10 Things I Learned at BEA
According to their website, “Book Expo America is the largest gathering of booksellers, librarians, retailers, publishers, rights, licensing, and book industry professionals in North America.” It is a three-day event with Bookcon closing it up on day four.
It is usually held in New York but, for several reasons, this year it was held in Sweet Home Chicago, at McCormack Place. This was my first year attending BEA and let me just say I was totally overwhelmed and unprepared. But I did manage to learn a few things, and here they are:
10. BEA is frickin’ huge! It is bigger than my inner book geek could even imagine. All of the major publishing houses have booths where they showcase the newest and greatest titles they have releasing in the upcoming year. And that’s just a portion of what BEA is about. There is an autographing stage, stores selling bookish swag, booths for authors who are self-publishing their books, and a comic book/graphic novel area, just to name a few.
9. There is a lot happening at BEA that is just not interesting to non-industry people. For me this is all fun and excitement, but there are a lot of publishers etc. there actually working. And it’s ok because there is still plenty to do. There was a whole section devoted to international books and on day one I got so turned around I was literally lost in the China section for a good 10 minutes. Later when talking to a blogger we laughed about how she was stuck in Poland.
8. Publishers really do give you tons of books. For free. My haul over three days was close to 200 books (crazy, right?). And don’t get me started on the massive amount of tote bags I came home with.
7. Have a plan, but know that if your 1:00pm event is in booth 2200 your 2:00pm event is guaranteed to be in booth 800. People who say to wear comfortable shoes are just lying to you. Even my comfiest shoes made my feet hurt by the end of the day. I made my 10,000 step goal by 1:00pm every day.
6. Bring a suitcase! The key to surviving BEA is doing “drops” throughout the day. This is a fancy way of saying, “Holy crap I need to put these books somewhere or I am not going to make it.” On day one I did not bring a suitcase and I really regretted it. I had a backpack and three tote bags that were all completely full of books that I had to carry around. So, bring a suitcase, preferably on wheels, check it in the coat check, and make as many drops as you can throughout the day.
5. BEA is very crowded but I call it the Disneyland of the book industry. Everyone is super helpful and friendly. Several times I would randomly join a long line, not knowing what it was for, and usually after a few minutes I would casually ask, “what’s this line for?” And no one ever laughed at me! And people were always excited to talk to you about what fun thing was happening that day.
4. Some authors are just not friendly. It is what it is. Don’t let it discourage you from reading their book. Just assume they are having a bad day and don’t judge the book by its cover (see what I did there?)
3. YA is taking over the world. Teenagers are excited about reading again, and if anyone tells you the book industry is dying they are wrong. It made my heart swell to see so many people so excited about books! Listen up people! Bookies are here to stay!
2. You will wait in lines. Sometimes really long lines. But you will also talk to amazing people in those lines and that makes it all worth it. I had some of the most amazing conversations with people who I have never met before and some that I may never see again.
1. Kenny Loggins! He was at BEA promoting his new children’s book Footloose and performed a two-song concert including a revamped version of “Footloose.” People were arriving in droves to dance and sing along with the familiar chorus. I don’t know why I thought I was the only one looking forward to seeing him, but I think he owes a big thank you to Archer for his revitalized fame.
Even though I was exhausted at the end of every day I feel so lucky to have been a part of BEA and I hope I am lucky enough to be there again next year.
For more of the amazing things that happened at Book Expo America, as well as other great conventions and events our team has attended this year, check out our Project-Nerd Tour 2016 Page and the Project-Nerd Tour Category.