Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Would You Participate in a Virtual Trade Show?

This is the first summer in nearly fifteen years I have not attended one summer book show. No BEA, no ALA, no PLA, no ICRS, no RWA, nothing. I really missed getting out of town, seeing friends, and the energy and ideas I usually pick up from a crowded exhibit hall and days filled with 20 minute meetings, but am I any further behind with my business or relationships because I missed the shows? I don't think so. In fact, thanks to Twitter and my favorite industry enewsletters and blogs, I probably know more about what happened at each of those shows than if I attended. I am certainly more connected and aware of what is happening in our industry than ever before. Which got me thinking...

Why doesn't one of industry associations (or heck, why not Ingram or Baker & Taylor or Levy) host a virtual trade show next year? Plan a full schedule of online seminars for retailers and publishers. Allow publishers to host online author events. Set up a virtual exhibit floor where publishers pay for size of their "booth" by the number of titles they feature and location. (If you think location doesn't matter online, explain to me how that stupid Evolution of Dance video remains the most viewed YouTube video of all time). Put a reception desk in each booth where industry people can schedule meetings, drop off business cards, and pick up digital schwag. Provide "meeting space" in each booth for live chats. (In many ways, publisher Web sites should act the same way I suggest for virtual exhibit booths.)

To be really effective, everything would have to be concentrated over two or three days, including a couple marquise events to generate awareness and buzz for getting people to participate within a specific window of time. Yet, one great benefit for exhibitors and attendees (association members) is that the exhibit environment could be accessed or updated any time. As with trade shows now, the bigger or more creative, proactive, and interactive a publisher gets with their exhibit space and products, the more attention they will draw.

I just Googled virtual trade show and a lot of people much smarter and more foward-thinking than me have been doing this for a long time, but who is doing it effectively in the book industry?

If you are a retailer, do you go online to get information about upcoming releases? Where do you go? Where do you go for advice about your business or industry news?

If you are a publisher, would you participate in an online trade show? What creative online events, products, or schwag do you offer now or would want to offer at a virtual trade show?
Would it change how you use your Web site?

1 comment:

Display Booths said...

Excellent post. Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to write it! :)