For my day job, I attend the Book Expo convention every year. A fringe benefit of the show is that I usually manage to spot some notebook vendors and get a look at their new products, but at this year’s show, which occurred last weekend, it was really sparse! Leuchtturm had a colorful corner booth, with their Whitelines collaboration prominently highlighted. Filofax/Letts/Lamy had a shared booth, and seemed to be pouncing on anyone who showed the least bit of interest, perhaps just to keep their samples from being stolen. Moleskine was totally absent, other than their name being permanently emblazoned on part of the Chronicle booth (their distributor). Exaclair wasn’t there, nor was Peter Pauper Press, Cavallini, or Piccadilly– all companies I’ve seen there in the past. Book Expo was where I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks, but this year I didn’t spot a single new or interesting notebook. The only thing that attracted me was the booth of some Italian publisher where I saw that they had a pile of promotional notebooks that they seemed to be giving away. I couldn’t come up with any valid pretext for an actual business conversation with the guy, and was too embarrassed to just walk up and say “hey, can I have a free notebook?” I spotted one other promotional notebook giveaway, from Ingram, the largest book wholesaler. They were offering a notebook that looked like a composition book, but it was a different size, closer to 6×9″, and thinner, with a squared-off spine.
It’s a shame I didn’t manage to photograph these things, but sadly, you’re not missing much! I hope there will be better pickings next year… and in the meantime, maybe I’ll manage to attend the Stationery Show someday. I suppose most notebook companies feel like it’s not worth paying to hawk their wares to the thinning ranks of booksellers and prefer to attend a show with more potential buyers of non-book product. But at least Book Expo is still a fun place to talk about books! They are opening it up to more and more activities for the general public, now called “BookCon,” so if you’re a reader, and you will be in NYC at the end of May next year, you should check it out!