29 May 2010

New York City - Day 1 - The Arrival

I can't believe that I haven't posted anything about New York City yet. Well, if you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you probably know quite a bit about my trip, but for my avid blog readers (hi Mom) I will divulge a bit more of my experience in the big apple.

OK, we landed in Newark, NJ in the late afternoon on Sunday - our limo driver was waiting with our name on a card, just like in the movies only our card also had our logo on it! Danté was our driver's name and a fitting one at that, considering it's use in literature and that we were heading to the BEA (Book Expo America). Danté was a fun guy and was pretty knowledgeable about the city, which was appreciated as we'd never been to New York before.

The one hour drive went by quickly as there was so much to see on the way to our hotel - it took an hour because of all the traffic, despite it being Sunday, the roads were full. We arrived at our hotel through the back entrance (unbeknownst to us there wasn't much of a front entrance). The hotel was the Crowne Plaza, and it is located in the heart of Times Square, on Broadway there is a sliver of an entrance with an awning, it's easy to miss - but behind the tacky tourist shops and billboards is a rather nice hotel. Upon checking in, we were asked if we were afraid of heights, an unusual question by any standard - we said no, at which time, we were placed in a room on the 46th floor, the penthouse. In Calgary, there would only be about 5 buildings taller than this... in New York, well, let's just say we weren't the biggest kids on the block.

Our room looked out over the Hudson River and Hell's Kitchen, where we ate on our first night in New York - the restaurant was called Taboon and was absolutely delicious. We walked to and from the restaurant which was about 10 blocks away - it was a beautiful night. At this dinner were Wayne Logan, Jeff Buick, Celia Rushford, my wife and me.

Being new to New York and walking through the various streets, one of the things that I noticed were the very strong smells, some good, some bad... they changed about every 5-10 feet or so. After being there for a couple of days, I didn't notice it the way I did on the first two nights... but it was very much something that I will associate with the experience. There are no alleys in New York City, at least none that I found - land is too precious a commodity to waste the space - buildings are backed right onto each other and no space is wasted. We saw some 50 floor buildings that were 15-20' wide at the base.

We've all seen New York on TV and in the movies and it's citizens are often portrayed as rude and abrasive - this could not be further from the truth. From the locals that I met, and I met quite a few, they were kind, generous (with their time) and very much down to earth. I felt safe walking about and approaching people for directions. Great people. And, fit too. The average New Yorker walks 5 miles a day I was told, and I believe it - my pedometer was off the charts every day.

I visited numerous places and took in two tours, but most of my trip was business; Going to the BEA to learn more about the future of publishing as well as to secure a partner in distribution of our first title, One Child. For the most part, we're new to the publishing industry, which from some established view points may be considered a minus, but we believe our business model and our approach to releasing books will be revolutionary. We've already got large commitments from retailers based on our unique marketing strategy and feel that our first book will turn some heads. We anticipate a line up to work with us on our second book... which is already underway.

After walking back to the hotel, we decided to wander around Times Square for a bit - very interesting. Madison Avenue is kept busy with these billboards alone, some 12 floors high - and they change out about 3 every night. We visited many of the tacky shops and took some pictures - like everyone else in Times Square, we were tourists.

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