(For those who may not be familiar with BEA (Book Expo America): it’s a 3 day industry conference held annually for publishers, booksellers, librarians, press (including Book Bloggers) and other people connected with the industry to network and receive information about new authors and upcoming releases.)
I think this was my 4th BEA, and it was the best one yet. I had a wonderful 3 days meeting fellow book bloggers, having great conversations about blogging and books, and acquiring a ton of great titles. Needless to say though, I’m excited about the fact that I do not have to go to the Javits center for (hopefully) the next two years. In this post I’ll do my best to recap my BEA experience and share the books I received and what ones I’m most excited about.
Wednesday I attended Blogger Con for the first time. I’d heard mixed things about it from other bloggers, but I decided to give it a shot. I really enjoyed the networking breakfast, and met a few awesome bloggers: Bridget from Dog-Eared & Dog-Tagged, Cassie from Happy Book Lovers, Nicole from Sassy Peach Reads, and a lovely marketing manager from Influence Publishing, Lyda.
The morning keynote was a panel of bloggers taking part in discussion of the “State of Blogging and Books.” The moderator was Thea James of The Book Smugglers, and the panelists were: Patty Chang Anker, Author, Blogger and Speaker; Ron Hogan, Literary Evangelist; and Kameron Hurley, Author and Blogger. I thought all of them were great and had interesting insights to share. I do wish there had been a more “typical” book blogger on the panel though: someone more like us in the audience who did not have a book deal and doesn’t work in the industry (someone like the moderator Thea herself – who didn’t really get to answer the questions, just ask them). The conversation had highs and lows too – it seems like a more typical keynote speech presented by a great speaker would have kicked off the event with a bit more energy.
This was followed by two more morning panel sessions – two happening at once in each timeslot so you could pick the topic you were most interested in. My favorite morning session was “Creative Content Opportunities With Your Blog” and in particular hearing from Kat O’Keefe and Sarah Moon about BookTubing and Podcasting, respectively. It was very inspiring, and it’s actually getting me to consider maybe possibly perhaps trying a video blog or two. (We’ll see.)
In the afternoon at Blogger Con I spoke on a panel with Kerry from Entomology of a Bookworm and Melody from Melody & Words, and lead by Amanda from Book Riot. The ladies from Shelf Notes shared an awesome recap of our panel “Engaging Your Readers: Tips from Experienced Bloggers” – huge thanks to them for sharing this! I had a great time collaborating with Amanda, Kerry and Melody, and learned a lot from them in the process. I’m so glad that it went well and that people seemed to find it valuable – it was a lot of fun!
The “cons” of Book Blogger Con: As several bloggers who went last year pointed out – the networking with other bloggers and the sharing of ideas is the most valuable part of the conference. I wish that they’d given us time to have focused, roundtable conversations about blogging with our fellow bloggers. Another major issue with the conference this year was with the scheduling – the show floor opened up Wednesday at 1pm, right in the middle of our conference. While I was eating lunch and networking with the bloggers at my table, the clock hit 12:40 and 6 of 7 of them stood up and went up to the show floor, leaving the blogger conference permanently. The afternoon sessions were not nearly as well attended as the morning. I think that most bloggers wanted to stay, but weren’t willing to miss out on the galleys and author events starting above – hard to blame them.
As I mentioned above, Blogger Con was taking place at the same time the floor opened up, so I didn’t spend much time in the showroom on the first day. I did sneak up there for a bit after my panel to grab a few books at author signings, and also had a little while to explore at the end of the day. (I also got to briefly meet the delightful Natalie of Coffee and a Book Chick thanks to an intro from Kerry.)
One of my favorite artists, Maira Kalman, was signing posters of her upcoming Penguin Press book. I’m not normally a big book poster person, but this one is lovely, and will be good for when I’m working again and want to decorate my space at the office.
Of the galleys/books I grabbed on day 1, I’m most excited for Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal and Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart. When I grabbed Girl Waits with Gun and got it signed by Amy, I thought I had never heard of her. But then as I looked more closely at the book that night, I discovered that she is also the author of The Drunken Botanist, and that I’d previously witnessed how funny and awesome she is on a Nerdette Podcast.
