I cannot believe that June is already upon us! This year has certainly flew so far and it’s already half over. My mind is blown 0_0.
This past week/weekend I had the opportunity to attend BEA15 or Book Expo American 2015. BEA is one of the largest book trade shows around. Multiple publishing houses, imprints, and authors exhibit at the show for thousands of attendees. The show originally opened its doors for booksellers, librarians, members of the press and other publishing industry professionals. Just recently, within the past 10 years, BEA opened its doors to bloggers/vloggers of the book variety. Since this change occurred, I was lucky enough to attend this somewhat ultimate bookish event.
I’ve heard so much about BEA as a book blogger. From Instagram and Twitter posts to BEA beginner blog posts and BEA haul videos on YouTube, I’ve been itching to attend this event and see what it was all about. It was almost like BEA became the holy grail of book events to me. I just had to go one day. And finally after two years of blogging I was blessed with the opportunity to attend this year’s BEA in New York City.
To say I was excited was an understatement. But on top of all those exciting feeling was also a large amount of nerves. I spent more time then I probably should stressing over the schedule for the days I would be attending and then day 1 rolled around.
I had previously made a practice walk to the Javits Center so I knew where the building was and how long of a walk it would take me. I was lucky that someone said you could register on Tuesday before the event started, because that was exactly what I ended up doing during my practice run.
By the time I walked up to the doors at 7:45 AM on Wednesday the main hall was crowded. I grabbed a quick Starbucks and checked in my carry-on suitcase (another tip I learned during my research) and sat for a few minutes. I was attending the blogger conference which began at 8 AM (check-in) with the welcoming panel beginning at 9 AM. I was definitely nervous. I am an introvert and so shy it’s probably a bit painful to watch me in a crowd of people I don’t know. I’m the awkward one always!
When I walked into that crowded conference room of bubbly, excited chatter I froze internally. I scanned the 3/4 filled room and ended up skirting to the left of the room. I found a mainly empty table near the front and braved a “can I sit here?” before taking a seat on the opposite side. Only two more people sat at our table. All of us non-talkative. I wasn’t brave enough to start talking so instead I riveted my attention to the front of the room, patiently waiting for the panel to begin. I also did some people watching–a habit of mine 😉 When the panel began I eased into my environment. This was just another book event, I’d be alright. Soon I began taking notes and got engrossed in the conversation the panelists took part in: blogging and it’s future. Always the student, I am constantly willing to learn what I can.
by the time the second panel began I was getting more comfortable. I picked the second row with a table (and charging station) and sat down ready to hear about alternative and new content ideas to add to my blog. I spoke to someone who sat next to me (win!) and took notes while learning about podcasts, vlogging and book clubs. All of which I’ve contemplated for this blog (so stay tuned for some new things!). The panel ended quickly after some q & A and I stayed rooted in my spot for panel 3. I knew someone on this panel so I was more confident in my current environment then when I first walked into the main conference room. This panel too, went fast and before I knew it I was heading out to join the somewhat massive line that had begun earlier to enter the main exhibit floor.
I had already made up my mind the night before that I wasn’t going to attend the full bloggers conference because of the few books I wanted to get that afternoon–mainly Truthwitch which was being dropped at 1pm. So in line I stood for an hour before the exhibit floor opened.
And when it did open it was a little overwhelming and a little weird. People actually ran to get into the exhibit show. I really didn’t see that coming at all. I was under the impression that BEA was a professional setting and it looked like kids at the start of an Easter Egg hunt. I know that I really wanted to get Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (you should definitely add it to your GoodReads) but I wasn’t going to run for it. I walked there and when they didn’t have anymore it wasn’t the end of the world to me. I knew I’d be buying the book either way. But I still couldn’t get over the fact that people were rushing all over the place and trying to get whatever they could. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I guess it wasn’t really that. I felt like a fish out of water walking around. I wasn’t a seasoned veteran or a well-known blogger and I wasn’t a bookseller looking to wholesale buy some of these books, so really I sorta felt like I didn’t belong. Eventually by day 2 this feeling began to ebb away, but that first day was the hardest for me. I felt weird picking up a book and not paying for it. I felt weird that the publisher/publicist didn’t know me. It was just a somewhat surreal feeling. The afternoon went by fast and soon it was 5 PM. Day 1 was weird, but in the end a success. Although the walk back to the appartment with sore shoulders and a sore upper back was definitely an experience. I have to send a shout out to Hannah at the Irish Banana Review for setting me up with the Homewood Suiets hotel via the GoodReads post she wrote. That hotel was a life-send since it was only two and a half blocks up from the Javits. Plus the hotel offered complimentary breakfast, dinner and wine/beer. That end of day glass of wine was exactly what I needed 😊.
