It’s rare when marketers, producers, artists, and fans come together to rub elbows, in any industry. In the world of books, that’s what happens each year at Book Expo America. I’d heard of BEA for years but didn’t imagine I would ever get there. This year, when some of my friends from the Huntsville Library Foundation decided to go, I hitched my cart to their wagon and we all headed to Chicago.
I spent my first day conferencing with fellow book bloggers, learning mainly about how to up my Twitter game. It’s true—the next few days at Book Expo proved that all the cool kids, from writers to publishers, are tweeting. I can help hook you up to the book party on Twitter, so if you’re not already following The Snail’s feed, stop and click here.
On Day 2, I hit the floor, visiting booth after booth to talk with publishers, learn about the latest book releases, and browse interesting gifts for readers: coloring books, jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, T-shirts, coloring books, bookmarks, coloring books, mugs, and—yes—more coloring books. From time to time, I stopped at one of the stages to catch a presentation of, say, the hottest YA books for the coming year or conversations with authors such as Mo Willems, Chris Cleave, and Sebastian Junger. And my group and I (when we could find each other) strategized about which autographing line to stand in. Did we want to meet Jodi Picoult or Amor Towles or even Kenny Loggins?
Though we made the most of our three days, we didn’t begin to scratch the BEA surface. In conference rooms all around Chicago’s huge McCormick Place, the Expo held seminars on self-publishing, digital marketing, global literature, libraries, and book selling. To me, the best part of BEA was the welcoming atmosphere, no matter what your book-related business. Librarians were hanging out with bookstore owners, would-be writers mingled with bestselling authors, publishers traded business cards with bloggers, and readers stayed right in the middle of it all.
As a first-timer at #BEA16, it was hard not to be either starry-eyed with author gazing or buried nose-deep in the tantalizing schedule of events. And it was difficult to resist all the ARCs (advanced reader copies) the publishers pushed our way, even when the title was way outside my genre or interest. I mean, how does one say no to free books? No wonder so many people had brought along suitcases to take home their haul.
Though I mostly wandered and wondered through my first Book Expo America, I had the wherewithal to snap a few photos along the way. I’m happy to be able to share them here. But BEA will keep on giving, as I continue to make my way through all the fabulous book finds and then sharing them with you here on The Snail. Stay tuned in the coming months for reviews and recommendations. We have a lot to look forward to in the world of reading.