I didn’t really know what to expect going to BEA. I read a bunch of posts from other bloggers, and I followed some of their tips…although I should have listened about checking the roller board suitcase. I did not think I would get that many books. Ha!
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram have seen a bunch of these pictures before, but I wanted to still write about the whole experience for anyone thinking about going to BEA in the future. And I wanted the record for myself.
Wednesday I was in kind of a blur. The exhibition floor was so overwhelming. I hadn’t prepared much beyond noting the time of some panels I wanted to see. I felt like I was walking around in 100 books stores at once. I just wanted to touch all the books! And I did take a lot of books.
I discovered the New York Puzzle Company, which makes Harry Potter puzzles! That warranted a text to Jim because I was so excited. Other things I texted him about…the discovery that Choose Your Own Adventure books were back in print (he never read one as a kid…gasp!) and that Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie are retired (so sad…but they have an amazing new endeavor come this fall…more below in Day 3).
I caught a panel with Gayle Forman talking about her new adult novel, Leave Me. She was speaking with two very seasoned women’s lit / romance authors, and they all had some very interesting things to say about writing and the women’s lit genre. I’ll holding their comments for when I review their books.
I also caught the Children’s Tales panel with Mo Willems! He was discussing his newest book, Nanette’s Baguette, which I need to read when it comes out in October. They weren’t giving that book away at BEA that I could find. So sad. It sounds amazing! I did pick up the other authors’ books on Day 2 and 3.
Here’s my haul pics from Wednesday.
I didn’t caught any signings the first day. I was too overwhelmed and too disorganized. Wednesday night I spent some time planning my day for Thursday. It was much easier with a schedule. I hate to think what I missed on Wednesday because I wasn’t prepared.
Thanks to my schedule, things went a little better on Thursday. But that meant that I got A LOT more books. My back was killing me by Thursday night. Seriously, the suitcase check to drop books was genius. I thought about going back to the hotel mid-day on Thursday, but the shuttles don’t run in the middle of the day. Luckily, I caught a bunch of panels, so I was able to put my books down for 30-45 minutes at a time to give my back a break.
My favorite part of BEA was definitely the panels. Advanced copies of books are good, but it’s not the only chance you have to read the book. Hearing the authors speak about their books is so much more special…at least to me. I learned about books I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, and I have some interesting comments to post along with my reviews once I read the books.
I loved what Ken Smikle said about getting readers to be ambassadors for books. He was referring to women in the African America communities, but I think it’s true for us bloggers as well. When we talk about the books we loved, we’re providing free marketing for those authors and publishers. To me there is nothing more fun as discussing the books I love!
One of my favorite panels was the Young Adult Reads panel, featuring David Levithan and Jennifer Niven. But by the end of the talk I was convinced I also needed David Arnold’s and Chelsea Sedoti’s books as well. I have already been approved for You Know Me Well on NetGalley, but I picked up the other three books by the end of the conference. And I must have been nodding along or something because David Arnold thought he knew me when he signed my book, but I think he just recognized me from the panel because I was sitting in the front. Or maybe it was that the ladies next to me asked a question and made the authors hold a knitted turtle that is their library mascot while they answered the question.
I went to a lot of author signings (in booth) on Thursday, including Jodi Picoult, who was my original favorite author when I was in high school and college. I have “met” her before, about 10 years ago when she came to Milwaukee, but this time I got a picture.
Unlike my awkward signing with Rainbow Rowell at NerdCon in October, I wasn’t embarrassed about these signings at all. I think it helped that I was unfamiliar with most of these authors, or I’d just seen them on a panel, so I had something to say to them. My favorite interaction was with Elin Hilderbrand. The description on the back cover mentioned three women being married to the same man, but it didn’t specify if he was leading multiple lives or if he’d just been married three times. So I asked her whether he was married to all three women at the same time. She said no with a chuckle, and then said that the man is dead at the start of the book. The publicist or whoever was with her made a joke about necrophilia and polygamy, and then he told me they had a beer waiting for me in the booth. It was the final signing of the day. I thought he was joking, but he insisted, and sure enough they had a whole cooler of Corona inside the Hatchett booth. Yes, please!
One of the best things about waiting in line for book drops or author signings is talking to other people. I met so many librarians, educators, and bloggers, including Cassi from My Thoughts Literally. It was so fun to be surrounded by so many book lovers! And it gave me an opportunity to pass out business cards.
I also gave my card to a bunch of the smaller publishers, especially children’s book publishers, and I signed up for mailing lists for the larger publishers. They were able to scan the QR code on my badge to get a bunch of information about me, which was cool and convenient.
Here are the books I got on Thursday.
Friday was my most fun day. After loading up my suitcase with all the regular books and putting the kids books, my clothes, and my pillow in my duffle bag, I only had my book bag available for books. I decided not to allow myself to fill any totes because I wouldn’t be able to manage the suitcase, duffle bag, book bag, and anything else on the train back to Milwaukee. I had to be much picker and much more organized, but there were a lot of good books on Friday.
I did it! I ended up with a completely full back pack and 2 extra books and my journal that I added to my duffle bag at the end of the day. Because my back was still sore from Thursday, and I had a killer tension headache, I did a lot of panels on Friday. I also hit 10,000 steps for the first time at the conference that day because I kept going to a panel, running for book drop or signing, and then heading back to the Uptown stage for another panel. I got a lot of great notes and a ton of great books. I was very satisfied at the end of Friday. Although I did tear up when the turned the lights off at 5 PM signaling the end of the conference. It was just an amazing experience!
The highlight for me on Friday was going to the Elephant and Piggie Reading panel expecting an actual reading of the books and discovering that it was Mo Willems speaking about the new endeavor I mentioned about. He has started a book series of books that Elephant and Piggie like to read in their retirement. It’s similar to the Dr. Seuss approved books, expect that Mo is the editor. I had missed his signing on Thursday, so I was a little bummed that I hadn’t gotten the first two galleys in the series. But as I was waiting for the panel to start, someone from the publisher came by and asked if I wanted the galleys and a cookie. Yes! I was beyond excited. The books look great, and I’ll share more of the panel discussion when I review them this fall.
Here’re the book I got on Friday.
I made it home on the train without incident. I was happy it wasn’t very full, and my luggage could sit in the sit with me vs. going on the overhead rack because I don’t think I could have lifted the suitcase that high. It was definitely more than 50 pounds. If I go to NYC next year, I don’t know how I’ll manage with the weight restriction.
Last night I arranged the books by publication month and got them all on my shelf.
Here are the final counts.
Regular Books (Children’s through Adult):
– already published – 3
– June – 4
– July – 3
– August – 5
– September – 13
– October – 11
– November – 2
– December – 1
– January – 4
– March – 1
50 books – 1 duplicate, 2 for my niece
– already published – 5
– August – 3
– September – 10
– October – 4
Total = 72 books!
Were you at BEA this year? How many books did you take home?