The Blog

ABTB Goes to New York City and Book Expo America

Jun 9, 2019 | Featured Adventure

Debbie Harpham


Last week, I was fortunate enough to get to travel to New York City and attend Book Expo America 2019. It was my first time to both the city and the trade show, and let me tell you, it was a wild trip.

I spent the weekend before exploring, taking in the sights. I visited museums, ate halal on the streets, rode the subway, and just soaked in the energy of the city. By the time I needed to start preparing for BEA, I was in shock of just how massive the city is and how little I saw of it, despite spending four days nonstop exploring. 

BEA came around, and Susan and I jumped right into it. Three full days of publisher meetings, author signings, and book talks. It was every book lovers dream. We got to listen to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak; I got to meet one of my favorite comic book authors Marjorie Liu for the third time, Jonathan Van Ness (one of my favorite podcasters and stars on Queer Eye) told me he loved my hair, and we got to meet and talk to more authors than I can count right now. The more time I spent in NYC and BEA, the more I became overwhelmed by the expansiveness of everything. And not just the city or trade show themselves, but with the expansive possibilities out there. 

This time last year, I was graduating with my degree from UCSD and I began working full time with ABTB. One of the things that drew me to this job, was all the possibilities. There were no limits to what I could do and all the ways that I could help bring books to life. And this same sense of endless possibilities was reflected back to me in my time in NYC and BEA. New York City is a place of possibilities, and Book Expo was the place where the world of books was laid out in front of us. It was a reminder of all the different directions we can go in and all the exciting things that are waiting for us in the future. Book Expo was a show focused on showing us the most anticipated books in the upcoming year. But for me, it meant so much more. 

I’m so so thankful for my position at ABTB. And I appreciate all of you, Adventurers, every single time I get to interact with you all. So thank you for being so welcoming to me in my first year, and I look forward to all the possibilities that await us in the years to come. 

And lastly, of course, I have to give you all a few highlights from Book Expo, and upcoming books to look forward to:

Ta-Nehisi Coates: This is it! Ta-Nehisi Coates is crossing over into fiction with his first novel, THE WATER DANCER (One-Sale: September 24, 2019). Ta-Nehisi’s upcoming novel, sounds like a beautiful blend of a world filled with magic but with all the very familiar atrocities inflicted on generations of women, men, and children in our world today. This is a story about a young man who was born into bondage and separated from his family, one that will truly transform the reader as they journey through this story. In typical Ta-Nehisi fashion, he truly pushes the limits of what imaginative literature can do. 

Sonia Sotomayor: We were so unbelievably lucky to have been able to listen to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak at this year’s Book Expo. Susan and I were in awe of her talk for days afterwards, and both agree that this was one of the best talks that we had ever attended. Justice Sotomayor lives with Type 1 Diabetes, and is coming out with a children’s book that focus on children with chronic illness. JUST ASK! BE DIFFERENT, BE BRAVE, BE YOU (On Sale September 3, 2019) worked with award-winning artist (and San Diego local!) Rafael Lopez on a book that would encourage children that their differences make themselves and the world more vibrant and wonderful. She has a touching a heartfelt story to tell here, one that I think everyone of all ages will want to read. 

Alice Hoffman: Alice Hoffman has a special talent in creating fairytales and her newest novel is no different. THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW (On-Sale September 24, 2019), is a historical fiction set in 1941 Berlin, and follows Lea, a young girl sent away from her home in fear of the Nazi regime, Ettie, the daughter of a renowned rabbi, and Ava, the magical creature Ettie creates to protect Lea. This is a magical tale of entwined souls, crossed paths, and never-ending love. 

Lupita Nyong’o: Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is working hard to share her message of self-love with the world. She is coming out with her picture book, SULWE (On Sale October 1, 2019) and dives into the themes of colorist, self-esteem, and the true beauty that comes from within. Lupita shared with us her own struggles with colorism, and the effects that it has one countless children and adults just like her. This is a beautiful, magical journey that is sure to open eyes and change lives. 

Jonathan Van Ness: Honestly, Jonathan Van Ness was probably one of the top three people I was excited to meet at Book Expo. If you haven’t heard of him yet, he is currently the Self Grooming Expert on Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye and he has a very successful podcast (one of my favorites!) called Gettin’ Curious. Jonathan is such a kind soul and he just lives to help people be their truest and best selves, and his upcoming book really encompasses this. OVER THE TOP (On-Sale September 24, 2019) is his upcoming memoir, where he tells the story of how he came to become to gorgeous beacon of positivity and joy today. I almost cried just from meeting him, so I can only imagine how emotional I’ll be when I actually read his book. 

Marie Benedict: This is another historical fiction that ABTB is especially excited about. Marie Benedicts upcoming LADY CLEMENTINE (On Sale Janurary 7, 2020) is an amazing novel of one of the most influential women of the 20th century: Clementine Churchill. This incredible woman saved Winston Churchill’s life multiple times and would not back down in dark times. 

Ribbons of Scarlett: Now this is a fun one! Six of historical fiction’s best authors came together to write a novel centered on the women of the French Revolution. RIBBONS OF SCARLET (On Sale October 2019) is split into six parts, which are all written by a separate author. Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight have brought us a breathtaking and epic novel that highlights six unforgettable women during one of the most tumultuous and transformative events in history. And mark your calendars for October 13, 2019, where Kate Quinn will be our keynote at our annual Books & Bingo Adventure!