Publishers, authors, literary agents, retailers and anybody connected to the book industry will converge on Los Angeles May 30- June 1 to attend the giant BookExpo America, and those interested in finding about African American books can visit the African American Pavilion at the Expo.

“This is the largest book trade show in North America. About 80,000 people come every year,” explained Tony Rose, head of Amber Communications Inc., which for the last two years has coordinated and produced the African American pavilion

“When we started (our business in 1994) Third World Press, Johnson Publishing, Just Us Books and maybe one or two others were exhibiting at BookExpo,” explained Rose, adding at that time black folks gathered on the Thursday of the convention to network with one another.

“In 2003, we got together and said why don’t we begin an African American pavilion where we can come together as a group and exhibit. So instead of us being spread out, where people can’t find us, they can come to us all in one place.”

The suggestion became reality in 2004, when Rose’ company joined forces with Adrienne Ingrum L.L.C. and Genesis Press to put together the pavilion. The results have been well worth it,
believes Rose, who said prior to the pavilion’s existence, African Americans attending the Book Expo made up about half a percent of the 80,000 attendees. In 2007, that figure had jumped to 15 percent, and Rose believes the African American Pavilion has become the draw.

“Not only do exhibitors come, but publishers and book sellers. They want to come to the pavilion, and they come to the expo to network. It has become a place to buy and sell (African American books),” added the pavilion organizer.

Rose said the pavilion consists of five rows (more than 80 vendors) of African American publishers and book industry professionals. “There is also a staging area where we have speakers, performances, readings, and this year we will have a special appearance by Denise Nicholas, who has written the book “Freedom Road.”

The pavilion also features food, music, author signings as well as seminars and information on getting into the industry. An exhibitor’s forum is scheduled May 31 from 1-3 p.m., and an award program from 3-5 p.m. the same day will celebrate the achievements of African American publishing professionals including Haki Madhubuti named independent publisher of the year.

Others to be recognized include Self Publisher of the Year, Christian Book Publisher of the Year, Book Store of the Year and Distributor of the Year. The Glenn Thompson Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to Lerone Bennett, author of numerous books including the seminal work “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America,” and Tavis Smiley, who wrote “What I know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America”

George C. Fraser, best selling author and motivation speaker, is the keynote speaker at the awards program.

In the past, seminars have included how to market and sell your book online, and this year’s workshops will feature a presentation by Marcella A. Smith, director of small press and vendor relations at Barnes and Noble.

BookExpo is open to those connected to the industry. This includes librarians, teachers, retailers, publishers, authors and others. The cost of admission ranges from $65 to $225 depending on your profession and how many days you plan to attend. For admission information, visit

Those interested in exhibiting in the African American pavilion can contact Amber Communications at (602) 743-7211 or