ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The queen of best sellers, Judith Krantz, sat demurely in the pink director's chair on the concrete floor of the airplane hanger.
Nearby was an extravagant stage featuring, among other things, a British Spitfire fighter plane, a gilded Parisian salon, a can-can line and a scene of Hollywood-in-the-'40s nightlife highlighted by silver palm fronds.
Krantz, who has written numerous romance novels, was promoting yet another book, 'Till We Meet Again,' due out in September with a first printing of 500,000 and a half-million-dollar advertising and promotion budget.
But Krantz wasn't meeting with America's reading publice Her appearance was at the America Booksellers Association's annual convention, a four-day extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center and a number of satellite locations.
The event, which ended Tuesday, attracted thousands of bibliophiles who were showered with free stuffed animals, candy, pens, notepads, buttons, catalogs and lots and lots of books.
Those who displayed the most foresight lugged along briefly empty suitcases and boxes.
The cavernous convention center was packed each day as American book merchants sampled the wares offered by publishers from around the world.
With 1,800 booths, competition for attention was fierce.
Crown Books had rented the airplane hangar in nearby Costa Mesa to promote 'Till We Meet Againe'
The novel, set in France during World War II, centers on a French girl who marries a diplomat and has two daughters, one of whom ferries aircraft for Britain's Royal Air Force; the other becomes a film star.
Still other books being touted haven't even been completed yet. That was the case with rocker David Crosby's 'Long Time Gone,' coming from Doubleday. Another was the sequel to 'Gone With the Wind,' for which Warner Books paid writer Alexandra Ripley a staggering $4.9 million for hardcover and paperback rights. That book won't be out until 1990.
On the exhibit floor, Sam Angus of Design Look Publishing and his sales staff of one shook hands and tried to compete with publishers who obviously had shelled out thousands of dollars to sell virtually everything that had, even peripherally, to do with paper.
Though the show was not open to the public, throngs of people jammed the aisles clutching plastic and cloth tote bags given away by the publishers.
Piles of advance copies of the most obvious fall best sellers also evaporated quickly. Readers can expect new books from E.L. Doctorow, Barbara Tuchman, Peter Straub, and Anne Tyler, among many others.
New Age publishers were out in force. Small publishers such as The Celestial Arts-Ten Speed Press are competing in this arena head-to-head with the likes of Random House in bringing forth titles aimed at mostly young, affluent readers concerned about past-life regression, crystals and all things mystical.
Many major publishing houses and not-so-major ones were also going after the computer crowd. Software giant Microsoft had a sizable display and some of the bigger publishers had whole catalogs devoted to the subject.
The wealthy publishing houses were not hard to find. The ever-controversial Bridge Publications, publisher of L. Ron Hubbard's 'Dianetics' and 10-volume 'Mission Earth' series, brought in an Indianapolis 500-style track race car and an actor dressed as a warrior from a distant planet.
Warner Books built a psuedo-Egyptian temple that could be seen from most vantage points in one of the four airplane hangar-sized rooms given over to the show.