So! For those of you who happen to follow along on Twitter (coughcough @ragingbibliohol cough), you might be aware that I spent last week at the Javits Center here in New York City for BookExpo America 2013. Yes, that’s right – there’s a BookExpo… and it is everything you’d think it would be.
A friend of mine who used to work for a small press here in NYC attended, with her company, the last two years and every June she’d tell me how crazy and amazing it was and how I really needed to bite the bullet and attend. So, I swallowed the cost of a four-day pass and signed up as a blogger. This entitled me to conference entry on all four days of the event but also got me into some (hypothetically) exclusive blogger-related events on Day One. Without further ado, I’m going to ramble on for a bit about the experience. Read on at your leisure!
Wednesday, May 29
So, a little before 9am, I found myself walking down 37th St towards the Javits Center. Within minutes, I had a spiffy badge and was headed down into the bowels of the building – a proper conference it was to be, with continental breakfast and large windowless rooms. After some always-slightly-awkward first-day-of-school introductions to new blogfriends at the table, the day got underway.
A somewhat dull keynote (in which we were implored to be nicer in our reviews – yawn) led into a choose-your-own-adventure series of breakout sessions. First, some editors from Tor, Mulholland, and Harlequin chatted us up about some exciting upcoming books. Then some blogging pros discussed how to make the most of one’s blog – my favorite sentiment being that you should just be yourself and do what you do best. Nice to remember that sometimes, you know?
Lunch was an ethics panel, full of really pertinent and important information but delivered (unfortunately) in the driest of tones. Still, I managed to stay awake and pick up a few important pieces of information – including the idea to add a little disclaimer on the site to say that none of these reviews are biased based on how I received the book (a gift, an advance copy for review, etc.) or who wrote it and so on. The afternoon brought some fascinating technical jargon – that blog-platform panel gave me so many ideas and spurred my belief that I probably need to move to WordPress.org – and some ideas on how to expand a blog’s reach. It concluded not with the Blogger Keynote but I trotted down the hall instead to catch the Buzz Panel presentation.
I then dropped by the Harper Collins Blogger Appreciation party in Midtown but slipped away after a drink and a brief (strange) interview – needed to rest up for the following day, I’d been told.
Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1
No matter how prepared I thought I was, I was unprepared for the first day of the proper exhibition hall, take-no-prisoners BEA. I mean, holy shit. The exhibitors are rushing around to get their stalls finalized and then they let the masses in – and it’s a free-for-all. I had a vague sense of what events I wanted to see but mostly I knew that there’d be galleys and that I wanted to get my hands on many of them, so I just started trotting up and down the aisles. First off, the place is huge – there was a whole section I didn’t even discover until after my first signing of the day. But secondly, people were going crazy, jostling for position and grabbing books and acting nuts. I got caught up in it, I’ll admit, grabbing any galleys I could find… but then, after the initial rush died down, I realized that it was silly to just grab books I wouldn’t want to read. I would be a discerning attendee, that I would!
And so over the course of the three general conference days, I wandered around the space picking up galleys here and there, chatting with publishers (so lovely to put faces to names, especially with some of my favorite small presses), and often queuing for upwards of 30 minutes to get things signed.
By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around (I’ll freely admit to leaving early on Friday, too), I had racked up an impressive (by my standards) number of books. In fact, I just about doubled my to-read list, going from 29 to 56. Here’s a photo of much (but not all) of the damage:
Some are signed, some are not; some are proper already-published books, some won’t be out until well into 2014 (2014!!); some are books I knew I wanted to read from long ago, some are brand-new finds. I can honestly say that I’m excited about all of them (or at least intrigued) and I’ll be tagging all of the reviews with BEA13 here on the blog in case you’re interested in seeing what looks good in the coming months.
And if you’re even remotely interested in seriously reading lots of books, the BEA is worth your time. The prices may seem a little high but considering how many books you can get (and how many of them can be signed), you quickly realize that you’re coming out ahead in the deal – and if you’re a casual reader, curious but not yet ready to fully commit, I met several PowerReaders on Saturday (the only day open to the “public”) who definitely got their money’s worth.
So, BEA, until next year – I will most definitely back (even though I’ll probably still have books left to read from this year).