What a week… celebrities, New York City, crowds of thousands… and, most of all, books. I spent the week in The Empire State attending the 2011 Book Expo of America, the biggest book industry event in North America. Making the trip with me was beautiful and talented booklover, Alexandra Morton, the sister recently crowned Miss Black America-Baltimore 2011, the Baltimore title winner for the national pageant.
We spent days with a camera crew weaving our way through thousands at the massive Jacob Javits Convention Center on the city’s west side talking with and interviewing authors, celebrities and publishers. The convention floor was packed with thousands standing in line to get books signed by the likes of rapper-actor-author, Ice-T, with his new book, Ice (yes, his wife Coco was there as well dotting about the floor with a girlfriend), and by Clara Villarosa, successful bookstore owner, entrepreneur and author of Down to Business: The First 10 Steps to Entrepreneurship for Women.
The legendary Flavor Flav was in the house, clock and all, promoting his life story,Flavor Flav: The Icon The Memoir, while business mogul and Beating the Odds author, Eddie Brown, founder of Brown Capital Management, signed his own autobiography detailing his rise to lead the country’s oldest African American investment firm with more than $6 billion under management.
Alexandra did on-camera interviews with many, including legendary rapper, Prodigy, whose new tell-all book,My Infamous Life, intimately details his compelling and sometimes-sordid life, incarceration and career as half of Hip-Hop duo, Mobb Deep; with Steve Perry, that outspoken and successful Connecticut school principal featured on CNN’s Black in America series whose upcoming book, Push Has Come to Shove, will be released this September; and with celebrity biographer, Jake Brown, who has written over 30 books on stars ranging from Prince to Tupac, from Rick James to Lil Wayne.
In between, we hung out in the section of the BEA formerly known as “the African-American Pavilion” where writers like Monda Webb, Denise Bolds, Booker T. Mattison, Tamika Newhouse, Bruce Gordon and D. Amari Jackson caught up while some enjoyed wine and munchies brought in by longtime pavilion organizers, Tony and Yvonne Rose. One aisle over, Kwame Alexander entertained as he read with musical accompaniment from his soon-to-be-released, jazz-inspired children’s book, Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band.
On Wednesday evening, after the day’s BEA events wrapped, the 2011 Black Pack Party was held at the Aloft Harlem hotel with over 100 people attending. The event, which this year honored the life of legendary publisher and literary agent Manie Barron who passed away earlier this year, brought prominent black publishers, best-selling authors and book professionals together under one roof with the opportunity to network, kick back and plan for the future.