I already own Sit Like a Buddha, but I wanted to meet Lodro Rinzler so I went to the signing line anyway. I’m going to post a review of this one, and will be holding a giveaway for my extra, autographed copy – stay tuned!
Day 2 had me running all over the place trying to keep to the schedule I made, attempting to collect all the books I was interested in. Day 2 also seemed to be a middle-grade themed day for me, most of my best galleys were kid’s lit titles from my favorite middle-grade authors.
Favorites of day 2:
- Today Maira Kalman was signing finished copies of her lovely art book published by MOMA, Hurry Up and Wait. (Already released)
- I’m so excited for Goodbye Stranger, the new book from Newbery winner Rebecca Stead. (Coming 8.4.15)
- Continuing with Newbery winning authors, I got a copy of The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, who is lovely and said she likes my name. (Coming in September)
- Newbery honor winning author Gary D. Schmidt has a new book coming out, Orbiting Jupiter, which looks way different than his other books that I’ve read. But different can be great, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a try. (Coming 10.16.15)
- So there’s a lot of Newbery winners, but what about a Caldecott? Don’t worry: thanks to the wonderful Kelly I had a ticket for Brian Selznick, and got a galley of his new book The Marvels: half wordless graphic novel / half written story. (Coming 9.15.15)
Here’s the talented Brian Selznick himself:
- In non-kid-lit galley favorites, I picked up The Clasp by Sloane Crosley. I like her essays and am interested in her fiction debut. (Coming 8.6.15)
- Pema Chodron is a well respected Buddhist and mindfulness author, and I got a copy of Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, an adaptation of a graduation address she delivered. (Coming 9.1.15)
I also got my favorite totebag of the week on day 2, compliments of The Overlook Press.
I was BEAed out by day 3, so I relaxed in the morning at home and went in after lunch just for the Book Group Speed Dating event, which I’d heard was fantastic. And holy crap was it ever. You’re assigned a table number, and when you get there it’s COVERED in books. Once the event starts, publicists have 10 minutes each to describe their books to you – once their time is up they pick up and move to the next table, and you hear from a different publishing house. I think we heard from about 12 or so all together? Unlike the madness on the show floor, you actually get an opportunity to hear what each book is about and decide if it’s something you’d like to read. If it is – you grab a copy. After the event is over, you’re allowed to go around to the other tables (many of which had different titles) and grab leftover copies.
The event was a lot of fun, and I feel like I got books I will definitely be interested in reading, which doesn’t always happen in the showroom where there is limited time and information available before you grab a book, especially if you have to join a queue. Here’s my stack of books, some galleys, some final editions:
I’m excited about so many of these, but here are the ones that really stand out to me:
- I’ve had my eye on Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott since hearing about it on a Nerdette Podcast, and was thrilled to get a copy. (Already released)
- Dietland by Sarai Walker – I’d read a great review of this from Shannon, and when I saw it was available at the event, but not my table, it became my mission to grab it afterwords. I was successful, and have already read and loved it. (Already released)
- The Bees by Laline Paull is the best example of a book that initially had me thinking “NOPE” and then the publicist talked me into. (Already released, available in paperback)
- The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray – I loved Skippy Dies, so I’m looking forward to his new novel. (Coming 10.20.15)
- Only the Animals: Stories by Ceridwen Dovey looks so unique – I’m excited to try out something new. (Coming 9.15.15)
I think I could just keep going and list off every book in that stack, but I’ll stop so that this post can eventually end.
After this wonderful event, I lugged my books out of Javits and went out for coffee with the lovely book bloggers Leah, Kerry and Sarah. We had so much fun getting to hang out in person, and I think we were also incredibly happy to be out of the Javits center. It was a great afternoon.
Next year I want to attend more presentations and sessions during the week. I was very focused on sticking to my signing/galley drop schedule, and I think I missed out on some wonderful discussions. So that will be my goal for next year. It’s also in Chicago in 2016, so I’ll be flying to BEA for the first time. I’ll get to learn first hand how difficult it is to cram all my galleys into an extra suitcase!
Fellow bloggers – who’s planning on going to BEA next year? I’m already looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting more bloggers in person!