The International Reading Association’s annual conference has been steadily declining in attendance (and thus importance to vendors) for several years now. From a draw of 20,000 attendees the show now attracts less than 8,000. From a content standpoint it remains a top drawer event. That isn’t the focus of this piece. I’m making a more mercenary assessment of the event from a marketing perspective.
Reading Language Arts remains the single biggest segment of instructional materials spending (over 60%). Exploring why the show at the heart of the education market is getting smaller should reveal some telling lessons for vendors evaluating how they go to market these days.
This year’s exhibit traffic was considerably better than last year’s, but the show floor was still a shadow of its former glory. Vendor booths barely filled 70% of the exhibit hall and other than a couple of the major publishers (notably Scholastic) most companies were taking less space than they did even 2-3 years ago.