I am extremely lucky to live on the East Coast of the U.S. where it’s a relatively quick trip up to New York City and the annual Book Expo America (“BEA”). BEA is the largest annual book trade fair in the U.S, with booths and representatives from nearly all major U.S. publishing houses (and a fair amount of international ones as well). It’s an amazing opportunity to preview upcoming titles, learn about industry trends, and to socialize with colleagues in the publishing industry.
This was my third year attending BEA and the BEA Blogger Conference as a book blogger. It was also the first year of BookCon (more on that later).
I started by BEA 2014 adventure Wednesday morning with author Maureen Johnson’s keynote to BEA Bloggers. Maureen was funny, engaging and supportive of book bloggers. I then attended back to back panels for bloggers with 1-3 years experience, DESIGN 101: CREATING A PICTURE PERFET BLOG and SOFTWARE 101: BEST BLOGGING TOOLS. I found both of these sessions informative and helpful since I am still a blogging novice. You can expect to see some changes here at the Polished Bookworm thanks to what I learned!
Afternoon sessions included an introduction to video blogging (“Vlogging”) and podcasting, both interesting ways to add variety to blog content. I missed the controversial panel that was supposed to focus on “How Bloggers Have Changed the Game” and instead focused on a “vlogger” and her relationship with a publisher. I’ve heard it was rather dismissive of traditional book blogs and was not well received. During all that kerfuffle, I was happily attending ENGAGING YOUR READERS: TAKE YOUR WRITING to the NEXT LEVEL, which was as interesting and engaging as all other sessions I was fortunate to attend.
BEA Bloggers 2014 was the most informative book bloggers conference BEA has held that I have attended. That being said, I’m not certain I will be attending BEA Bloggers next year. My attendance with depend on the proposed panels and what I can personally gain from them. The highlight of BEA Bloggers was, as always, meeting and interacting with other book bloggers.
Book Expo America (BEA)
BEA began in earnest on Thursday at 9am. There were highs, there were lows, there were plenty of sore feet.
The best way for me to recap the experience is to offer my own “BEST OF BEA AWARDS” (and one worst):
Best Customer Service
Sourcebooks was first booth I encountered on the first day of BEA and they set the bar for customer service excellence exceptionally high. Everyone working in their booth over the three days of BEA was knowledgeable, engaging, and helpful. I shouldn’t be surprised, the quality of the Sourcebook representatives match the quality of their books: exceptional.
Every time I stated to drag, a visit to the smiling faces of the Harlequin booth cheered me up. I could have stayed and talked with their representatives the entire day. The autograph lines were organized and everyone was unfailingly polite. I don’t know if it’s because they all love what they do, or the fact they’re a Canadian company. ;)
Best Combination of Books, Wine and Chocolate
Forever Romance hosted a lovely reception at the close of the first day of BEA. I indulged in a nice glass (or two) of wine and got to meet several wonderful authors, including Cecilia Tan and Kristen Ashley, and partook of the most amazing display of chocolate covered extravagance. There were chocolate dipped Oreos!
Best Book Drops
One of the most exciting aspects of attending BEA is the opportunity to receive free copies of upcoming titles, either Advance Reader Copies (“ARCs”) of books that have yet to be published or ones that are finished but not yet in stores. The atmosphere for certain books can be absolute pandemonium! When handled properly, it’s a painless, satisfying experience. Penguin did it right. Penguin provided a list of galley drop times, they opened the, boxes, stacked the books and got out of the way. People proceeded by in an orderly fashion and picked up what they wanted. No muss, no fuss, no stampedes. Kudos for their use of the open Atrium space outside the exhibit hall for extra space.
Best Organization of Author Autographing
Random House could teach classes to their colleagues in the publishing industry on how handle author autographing (and book drops). Might I suggest HarperCollins as their first client (chaos!). Everything at Random House ran smoothly, their staff kept the lines moving and the people waiting were kept informed. They used a combination of signs and tickets that prevented people from being about to jump into line at a break point. I really appreciated how the staff communicated with each other, as well as the layout of their exhibit space. At one point I joined a line that already wrapped completely around the booth yet it took me only 30 minutes to get to the front, meet the author and get my book signed. Efficiency – one of my favorite things!
Best Fangirl Moment
This one is NOT easy, but I’m going to have to give it to meeting author Loretta Chase. I was so very lucky to meet many authors I admire and enjoy (Sylvia Day, Tiffany Reisz, Rainbow Rowell top my list). However, Loretta Chase is going to top my fangirl list this year. I was listening to the audiobook of her classic romance Lord of Scoundrels on the ride to NYC and I was reminded of the lyrical quality of her work, not to mention the humor and heat; she’s a truly special talent. Plus: I got an autographed copy of her latest book, Vixen in Velvet, which isn’t in stores until June 24. :)
Nails: The Story of the Modern Manicure by Suzanne E. Shapiro (Prestel). The publisher of this gorgeous book even gave me a custom OPI nail polish with my review copy. You’ll be hearing more about this book from me!
Best Use of Advertising
The Young World by Chris Weitz (Little, Brown and Company, 07/29/2014). The surfaces of the ladies restroom featured advertisements for this new book featuring a “post-apocalyptic NYC overrun with berserkers, banditos, and tribes of teenagers.” The ads were witty and made me look into a book that otherwise would not have been on my radar. What can I say? I appreciate potty humor. Must stem from having so many boys in the house.
Best Preparation for BookCon
Macmillan wins BookCon. The third day of BEA was combined with a new venture BookCon. I suppose organizers are trying to create a sort of ComicCon for books. All I know is it added an additional 10,000 attendees to less than half the exhibit space. It was cramped and chaotic – except in the area set aside by Macmillan for BookCon. The publisher kept their usual booth in the BEA exhibit space and opened a second exhibit area with interactive events, such as a photo booth and book recommendations. Honorable mention to Penguin for their use of the open Atrium space outside the exhibit hall for extra space.
Worst Idea at BEA
BookCon. Okay, maybe not the worst idea, just the worst execution of an idea. The portion of the exhibit hall that was set aside for BookCon attendees was crowded and confusing. BookCon attendees complained they could not go to entire exhibit space. BEA attendees were offered few galley drops or author interactions on the solely BEA side, with booths all but abandoned. The sessions were interesting but overcrowded; I know of few BEA attendees who were able to gain entrance to BookCon sessions (nor did many have the patience to try). Maybe add a separate BookCon day next time?
Best Thing About BEA
The people! Every year I reunite with friends and meet all sorts of amazing people: authors, bloggers, publishers. And the whole time I get to talk about books! Free books, great people and no laundry, my kind of party!
Now that the swelling in my feet has gone down and I’m recovered from my post-BEA hangover, I can safely say, “I can’t WAIT until next year!” I’d love to hear about other attendee’s experiences. Good or bad, please share!