architectural Press, Handprint, SmartLab, Blue Apple, Hedonist Guides, etc.
Setup Day 2
To make sure everyone could find the Chronicle Books booth instantly, we designed giant lantern-like billboards to pop up 8 feet above our units. We erected and then covered them with a light-emitting sock-like cover. The guys got to work popping the big metal pipe system together…
Then come the socks! They slip over the top of the frames…viola! Well, some times it’s that simple.
But like the carpet stripes, every once in a while… hiccup! No matter how many times Scott, our Marketing Design Director said, “Wait, that’s backwards, turn it around… keep turning… turn it a little more…”, that one banner just wouldn’t right itself. In the moment of total confusion, Eugene described it best, “Hey guys… we’re not a three ring circus!” Comic relief is always a plus in these situations. I’ll leave that long story aside and just say it took a little more than turning to fix that one.
Setup Day 3
Morning of Day 3 the Village construction was done. Shelves were installed, cleaned, and ready to be populated with the help of 20+ Chronicle elves. Product arrived in boxes and boxes! And like the carpet and the banner, you really can’t expect absolutely everything to go smoothly. When a book meets a forklift, it’s just not a pretty sight.
Everyone worked together all day, manning their posts, placing their product, making the Fall 07 list look smokin hot!
By Thursday evening the beauty was complete! Bags were hung (thank you, Jack!!), catalogs were stacked (and stacked and stacked), and books and gift products were perfectly on display.
9am sharp. The place filled up quick. The village was complete.
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