BookExpo America 2007

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African-American publishing will have a robust presence at this year's BookExpo America.

The revived African-American Pavilion will expand its space and exhibitors, and the annual conference of African-American Book Industry Professionals, set for May 31, will feature appearances by Rep. Charles Rangel and novelist Walter Mosley.

Launched in 2004 in Chicago, the African-American Pavilion at BEA will grow to 80 exhibitors, up from 35 last year. The pavilion, located in the 200 aisle, will expand in size from 4,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet. Amber Communications publisher and pavilion co-founder Tony Rose, who took over direction of the pavilion last year, has been named its executive director and heads a committee that oversees its operations. "Running the pavilion is a year-round job now," said Rose.

Rose credits the growth of the pavilion to an influx of young entrepreneurs (about a third of the exhibitors are self-publishers) who see publishing as a viable career path: "Many young African-Americans begin as self-publishers, learn about marketing and distribution and go on to build a business." Rose said this year's pavilion will feature "less street-lit, more self-help and literature.�

Opening remarks at this year's conference will again be by AAP president Pat Schroeder, and there are a host of events planned. Speakers include Third World Press publisher Haki R. Madhubuti, Harlem Book Fair founder Max Rodriguez and African World Press publisher Kassahun Checole and ZANE. There will also be an awards ceremony.

Organized 10 years ago by former Hue-Man Bookstore owner Clara Villarosa, the African-American Booksellers conference changed its name last year to the African-American Book Industry Professionals conference in an effort to accurately reflect its changing character.

"The conference always attracted a wide range of industry professionals, not just booksellers," said Villarosa. Pre-registration at the one-day event, which features a luncheon, remains around 300.

A publisher-sponsored reception will show off upcoming titles, like Mosley's new book, Blonde Faith, coming this fall from Little, Brown. This year the conference will feature Rangel, interviewed by Newsweek correspondent Marcus Mabry about his memoir And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, out last month from St. Martin's. There's also a panel featuring buyers for the African-American category from Borders and Books-A-Million. According to Villarosa, while independent black booksellers are having a difficult time, "African-American publishing is alive and well right now. There were six or seven black-oriented titles on the New York Times bestseller list this year."

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