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Blacks Showcase at Book Expo 2016 In Chicago

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, founder of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, a public relations firm, and The African American Children's Book Project

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, founder of The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, a public relations firm, and The African American Children’s Book Project

by Kai EL’Zabar

BookExpo America (BEA) 2016 is hosted in Chicago this week Wednesday May 11 through  Friday May 13 at McCormick Place. It  is the #1 book and author event for the book industry.  It’s the best place to discover new titles, authors, and education about the publishing industry. It is a dynamic environment for networking, sourcing, and relationship building within publishing in North America.

One of the gems at the Book Expo is the AALBC–African American Literature Book Club) represented by its founder Troy Johnson.  Started in 1997, today the AALBC.com is a widely recognized source of author profiles, book and film reviews, book recommendations, event information, discussion forums, writer resources, interviews, articles, videos, and more.  AALBC targets primarily a middle-aged African-American female demographic. It previously sold books through the Amazon.com affiliate program, and then started to operate its own warehousing and distribution program. It is the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited, web site dedicated to books by or about people of African descent. For more information about . . http://aalbc.com/aboutus.htm

Troy Johnson, founder of AALBC chats with Kai EL'Zabar at the Black Pack meet and greet reception in Chicago at Norman's Bistro to welcome Black authors

Troy Johnson, founder of AALBC chats with Kai EL’Zabar at the Black Pack meet and greet reception in Chicago at Norman’s Bistro to welcome Black authors.


It is a ten year tradition that Troy hosts a reception-The Black Pack Party the evening of the first day of the Book Expo. Expected attendees are authors, publishers, publicists, Book vendors, editors, literary agents, educators, book store owners. The 2016 event took place at Norman’s Bistro and was a packed house. On hand was WVON on the scene sharing a Blue Moon moment. 

Troy Johnson will be on hand Thursday  to share his insights and talk about Black books, Black readers and what it all means in today’s literary world.  

Another major player, Literary consultant and multicultural children’s literature advocate Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati ( produces the largest and oldest African American Children’s Book Fair in the country) and host of the WURD-AM Literary Diva segment will be on hand as moderator at the African American’s Children’s Books  panel.

While Vanesse is no stranger to the world of literature she says that she remains excited about this world she’s helped to create, in particular introducing children to the importance of reading books, introducing Blacks to authors and their books, and and the importance of supporting  Black authors by purchasing their works and reading them.  Vanesse says,  “I’m a literary consultant and have extensive experience in doing book-driven events. My company, The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants, has produced events all around the country under the banner of The Literary Café™ for adult authors.”

She was inspired because she saw the void that was necessary to be filled. “I looked around the community and saw wonderful book-driven events for adults, but nothing for our children. I asked around town and kept hearing that Black people don’t buy books for their children. I was horrified because I knew that in my circle, people bought books for their kids. This simply wasn’t true. I was on a mission,”…and the rest is history. 

Black children still read if you teach them

Black children still read if you teach them

Vanesse says, “So on a cold, frosty morning we produced the first event and they came — I counted them — 250 strong.  Marie Brown, a literary agent, helped me put together my line-up of authors and illustrators. Most came from her client list. People brought books, not one but numerous copies. On the way out, they kept asking me when the next event was. Twenty-four  years later she is  still going strong. On average over 3,500 people pass through our doors annually. Today many of those same people attend the event with their grandchildren. Children who developed a love of reading at our event are now adults bringing their own children.”

At the Book Expo she hopes to bring the ambience and essence of  The African American Children’s Book Project to Chicago and share it with all those who have come from far and near.


Black boys read too.

Black boys read too

There is strong demand for YA books that feature African American character. The panel will discuss their books and the appeal of these titles to all readers.

MODERATOR – Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati – Founder The African American Children’s Book Project & The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants:

Christine Kendell – author Riding Chance (Scholastic Books)

Denene Millner – Agate Publishing contributing editor of Denene Millner Books and author of “Early Sunday Morning.”


African American Women represents the highest percentage of readers according to the Pew Research Center’s study – A Snapshot of On Reading In America. A panel of industry professionals will discuss this study, how to find this reader, what they buy and the lack of books that service this demographic.

MODERATOR – Troy Johnson – President AALBC.COM


Regina Brooks – CEO Serendipity Literary Agency and author

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati – CEO The Literary Media and Publishing Consultants

Ken Smikle – President Target Market News

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