Last week, I attended Book Expo America (BEA) for the first time! Earlier this week, I reviewed the BEA Bloggers Conference (in short, it was very disappointing). I thought I’d give a little run-down of the expo!
BEA is the largest annual book trade fair in the US, held each year in New York City. Publishers come to promote their upcoming titles; other book industry people come to share their products and services; and librarians, booksellers, and bloggers come to learn about the hot new books coming out in the next few months. Basically, it’s three days of celebrating books with other people who love them.
For me, BEA started right after the Bloggers Conference. Rory and I ducked out of the blogger celebration early to attend the BEA Editor’s Buzz Panel on Wednesday evening. We learned about seven upcoming titles that their editors are really excited about, and at the end of the panel, there was a mad dash as the hundreds of people in the room converged on the two tables upon which ARCs of the buzz books were laid out. I had no idea book people could be so violent! There were some serious elbows flying as people fought to get their hands on galleys. Luckily, Rory and I managed to emerge from the melee unscathed.
On Thursday, the BEA show floor officially opened. Rory, Shannon, and I met up with Marisa and got to the Javits early enough to line up in front of the entrance. Once on the floor, I was surprised by how easy it was to find my way around, and it wasn’t as crowded as I expected. We made the rounds of the publisher booths, gathered some galleys, and turned down a lot of tote bags. We didn’t have much planned for the day, and it was nice to take it easy. Around lunch time, we made the short 15-minute walk back to our hotel to deposit our books and have a leisurely lunch before heading back to the convention. In the afternoon, we did more wandering and attended the BEA Selects Literary Fiction panel, where we learned about some promising upcoming releases.
Friday was a bit more hectic than Thursday, with longer lines and more crowded aisles. Once again, we took it easy in the morning, picking up more books and attending a few in-booth signings. Our one big plan for the day was to attend Meg Wolitzer’s signing of her new YA novel, Belzhar. Anticipating a crazy line, we got to the signing area an hour early — too early, in fact to actually get in a line. However, we were in the perfect position to be at the front of the line when it finally started half an hour later. We were among the first people to meet Ms. Wolitzer and get our books signed. I was a total babbling fangirl, but she could not have been any nicer. (My heart grew three sizes that day.)
Since we were out of Meg Wolitzer’s signing so early, Shannon and I decided to try our luck with the David Mitchell signing while Rory went to get a different book signed. For some odd reason, Mr. Mitchell’s signing was in the Random House booth instead of the signing area, and it was MADNESS. I’m just going to let you read this amazing Book Riot post about it instead of trying to describe the horror and disorganization. The short story is that we decided to cut our losses and attend the “Great Book Club Titles for Fall/Winter 2014 –Speed Dating” session.
Yes, you read that right: speed dating for books! We had to sign up for this session before the conference, and when we arrived we were assigned table numbers. I sat at a table with about 10 other people, and the table was COVERED in stacks of books. Reps from different publishing houses rotated to all of the different tables, speed-dating style, to tell us about their upcoming book club picks. And then we got to take all the books we wanted. It was heaven, and I learned about some books I’m really excited to read in the upcoming months!
After speed dating, I booked it back to the hotel to pack up and get the books I couldn’t fit in my luggage to the post office (because I was silly and only brought a backpack and a carry-on bag with me). Then I hoped on a train to the airport, ate a $13 margherita pizza near my gate, took a nap on the plane, and arrived home at 11:30. I had just enough time to get a good night’s sleep before getting up to attend a wedding on Saturday! (It was beautiful.)
With the exception of the Bloggers Conference, I had a really fantastic time at BEA. In addition to learning about new releases and bringing home a big stack of books, it was wonderful to meet bloggers that I know online and to meet new bloggers that I’m excited to follow. (Hi Shannon of River City Reading, Rory of Fourth Street Review, Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Florinda of the 3 R’s Blog, Marisa of The Daily Dosage, Kelly of Read Lately, and Kerry of Entomology of a Bookworm! It was lovely to meet all of you!)
And, of course, I couldn’t resist making a Doge meme to sum up my experience of BEA and share the tote bags, books, and Amy Poehler fortune cookie I picked up!
Check back for rundowns of the books and parties of BEA!