Nelson puts fairs 'under review'

<p>US publisher Thomas Nelson has no plans to pull out of the Frankfurt Book Fair this year and the London Book Fair next year, after quitting the US trade show Book Expo America (BEA). The publisher told <em>The Bookseller </em>that it was &quot;evaluating&quot; all trades shows, but president and c.e.o. Michael Hyatt said that he did not anticipate any immediate change into how it approaches international fairs.</p><p>He said: &quot;We attend numerous international shows. We will evaluate these on a case-by-case basis. We will continue to attend them, so long as they enable us to connect meaningfully with our customers in the most economical way possible. Currently, we plan to continue participating in both the London Book Fair and Frankfurt.&quot;</p><p>However, the surprise announcement, which came on the eve of the final day of this year&#39;s London Book Fair, is likely to raise questions about the attendance of other publishers at the big trade events. The publisher, by far the largest Christian publisher in the US and also the sixth largest trade publisher, announced yesterday that it was pulling out of BEA, as well as the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), citing economic pressures.</p><p>In a statement, president and c.e.o. Michael Hyatt said the &quot;current economic downturn&quot; had forced it to make the decision. However, responding to early media reports about the move Hyatt played down the economic factors: &quot;It was not the reason for our decision, but it was certainly a catalyst. It is forcing us to re-evaluate the expenditure of every marketing dollar, including how we connect with our customers.&quot; He added: &quot;We have determined that, for Thomas Nelson, these trade shows provide very little return on a very significant investment.&quot;</p><p>Speaking to <em>The Bookseller</em> from their stand at LBF today--ironically part of the BEA collective--Thomas Nelson employees said they had only just received the news, but confirmed that they still had plans to attend both Frankfurt and next year&#39;s LBF.<br /><br />In addition to responding on his own blog, Hyatt has also published a <a href="" target="_blank" title="Tradeshow Q&amp;A">Q&amp;A on the news</a>. He admitted that he did not know if other publishers would follow Thomas Nelson&#39;s lead. &quot;I do know that this has been a consistent conversation among publishers over the past several years. In today&rsquo;s turbulent economy, no one can afford to keep doing things just because they have always done them that way. Everything is under scrutiny.&quot;<br /><br />Speaking from the US, a spokeswoman for Thomas Nelson confirmed that the publisher would lose the deposit already paid to the BEA, but said that it had wanted to assess the success of its own trade show before making the decision. This year&#39;s BEA takes place between 29th May and 1st June. Thomas Nelson&#39;s inaugural &#39;Open House&#39; was held last weekend, and was attended by the publisher&#39;s top 100 Christian retail accounts.</p><p>Comments on Hyatt&#39;s blog have been broadly supportive, however one author said that she would miss meeting Hyatt in person at the fairs.</p>