Literary Agents, Editors Convene at U.S. Book Show, Barnes & Noble CEO to Keynote

Literary Agents and Editors Talk Books, Rights and How They Can Collaborate
James Daunt

NEW YORK—May 1, 2023—Literary agents will gather at the U.S. Book Show to discuss the essence of their craft, which is selling book, film and other rights on behalf of writers, authors and rights-holders, and to meet with editors and other publishing professionals about best practices and the state of the industry. Ten thought-provoking panels will feature 35 agents, editors and publishers to gnaw on issues from copyright to auctions, metadata to audiobooks, bestsellers to burnout. James Daunt, the CEO of Barnes & Noble, will present the midday keynote on the topic of the state of bookselling, the company’s current initiatives and how Barnes & Noble’s plans for the future will impact the publishing industry.

Curated by the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), the daylong program for those who work in book publishing is an in-person event that takes place during the U.S. Book Show on Tuesday, May 23, 2023; the event is also livestreaming for a virtual audience. Andrea Chambers, associate dean of the Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts (PALA), NYU School of Professional Studies, and Jennifer Weltz, president of AALA, will give opening remarks.

“Our goal is for conference attendees to leave with a wealth of practical insights and actionable takeaways that they can leverage to offer their clients the highest level of representation,” said Regina Brooks, AALA vice-president and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency. “We also envision networking opportunities to foster relationships within the publishing community that will lead to new business and collaborations. We can’t wait to see the impact this experience will have on literary agents’ continued success.”

For the agent-centric morning program, AALA has lined up some of publishing’s heavy hitters. The opening roundtable includes Arthur Levine, CEO of Levine/Querido; Sally Kim, publisher and senior vice-president of Putnam; Karen Rinaldi, publisher and senior vice-president of Harper Wave; and Cindy Spiegel, co-CEO of Spiegel & Grau.

Richard Rhorer, publisher of Simon Element, Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex-Group, and David Walter, executive director of NPD BookScan will have a dynamic discussion about the increasing role data plays in driving book sales and category selections. With audio the biggest growth format, “audiobook whisperer” Scott Sherratt, the producer behind the 2021 Grammy winner for Best Spoken Word (Rachel Maddow/Blowout) will join Anthony Goff, president of Blackstone Publishing, and others to discuss the booming market for audio originals and reveal secrets to what makes a successful audiobook. Also from Simon & Schuster, Kristal Batanjany, director of finance, will present her insights in “Everything Flows Through Sales: Understanding the Acquisition P&L.”

Notable afternoon-session panelists include New York Times Opinion editor Vanessa Mobley, a former book editor who edited three Pulitzer Prize winners; Michelle Aielli, vice-president and associate publisher at Hachette; Alison Rich, senior vice-president of author development at Penguin Random House; Brianna Yamashita, executive director of marketing at Scribner; and Nathalie Ramirez, director of marketing at Zando Projects. Digital marketing takes a star turn with Felicity Vallence, director of digital marketing at Penguin Random House, discussing the rise of BookTok.

The program will tackle a looming issue in publishing, burnout. Publishers that have gone to a four-day work week will discuss their experiences. The panel, “Beating Back the Flames,” will also target ways  agents and editors can work better together to reduce stress and anxiety.

The final panel for agents, editors and publishing professionals, “When the It Hits the Fan,” features writer and transgender activist Charlotte Clymer, of Charlotte’s Web Thoughts, which is a 2023 GLAAD Media Awards finalist for Outstanding Blog, joining Adrian Zackheim, publisher of Portfolio Books and the conservative imprint Sentinel of Penguin Random House, and Lisa Sharkey, director of creative development of HarperCollins.

See the full schedule.

Created for publishing professionals, librarians and booksellers, the hybrid U.S. Book Show, now in its third year, runs May 22–25, 2023 and highlights Fall 2023 books. The in-person segment of the event, May 23–24, 2023, takes place at NYU’s Kimmel Center and will also be livestreaming.

Registration is open for the U.S. Book Show, and early-bird rates are in effect through May 5, 2023. Members of the media and book reviewers may apply for complimentary in-person and/or virtual press passes on the press page.

For more information, contact Christi Cassidy, +1-917-217-4269,

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