Ringer Spy Garfeimao has been attending the giant Book Expo America the last couple of days. If you want to find out the LoTR book, bookmark and calendar goodies that the publishing houses are planning to release, read on!

Day One

Book Expo America (BEA), which is the annual convention for Publishers and Booksellers started, Friday, May 30. It’s a giant trade show, with books as the trade, which makes it pretty special in my opinion. Nearly every publisher in the country shows up, and so booksellers from all across the US go to see the new books coming out, and walk away with a mint in pre-released versions of hundreds or even thousands of books. With hundreds of authors in attendance as well, it truly becomes a literary feeding frenzy at times for new books, autographs, tote bags, shirts, and other little promotional freebies.

Now, because I’m the Lord of the Rings fangirl that I am, I spent a good portion of my day visiting the various Lord of the Rings licensees. The Los Angeles Convention Center has two main halls, and BEA takes up both halls, most of the meeting rooms, and some of the smaller theaters as well. We started on the Low number side, and were able to find CEDCO (calendars and journals) and Antioch (those way cool bookmarks) very early on. Both booths featured Lord of the Rings items prominently with their multitudes of other products.

I had a very nice discussion with the Antioch people about some very cool bookmarks that should be coming. These are the people who had the Rings on the bookmarks last year, and this year put the variety of beads on, such as leaves, Balrog head, Eye of Sauron, etc. In fact, they may not do that with the Return of the King series of bookmarks, because so many people just love the Ring, and the others don’t do quite as well. I don’t know about you guys, but I love the Salamander on Grima’s bookmark, and the Horse heads on the Rohan bookmarks are just cool.

Anyhow, I forgot to get the actual release date, but I intend to rectify that tomorrow. Same holds true with the CEDCO people, I forgot to get details on new designs and release dates, but will do so tomorrow. They have some very lovely designs now for the journals and addressbooks, with gold leafed designs in elvish, or the Moria gate image, or some pictures of Frodo and Arwen on them.

So, after the initial rush into the South hall, gathering up four or five canvas bags full of books, and visiting Antioch and CEDCO, I left for the West hall. Stopped at the car to unload the books I’d gathered before my arms fell off, then made the very long trek across Pico blvd to the other hall. As I came down the ramp into the lobby of West hall, my eyes fell on Gandalf the White astride Shadowfax and a giant Orthanc tower. The Tower was put up by Wrebbit, the Puzzle Innovators, who do the 3D puzzles and the standard interlock puzzles. The Gandalf on Shadowfax was put up by Houghton Mifflin, and served to let me know they were going to be a big presence this year. Woohoo.

After taking a few photos with the statues (I had to, the Gandalf had been at the New York World Premiere of The Two Towers – I’m such a geek) I hurried into the West Hall. I didn’t really need to know which number aisle Houghton Mifflin was, because they had a giant Black and Gold sign above their space announcing their name and Lord of the Rings. As I approached the booth, I ran smack dab into the giant Ringwraith statue that has been known to frequent certain Oscar Parties. Lurtz was nowhere in site, he is probably on his way to the Gaming event in Ontario tomorrow. I also ran into several of the staff I met last year, hello Christina and Bridgette. Clay was nowhere in sight, and was sorely missed by the staff who were there. By the way, Clay, everyone says hello, and there was a nice little sign, but got erased with everything else.

I got a little sneak at some of the new products coming out, mostly (to be released) on November 5, such as a book full of the Maps of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, illustrated by John Howe. There will be a collectors edition of the one-volume hardcover Lord of the Rings with the Bilbo and Gandalf Bag Eng bookends from Sideshow/WETA. A boxed set of the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide from Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. This set is designed to be the essential reference works all readers and students. The Return of the Kings companion books will include a Visual Companion from Jude Fisher, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum edited by Brian Sibley with Andy Serkis, LOTR: Weapons and Warfare from Chris Smith with John Howe and finally, The Return of the King Photo Guide edited by David Brawn. There will be a 12-copy paperback edition floor display with the new release of the one-volume paperback with an Eowyn standee. The one-volume paperback will have all-new cover art with color endpaper maps and flaps to open up for larger size.

All in all, it looks like it will be a nice year for Lord of the Rings-related books from Houghton Mifflin. In the afternoon, they handed out their now-famous book bags. I love their book bags, they have some of the best of the whole show, and have had so for the past two years. And then it was back into the fray and gathering more books, bags, shirts, posters, and autographs in the giant signing area. Two more days of this, and then I sleep for a full day.

Day Two

Okay, here is some of the missing information from yesterday. CEDCO will be releasing their 2004 Calendars sometime in July/August, and it will be Two Towers images. There are no plans for additional images on journals and planners at the moment beyond existing images. They don’t know at the moment if they will be doing a Return of the King calendar for 2005, but it won’t happen until next year either way.

As to Antioch, they have two releases this year. One is scheduled to be tied in with the DVD release. This will include some very special, more expensive bookmarks, which fold out images and the like. This will be in August, leading up to the release of the theatrical release of the DVD. In November, they will release a whole new line of Return of the King images, all with Rings.

I guess they overestimated how cool it would be to have personalized beads on the tassles of the bookmarks. Personally, I like the variety, but it appears the gold rings were the most popular of the bunch.

The most popular items to get at the Book Expo appear to be the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix baseball caps from Scholastic, and the black canvas tote bags for the Lord of the Rings from Houghton Mifflin. Actually, Tote bags in general tend to be very popular because after picking up 20 books within 200 feet, the totes begin to look very good, no matter their color or style. That’s why I ended up with anywhere from three to seven totes on my shoulders, all with 20 to 40 pounds of books in each, at any given time during the weekend. I hurt from head to toe already, and there’s still one more day to go.

As to which authors and special guests can be found at this convention, think everyone who has bothered to write in the past year or so. There are actors here, such as Jeff Bridges, Jane Seymour and Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as cartoonists such as Bill Amend (Foxtrot, and he says hello to Michael Regina – Xoannon), and Jim Davs (Garfield turned 25 this year). There are comic book artists such as Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Howard Chaykin, Paul Dini, and our own little Colleen Doran, who chatted away with fans today.

The list of authors includes Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Lemony Snicket, Neal Stephenson, Coach John Wooden, newcomer Jonathon Stroud, Brian Lumley as a surprise drop-in, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, Alice Sebold, and Julie Andrews. And there were so many more, but you cannot be in the South hall, the West Hall, and the downstairs autograph area at the same time. So you learn the fine are of prioritizing authors and special guests to seek. Tomorrow, I hope to have time to visit more of the actual publishers exhibits without the autograph or book grabbing frenzy.