17 June 2013

BEA, Bill Bryson, and Other Bookish Events

Workman booth at BEA
I have been woefully behind in my blogging!  Book reviews, author signings, and publisher dinners have come and gone without my posting, but I can't skip out on BEA, or BookExpo America.  BEA is arguably the most important book/publishing event worldwide, up there with the Frankfurt or London Book Fair.  It's also a chance for me to meet up with friends in publishing and from other bookstores whom I only see 1-2 times a year at bookseller conventions like this one.  It's lots of fun. It's also *exhausting.*

My favorite YA from last year, along with its sequel
I spent most of my Thursday and Friday in meetings with publicists from various publishing companies to promote my store for its 50th anniversary this fall. We're trying to build a MONSTER events schedule for the anniversary celebration, so we were pitching to everybody. If I could get just one of the big authors we were shooting for, my pick would be Bill Bryson, who has a new book out in the fall called One Summer: America, 1927, which I'm reading now. My highlight of the day on Thursday was getting to meet him again (I spent an exalted hour in his company once before, which you can read about here) when I showed up in the Random House meeting room for my appointment.  Here's the man himself, chatting with a...publisher? Marketing person? Publicist? I'm actually not really sure.

Bill Bryson (on the left) 
On Thursday we had the Celebration of Bookselling luncheon, where each table has an author or illustrator and somebody from publishing, and we indie booksellers get to chat them up. I got to sit next to Will Schwalbe, author of End of Your Life Book Club, and we shared a Moment. One of the folks speaking (John Green by video, maybe? I really cannot remember) got us both a little choked up and then we glanced at each other and started laughing because we were both so sappy.
Will Schwalbe
Publishers also throw lots of fun parties, and that is a good part of where the exhaustion comes in.  My coworker and BEA roommate, Hannah, might have overdone it just a tad on her first day, but I don't blame her.  It was her first BEA, and she was in appointments all day long, followed by cocktail parties for Random House and Simon & Schuster, followed by more time on the town in the company of a very groovy Wiki chick. I then was witness to her heroic efforts to make our 9:00 appointment on Friday morning.

Workman's menu. Bacon candy? Yes, please!
Odyssey Booksellers!
I went to the Workman party, which is open to almost everybody, and then made my way to a dinner hosted by Algonquin (I've raved about them before, but they're a wonderful publisher based out of North Carolina and a part of the larger Workman group).  We always try to get to the Workman party right when it starts so that we can actually have a conversation and meet new people, because after about 45 minutes, the room fills to a ridiculous level and you cannot hear anything.  Plus the wait for the bar or for food is ridiculous!

Three lovely public school librarians from near Buffalo, whom I met at Workman
At 7:30 I left the party and walked to  Home restaurant, where I was lucky enough to be seated with author Lee Smith for the first (and longest) part of the night.  The authors rotate from table to table so that everybody gets to meet each one, but Lee was at our table for drinks, appetizers, and salad, so I got extra time with her.  Also at my table were the editors from O Magazine and Family Circle, which was pretty cool, and the publisher and a marketing person from Algonquin.

That's Larry Watson in the middle
Friday was largely a repeat of the previous day, except that my dinner that night was sponsored by Milkweed, an indie publisher based out of the Twin Cities.  They do great work, too, and this was another fairly intimate dinner.  Sue from Milkweed took us to Lupa, which is one of Mario Batali's restaurants, and treated us to the tasting menu.

This is me with Betty, who runs a big literary festival in one of the Dakotas. Shhh...I can't remember which one.
I left Lupa and started walking towards Poisson Rouge, where the PGW party was happening, but wonder of wonders, the music was over before I even got there.  I think it must have started super early, 'cause I'm not the type of person who usually shows up at an evening music venue after it's over.  I'm no night owl. Anyway, I ran into a woman who used to see my old mentor, so we grabbed a quick drink and then found our way home.
The post-music dregs of the PGW party
Saving the best for last, I met up with some fellow bookbloggers at an Irish pub near Penn Station on Saturday morning: Alice, Alley, Rayna, and Amanda were all there and we had a grand ol' time.  We talked about BEA, suffragists vs suffragettes, Bessie Bueller, Harry Potter, fan fiction, and lots of other breezy subjects about which we know everything. Everything. Seriously, next to chatting with Bill Bryson, this was without a doubt my favorite part of the BEA weekend.
L-R: Rayna, me. Amanda, Alice, Alley
I thought I was going to have time to blog about the fundraiser/cocktail party/dinner bash that I got to attend the following week, but alas, I do not.  The good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll get to it  soon.


  1. What a great weekend! I have to admit to a bit of jealousy ;) I've heard that BEA will be in Chicago in 2015 (maybe) I sure hope so because that is much closer to me!

  2. You heard correctly, madam. Here's to 2015 and no longer having to attend BEA in the Javits Center!

  3. WE WILL HANG OUT SO MUCH IN 2015 (...while making time for your actual schedule).

    Also Bessie Bueller forevs. Let's make this name thing stick.

  4. Aw, my giiiiiiirls! I still enjoy that picture :)

    Also, you got to meet Bill Bryson again!!!!! (and you did loads of other cool things too, obvs, but also, Biiiiiiiiiiill!!) I... Don't really know what the point of this comment was. Except BILL BRYSON

    1. BILL BRYSON is pretty much the point of ALL THINGS. Bill Bryson. All things. You'll probably find those phrases cross referenced in any thesaurus or dictionary.

  5. Wow, what an exciting whirlwind of a time! So glad you had a great trip!

  6. There is Fforde AND Bryson in your post. I AM IN LOVE and also very jealous. We will have to meet up again next year and then I GUESS I could swing a trip out to Chicago in 2015 when BEA decides to make things all complicated for me.

    1. Oh, Alley, you definitely need to swing a trip to Chicago in 2015. We need to keep having annual BEA reunions!

  7. Bill Bryson is pretty much #1 on my list of Famous People I Want to Host a Dinner Party For. He is so delightful in print that I can't imagine he isn't wonderful in person, too.

    It was so great to meet you! I think it was pretty clear we all need to hang out again soon, since it took us about 30 minutes to actually get from the table to the door... But who can blame us when HP shipping is the topic of conversation?

    1. Yes to the dinner party point. I'm re-listening to Sunburned Country right now and his voice is wonderful. I could listen to him talk at a dinner party all night!

      SO much fun visiting with you in NYC. Now that HP is (mostly) behind us, we should figure out ways to visit in other ways!

  8. Bill Bryson is loads of fun! Happy to hear he's produced another work..

  9. It sounds like you had a fabulous time! I'm so jealous of all you lucky ducks who went to BEA, but the sting is softened a bit by reading about your adventures. :)

  10. What fun! You must have amazing energy or an advanced coffee addiction to keep up with all that. Thanks for telling us about it.

  11. Also a huge fan and lover of BILL BRYSON...looking forward to his new book this Fall...is his voice as captivating in person as on his CDs?


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