Last week, I took a break from photographing New York for a new book and instead went and looked at other people's books. Lots and lots of them. I went along to the great, gargantuan, carnivalesque event known as BookExpo America (BEA), the publishing industry's big trade show.
There were 1200 exhibitors in the cavernous space, most of them publishers, and more famous authors than you could shake an e-reader at.
I walked past a gentlemen and thought: That looks like Tom Wolfe. It was. (Image via The Selby)
Ian McEwan and Michael Connelly were signing books, as was Robert Goolrick, one of my favourite new authors. I asked if they had credit card facilities to buy a copy. "Oh, the books here are free!" said the publicist. "Just stand in line." I did. I also nabbed a new James Patterson book, Zoo, that isn't out until September. (That was free, too.) I read it on the flight home. It was pacier than the 747. Barbara Kingsolver gave a talk about something. So too did Stephen Colbert, Zadie Smith, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snickert) and dozens of others. I missed them. I was stuck somewhere in the throng, being offered showbags of new books and wondering if I should buy another suitcase to cart them all home in? No wonder people love it.
There was lots of talk about First Lady Michelle Obama's new garden book American Grown. Michelle wasn't there. But I did see her hubby hot-footing it down Madison Avenue in a cavalcade. Perhaps he was off to buy a copy?
Three publishers featured my books among their displays. When I went to thank them, two didn't believe I was who I said I was. At that moment, shaking my head at the surreal scene of seeing my books on show at this extraordinary place, I didn't even believe who I was! I chatted to the editorial head of a huge French publishing house. "Oh, I've seen your Design in Black and White book!" she said kindly. Then we spoke about possible future projects. I was so humbled. I felt as though I'd landed a private audience with the Pope.
The biggest buzz of the show? The Fifty Shades of Grey series, which is published by a tiny Melbourne publisher and has sold more than 10 million copies. Taking a rest from the page-turning madness, I sat next to a Texas woman who reviews books for a living. She said erotic books will be big in the next few years. I think I might have to start writing erotica soon...
Here are some of the most beautiful new books shown at the show. All are being released later this year.
DIANE KEATON : HOUSEDiane Keaton's memoir, Then Again, was a runaway bestseller. She's now on a roll, with two more books due out soon. House is the first. A beautifully designed project, it's Keaton's portrayal of the way we live now "in rusticated, reimagined, or repurposed spaces across the country". Keaton is an architecture and design lover, as many of you who have seen her homes will know (even the interiors in her films are slavishly copied), and this book taps into her passion for engaging spaces. Certain to be as stylish as its author. Published in Sept. (Rizzoli) (Image of DK via Elle Decor)
ROMAN AND WILLIAMS : THINGS WE MADEI love Roman and Williams. Their loft library (above) is perhaps my favourite space in the world. So I will be waiting like a child at Christmas for their first monograph Things We Made. The talents behind the Ace Hotel, The Standard Hotel, the Royalton's lobby, and the homes of Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Stiller, the duo is arguably the hottest design firm in NY right now. Even Facebook asked them to design the company's food hall. I can't wait to see The Things They've Made. Published in Oct. (Rizzoli)
LA PERLA : LINGERIE AND SEDUCTIONLa Perla is more than just a lingerie brand. It has all the drama of a Federico Fellini film! This new book, Lingerie and Seduction, focuses on La Perla's celebrated and drop-dead (or drop-into-bed) designs. Striking, sumptuous, sophisticated and oh-so-sexy. And the book isn't bad too... Published in Oct. (Rizzoli)
PARIS BY HOLLYWOODThe cover of this caught my eye but it's the concept that I love. So original too. It's a nostalgic volume examining Hollywood's fascination with the City of Light (and cinema). There are seminal films such as An American In Paris, Sabrina and even Woody Allen's studies, plus interviews with Martin Scorsese, Julie Delpy and Leslie Caron. Definitely one to put on the Christmas wish list! Published in Sept. (Flammarion)
KELLY WEARSTLER : CHROMATIC RHAPSODY
I think Kelly Wearstler should take a little break for work for a while. Her insane levels of productivity are making the rest of us look bad! Her latest book, Chromatic Rhapsody, shows off her distinctive 'mod baroque' projects, revealing the decadence and the attention to detail that has made her so famous (apart from her Playboy shoot!) It also follows the designer as she goes about her (very stylish) day. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be Ms Wearstler, buy this book. A fun, behind-the-scenes look at an intriguing design icon. Published in Oct. (Rizzoli)