Hi Everyone! It’s Becky here. I have spent most of today recovery from our Bickering Book Reviews field trip to New York City for Book Expo of America. We had a complete blast and will share with everyone all of our favorite things from the expo. It was a four day whirlwind of NYC, book signings and ARC grabs. As a first time Book Expo attendee it was a little intense and I thought I would pass along a of the lessons I learned at the expo.
Consider Your Travel Plans Carefully
We decided to drive from Ohio to New York City for convention. It’s only a seven hour drive which seemed totally doable which was true…kind of. Seven hours is way longer when experiencing the drive then it appeared on the AAA Trip Ticket which made for a very long day at the beginning of our trip and at the end. Plus, I just learned that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey. Someone has to come to your car and pump it for you like some kind of service station our of Pleasantville. For some reason this is the most shocking part of our entire five day trip.
Lodging is a complicated problem. You have to weigh cost verses convenience. We elected to stay near the convention center at The Yotel which was on the shuttle line. It was the most inexpensive option available on the shuttle schedule. The hotel was…slightly odd (see photo of the lobby with their Yobot) but also surpassingly nice and I would definitely be willing to stay there again. However, we never figured out the shuttle schedule and ended up walking to the convention center more than once.
Then you have to consider traveling in the city. I am a girl from Ohio. I have driven in big cities but New York is THE Big City. I drove in and out of the city through the Lincoln Tunnel and that tiny portion of NYC driving left me jittery and clutching the steering wheel. We opted for a subway pass that met our needs for the most part and cost less than $40.
Talk to People
You will spend a lot of time in line with strangers at BEA. But these are strangers who have taken time out of their lives to go to a place that celebrates books. If you are at BEA these are your people. Talk to them! I spent most of my time waiting to meet the famous book people talking to book lovers from all over the world and I learned A LOT of Book Expo hints (some of which I am sharing with you). These people know how to work the expo and they are willing to share their secrets. You have to be a willing student.
The Importance of the Baggage Check and the Wheelie Suitcase
I had read in several places online that you should take a wheelie suitcase to the Expo. I chose to ignore this bit of advice…I was very wrong. You will be handed many, many things as you walk through the convention center which you will eventually need to haul back to your hotel. This would have been so much easier if I could have wheeled my goodies instead of having to carrying them into the hotel. These books weight more than expected and you do not want to be dragging them down 10th Avenue.
Now it’s time for the best advice I received in an autograph line chat. There is a brilliant invention called bag check. This is how it works: the first thing you do when you reach the convention center is check your bag then throughout the day you dash to bag check to drop off your newly acquired swag. I didn’t know to do this at the beginning of the first day but by noon I had checked a tote bag full of ARCs and my shoulder was oh so thankful. Best $3 I ever spent.
Have a Schedule (And Do Everything That is Offered)
Having a schedule is the only way to survive Book Expo. I had carefully gone through the autograph area and in booth signing schedules and made a list of who I wanted to meet. However, as a BEA newbie I didn’t know about the importance of the galley release schedule. What is the galley release scheule you ask? Well, each publisher has schedule of when they will release new ARCs for the masses. This is possibly the most valuable info at the convention. And it is actually quite easy to obtain. There are schedules at almost every publish booths available for anyone who asks in easy to carry flyers form. But if you want to get to the convention early and pre-game your plan there are many people standing around handing out copies of Publisher Weekly that has all of this information printed in it’s pages. (Now, here is my embarrassing confession…I accepted a copy of this publication to be polite and crammed it into a tote bag without looking at it. It wasn’t until the second day that found out the important role PW plays at the Expo).
The Myth of Free Books
Everyone talks about all the free books you will get at BEA and this is partly true. First, this is in no way free. The convention costs $150 for librarians to attend and that’s not including travel, lodging, and food expenses. Plus, there are very few free BOOKS. I think I only walked away with 4 actual books with one of those being the book written by William Daniels or as I will always know him: Mr. Feeny (please see the side photos). Mostly, you will receive ARCs which are uncorrected proofs of books. These are awesome and I’m super excited to read the new Maggie Steivater novel. But you have to remember that these are not perfect. The author and editors are still working to make a better product, some are going to be rough. Plus, you can not resell or add these ARCs to your library catalog. Basically, if you are going to leave New York with dozens of new ARCs you may want to have a plan in place for what to do with them once they have been read.