13 May 2011

Book Blogger Hop: To BEA or Not BEA? That is the Question

Book Blogger Hop

This week's Book Blogger Hop question, sponsored by Crazy for Books each Friday, is as simple as I've ever seen it and technically only involves a one-word answer: Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?  

Yes.  No.  In that order.  

Okay, so I can't leave it at that.  I am a bookseller--an INDIE bookseller, actually, of which I am fiercely proud and I will be attending BEA this year because I am incredibly lucky.  NYC is just a 3.5 hour train ride away from me, I have a friend and former coworker who is offering me her sofa in Brooklyn for as long as I want it, AND I get a free badge for the trade show floor.  So it's affordable and close and there's no reason for me not to attend.  I've got appointments to speak with somebody at most of the major publishers and some of the smaller ones, though I admit I've not yet scored any dinner invitations.  

I work at a great bookstore with a wonderful regional reputation, but when it comes to BEA, we're small fish in a big sea, so I don't necessarily expect any invitations for myself. But I also have a generous boss who is happy to pass on to me any invitations she cannot take advantage of, so it's all good.  And this year my  long-suffering husband is attending BEA as an illustrator, so I'll be happy to spend time with him this year in New York AND shack up in his publisher-sponsored hotel room (thanks, Peachtree!). 

If I could offer one piece of advice to those attending BEA for the first time this year, it would be this: Be Particular.  I know it can be overwhelming with all of the FREE STUFF.  EVERYWHERE. And I know you'll be tempted to take everything that you can.  But really, be particular.  The publishers will certainly thank you for not taking something that you have little intention of ever reading.  But more importantly, your BACK will thank you.  'Cause the dirty little secret is that you have to carry everything around with you.  And then cart it all back home with you.  So just be particular.  You'll still end up with more books than you'll ever have hope to read AND you won't be victim of late-onset scoliosis.  Win-win, see?

Edited to add: Oh, yes.  One of the comments below left the second piece of advice I would offer you: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES.  Not the cute little peep-toes you just picked up.  Not the adorable strappy summer sandal.  We're talking Birkenstock/Keen/Naot/Dansko/Naot comfort here.  Not just flipflops, either!  The Javits Center is notoriously uncomfortable to walk around in all day, and if you're also shouldering the weight of several (dozen) books, then your feet are workin' overtime!


  1. Wow! Everything you said sounds so wonderful. Have a great time. And your advice makes perfect sense, although I imagine it's hard to pass up FREE BOOKS! I wish I could go, but it's not happening this year.

  2. Thanks for the information on what the BEA and BBC are. My son lives in New York City, but it is too late to go if it is this weekend.

    Have fun, and I hope you get lots of goodies you will use.



  3. I promised myself that when I do finally make it to BEA I'll only be looking out for Historical Fiction although I can totally understand the kid in the candy store reaction. I'm like that every time I discover a new UBS I didn't know about. Wishing you and your husband great success at BEA!

  4. And wear comfortable shoes!
    I think most people forget that you have to get those books home. I had over 80 books last year and really hated myself and felt overwhelmed when I got home. I shared with other bloggers so that almost all books got reviewed but I learned my lesson.
    Hope to see you there! My hubby goes with me (hence the 80 books lol)

  5. You're back online! That fact somewhat ameliorates the seething jealousy coursing through my soul at this moment. ;-)
    Enjoy NYC and BEA for us! And, hey, go ahead and pick-n-pack a few choice reads to pass around, wouldja? (kidding, but greedy)
    You're justifiably proud of The Odyssey Bookshop, if the website's contents are any indication, and they're lucky to boast such a knowledgeable, passionate, easy-going bookseller.
    I'm thinking of saving up the dough to go to BEA/BBC next year to network on behalf of the ActionReaders process and ActionReaders.com social network/social change site. Do you see BEA as a good venue for that sort of networking, or no?

  6. Thanks for the comments, y'all. It would be great if one day we could all meet up at one of these conventions, no?

    Karen, you are so right! I just edited my post to add that very important tip. 80 books sounds like it's just within the realm of reason.

    Laurie, I don't know what ActionReaders is, so I'll check it out before I give you an answer. But I would say that unless you've made appointments with people at BEA, I think it's very hard to network there if you don't already know somebody...You might want to start at one of the regional trade shows. Ours is NEIBA, the New England Independent Booksellers Association. I don't know the name of the one for the PacNW, but I bet it's kick ass. Chuck at Village Books could hook you up there.

  7. I look forward to reading your reports on these events-the vast Pacific Ocean and my limited budget prohibits by attendance!

  8. Comfortable shoes are a must! And I agree that it's hard to resist all those lovely books, but will do my best to be particular. :)

    I'm planning on taking a small suitcase with me so I don't have to carry the books around with me all day. I think it's worth the $3-4 charge, and I'll take a small lock as well so I don't have to worry. Have fun!

    Alexia's Books and Such...


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