Day 2 was definitely better than day 1. I got to the Javits super early so I could get tickets for the ticketed author signings. I heard you should be there early so I believe I got there a little after 7 AM. The tickets were a breeze to grab and then it was time to play the waiting in line game. The show floor didn’t open until 9 AM so we had time. I came to BEA with my mom so I was fortunate enough to have her to talk to. She had bought an author breakfast which she left me to go attend near 8 AM. I waited in line until the floor opened and was thankful that the event staff had made a mini speech about no running or skipping or fast walking once it was open. Of course this didn’t stop the mad pushing of people when the floor opened (yes it was a little scary as a 5′ girl!!). I did make it through alive though 🙂
I was much more confident this day and felt better in my environment. I lined up to meet Alexandra Bracken as she signed an ARC of her novel Passenger. I got there at a good time (number 61 I believe) as the line grew very, very long. After I received the ARC (she was super nice and let me grab a photo), I ambled around and tried to stay to schedule.
I soon realized that BEA was all about lines and waiting. If you had something schedule for 1PM you should be there at noon or earlier. Then you line up (unofficially) and wait and wait and wait. The good part about this is that everyone seems to be okay with the waiting, like they know it’s the expected thing to do for this event. Plus you get to network as well. I got to meet some other bloggers, fellow book lovers, and some other book professionals like a children’s librarian (what I’m aspiring to be!). I started opening up a bit from my introvert shell and I was grateful for that experience.
Before I knew it my mom and I were hauling our tote bags (provided free by multiple publishers) full of books back to our hotel. This walk in the morning was refreshing, but this walk back after the event was a workout at the very least. At least we didn’t have to fight for a shuttle or pay a taxi fare :). That night we ordered pizza to be delivered and it was divine. I thought I was back on the streets of Trastevere eating a Margarita from my favorite place. I need to go back to NYC and just do a pizza tour because I love me some good pizza!!
Day 3 arrived sooner than I thought it would. My days at BEA were flying by! I arrived at the Javits around 6:45 and hopped in line for the ticketed authors. I wanted to meet JLA and Meg Cabbot, so I knew I had to be there early to snag one of their tickets. Afterwards I met up with my mom and so began day three of waiting.
When the exhibit floor opened for the third time, there was still the rush and pushing of people, but I was calmer by now. I learned quickly after days 1 & 2 to not stress anymore about missing things. People get a little crazy, but I wanted to just have fun. So I just followed my schedule as best I could and enjoyed my last day! I met some really nice people and some even nicer authors!
I left BEA around 4pm as my mom and I were going to see Les Miserables that night. The theater wasn’t far so we made the walk and grabbed dinner at a French restaurant we had made reservations at the night before. The food was great and the wine even better. I was excited for the show since Les Miserables is my favorite and it ended up being a fantastic show! Soon I was strolling back to the hotel with my mom and sleep came fast that night.
The next morning was all about strategizing how to pack. I have to say I’m super proud of my mom and I for our packing skills and our lugging over 50 books home skills (thankfully Penn Station was only 4 short blocks away from the hotel). In the end it was an overall successful trip and BEA experience. I learned a lot about the event; picked up some blogging tips and learned about myself as well. I hope everyone who attended got as much out of it as I did! And I hope that you had fun as well! For those who couldn’t attend I hope you get a chance to in the future. If anything, BEA is an experience and definitely one you won’t forget.
If you were at BEA and we connected let me know! If we didn’t, let’s connect now! Also let me know about your BEA15 experience or your first time at BEA! I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!