Book Expo America 2014: An afterview
Once again I attended BookExpo America, this time on my own dime. I felt the experience was worth repeating if for the swag alone. Okay, maybe not just for the swag. Meeting authors and attending panels is fun too, and this year I did all of those things and more–and maybe a little less as well.
Due to my unemployment, I registered as a blogger, although I could’ve gone in as a book club moderator as well, so if you think that the industry-only days are closed to you, that may not be true. It is true, however, that if you have your degree and have worked in a library, you still feel like a librarian even when you’re between jobs. It’s a form of identity that I represented on my badge with the phrase “Action Librarian.” (I’d completely forgotten I’d put that on my registration, too. Ha.) When people at the show asked me what that meant, I told them I was rather an Inaction Librarian right now. I wish, however, I had said something about running, jumping, and climbing trees. Still, Action Librarian is a good way of describing the sheer amount of motion library workers and librarians, especially children’s librarians, are in, despite the stereotype of the tightly-wound woman behind the desk.
But I was representing libraries this year, in my own way; two local libraries and my old workplace will be receiving much of the free merchandise that BEA exhibitors give away in droves. Which is not to say there isn’t a lot I’ll be keeping.
One of the things I said I would do before this year’s Expo was to reread my list of tips from last year. I did not. So let’s review and see how I did.
BRING SNACKS: I did not, and I ended up eating a $2.80 banana because of it. I did, however, discover the amazingness of “sweet potato starch” noodles at the Korean place in the food court.
CHECK A ROLLING BAG: I did that! After the first day of terrible neck, shoulder, and back pain, I borrowed a rolling suitcase from the friend I was staying with and checked it. IT WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID. You just have to fit in a drop here, a drop there, and then you come to realize that no one carries more than a bag of books at a time because they’re constantly dropping too. Game-changer. Really.
OR JUST SHIP ‘EM HOME: I thought about it when I was figuring parking costs, but I ultimately decided against it. It was cheaper to park and drive them home, I think.
GET THERE BEFORE 7AM: Yes! Every day I was there before 7am, and every day I got the ticketed authors I wanted. Saturday was cutting it close, but I also got there at about two minutes of.
OR DO THAT THING WHERE YOU PAY AHEAD OF TIME FOR TICKETS: I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t do this. I tried logging in and out of the registration site, but still couldn’t find a way to become an Avid Reader. Then I forgot all about it during my West Coast trip, and by the time I came back, it was no longer available. As it turns out, bloggers don’t get that option. However, I was told by someone while chatting in a line that bloggers can call and request the pass and they’ll be able to buy it over the phone. I was also told they can upgrade to a Press pass, which gains them better access to…something. Not sure what. Maybe being able to get up close for photos of authors.
ONLY BRING ONE BAG FROM HOME: Didn’t, and BookTV stepped in again and handed one out to people waiting in line the first day. I was hoping that would happen. Once you know where the good bags are, that’s where you go first when the doors open anyway.
BAGS ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS: I already made my bag video post, which I’ll put up tomorrow.
THOSE BAGS WILL BREAK: Not if you drop to your suitcase often enough!
TATTLE ON THE LINE CUTTERS: Didn’t have to do that this year. Or maybe didn’t care enough. A lot of people will hold places in lines for people to go to the bathroom, etc, and those are not people who bother me. I certainly did held places for people, and people held places for me–but only once we’d already lined up, and only for bathroom breaks and bag-grabbing. Some of the lines were better dealt with than last year, so I only saw one person who got in a line that was cut into pieces (as you have to do when you’re working in a small area), and they obviously didn’t do it on purpose.
DON’T JUST USE THE EVENT MAGAZINE: True! I grabbed the galley drop schedule from a couple of booths and it made a big difference on getting the books I wanted.
DON’T TAKE EVERY BOOK: I didn’t, but having the rolling bag made it harder, especially knowing that I wasn’t going to keep everything for myself.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY TO YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS–BUT KEEP IT TO TWO SENTENCES: I didn’t do this the way I did last year, where I rehearsed in my head. Part of this is because a lot of authors I was in line for for the kids, and that’s a discussion in itself. Some authors are very chatty (Jo Walton, Scott Westerfeld, Adriana Trigiani), and that’s on them, but I tried to wrap it up quickly. Which is more than I can say for my conversations in line. I babbled. I do that when I’m tired. Sorry, line friends.
ASK FOR THINGS: There are secret books that you have to mention to get. Also, I got a display copy, last galley there, on the last day, because I asked. Thank goodness, because I would’ve really regretted not getting it. (It was the new Sara Farizan, in case you were interested.)
CHARGE EVERYTHING THE NIGHT BEFORE: I actually found the charging stations this year! But didn’t have to use them. But I did keep an eye on someone’s phone for them while it was charging. No one even tried to steal it.
STAY AT ONE OF THE HOTELS THEY SUGGEST: This is my goal for next year.
SCHEDULE SCHEDULE SCHEDULE: I did this, but only between 7am and the time the show opens. That’s a lot of time to kill, and scheduling helps it pass.
BRING A PACK MULE–I MEAN, A FRIEND WHO LIKES BOOKS BUT DOESN’T OBSESS THE WAY YOU DO: Not possible this year, but I bet my shoulders would hurt less if I had.
SIT DOWN IN LINE WHENEVER YOU CAN: Very true.
MAKE FRIENDS: I loved my line friends! The librarians from PA, Jen who got me the Guardians of the Galaxy bag, the two kids who put up with my babbling waiting for Maggic Stiefvater, the woman who dared me to tell R.L. Stine that Christopher Pike is better, Alison Pitt (fabulous sister of actor Michael Pitt), who was my line-buddy the last day and some of whose pictures will be posted here, and the Westerfeld boozers. You know who you are.
TAKE THE FREE BOOZE: I didn’t, because I was driving this year, and also because I knew I’d rather just take muscle relaxants at the end of the day.
ACTUALLY LEAVE THE EXHIBIT HALL ONCE IN A WHILE: I went to a couple of panels this year and wish I could’ve gone to more.
GO TO BED EARLY: I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my host and hostess, but I’m glad I tried to make sure I was asleep by ten every night. I even tried to get to bed–well, couch–by 9. It’s a necessary part of the process, especially when you drive in.
I definitely felt like I had a much better handle on what was going on this year, and worked things out accordingly. Did I miss things? Of course, especially for the last day’s BookCon, which deserves a post of its own. Many of the publishing companies had a better grasp of what they wanted to do this year, although some will flat out lie to your face if they think it’s in their best interests. I do feel that, if there are authors I’m excited for, I will go next year. This year almost could’ve gotten a pass, given some of the people who showed up, but part of me thinks that just being in the same room as Neil Patrick Harris made it all worth it.
Upcoming posts: The Bags of BEA 2014 video, The Disaster That Was BookCon, Unshelved‘s panel on reclaiming libraries and librarianship, and some pictures!