BookExpo America (BEA) took place May 28-31, 2014, and included hundreds of authors, dozens of events, and thousands of new book titles that were being promoted by the authors and publishers. I've been attending BEA for 14 years; librarians are welcome at BEA, although they are far outnumbered by booksellers. Although my role in collection development has always been minimal, I use my attendance to learn about new books and to collect copies that I can review here and on Amazon. I attended special events and educational programs, and explored the exhibits throughout the four-day event.
Wednesday, May 28. I took the MegaBus from Albany to New York, securing round trip fare for $6, the best price I've ever gotten on the MegaBus. I got to New York too early to check into my hotel (The New Yorker), so I just dropped my luggage off at the hotel's luggage room and went directly to the conference center. The first day of the conference is primarily made up of educational programming and special events. I attended several programs throughout the day: Publishing, Digital Technology & Women: The View from the Cutting Edge; The Future of Bricks and Mortar Retailers (the keynote); Helping Bookstores, Saving Lives: James Patterson's 1M Indie Store Campaign; and the BEA Editor's Buzz Adult Books. I had to leave the last presentation early as I was meeting a former colleague (and my BEA roommate), Linda, for a special event at the Yale Club. Hosted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), this dinner included presentations by authors with soon-to-be-published books. It was hosted by Maureen Corrigan, with authors Robyn Carr, Joel Dicker, Pat O'Brien, and Sue Miller each speaking about their new books.
Thursday, May 29. The morning started with a breakfast hosted by Random House at their company headquarters on W. 57th St. Similar in format to the previous night's dinner, speakers included David Mitchell, Amy Bloom, and several additional authors. Random House was kind enough to give us copies of all of their books as well. Back at the convention center I began to walk the exhibits finding that either the early crowd had picked up all of the galleys on display. It may have been timing, but I found throughout this BEA that the bigger publishers didn't seem to be giving away as many galleys as they used to. Perhaps they're relying more on netgalleys and they don't feel the need to give as many print galleys away. I met up with my friend again for lunch, another special event sponsored by the AAP. The lunch consisted of a box lunch with soda, and the speakers were Deborah Harkness, Cary Elwes, Matt Richtel, Kathy Reichs, and Garth Stein. Once again, we were given a bag full of galleys. I only attended one educational program on Thursday: the AAP Librarian Book Buzz I. Exhausted after such a full day and a lot of walking, Linda and I had dinner at a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel.
Friday, May 30. With no special events planned, I began day 2 of the exhibits by trying to walk the whole floor. I really appreciated Library Journal's booth, which is set up as a lounge for attending librarians. They supply water, iced tea, and coffee throughout the day, along with a variety of snacks. It's really nice to have a place on the exhibit floor to sit down! And it was conveniently located near the shipping area which made it easy to drop off a bag of books and take a little break. I attended two educational programs on Friday: Walter Isaacson Speaks with Jacob Weisberg about his new book The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution; and AAP Librarian Book Buzz 2. I mailed one box home and realized that I was going to have too many books left over for my suitcase so I resigned myself to mailing another box home on Saturday. Meeting up with Linda after the show, we relaxed for a short while and then met another friend for an early dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant near Madison Square Garden.
Saturday, May 31. The last day of BEA was called Book Con. Included in the registration fee for all attendees, it was also opened up to non-book-industry people (i.e., readers) for a fee. Linda had to catch an early train, so she didn't attend the final day. I arrived at the convention center just as the exhibits were opening, and it was a madhouse. Once I finally made it into the exhibits, I realized that for the final day, the exhibit floor was divided in half. Book Con people were allowed into half of the space; the other half was reserved for folks who'd registered as book professionals for the whole event. The Book Con side was so jam-packed that I couldn't even walk through it. The lines for books and authors were enormous. The trade side was fairly slow, with almost no traffic and few books being promoted. Some of the big publishers were on one side and some on the other. It wasn't even remotely possible to get near the autographing lines. After braving the crowds for a while I gave up and decided to just attend educational programs for the day, but when I went to the hall where they were held, I found that most of them had lines of hundreds of Book Con folks waiting to get in. It was just impossible, and I have to admit that I was extremely disappointed with Book Con. We'll see what they do next year, but I hope they come up with something better than this! I caught my bus back a little after 3:00 and was home in a couple of hours.