4 lessons from a 4th timer #bea2016

4 Lessons From a 4th-Timer: Ready for #BEA2016

Next week, I’ll be attending Book Expo America for the fourth time (and for the first time somewhere other than New York City). Despite feeling un-ready this time for various reasons–some directly related to the event, and some not terribly pertinent to it at all–I’m excited to go again after missing it last year, and I like feeling that I’m approaching it with the mindset of a veteran. I understand that the change in venue is giving some bloggers the chance to attend BEA for the first time, so I thought I’d share four lessons I’ve learned from my experiences at the show.
4 lessons from a 4h timer ready for #BEA2016 4 images

4 Lessons From a 4th-Timer: Ready for #BEA2016

  • DON’T get sucked into the “free-books” black hole! There are so many galleys on offer, and it’s hard to resist the enthusiasm (and peer pressure) to grab anything that looks even remotely tempting. But don’t forget you have to get them all back home somehow, and that “somehow” will probably include shipping costs or extra luggage charges (and maybe both). Speaking as someone whose last book purge included an embarrassing number of galleys tagged “BEA(one year or another)” in my LibraryThing catalog–and who will be doing my utmost not to go down that road again with whatever I bring home this year!–I recommend whatever restraint you can muster up.
  • DON’T over-plan! It’s great to have a list of places to go, people to see, and things to do, but you might have an even better time if you don’t stick to it too closely. Unexpected opportunities may present themselves once you’re on-site–drinks with people you’ve known online for years but are meeting off-line for the first time, last-minute invitations, chances to see the city; you may not have penciled those experiences into your agenda, but consider giving yourself permission to take advantage of them anyway.

“BookExpo America (BEA) is the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. It’s the best place to discover new titles and authors, conduct business and network, and learn the latest trends.

BEA is the largest gathering of booksellers, librarians, retailers, publishers, rights, licensing, and book industry professionals in North America.”

While there are many book bloggers who do fall into one of the above categories of “book industry professional,” a large number of us don’t–we attend as “non-editorial media” (with or without press registration–sometimes bloggers get press access, and sometimes we don’t). The point, though, is that even though you’ll have fun–and if you don’t actually work in the industry, it won’t feel like work–keep in mind that BEA is a business event. (BookCon is BEA’s consumer-oriented, more casual younger sibling.)

  • DO take quiet time if / when you need it. This is the flip side of the previous point, and important to remember because so many of us who are drawn to books tend to be introverts. An event like this burns a lot of energy–physical energy used getting around the expo floor, and psychological energy in all the interpersonal contact. Even when it’s fun, it’s still tiring, and at some point, you’ll probably want some down time. Take it.
  • BONUS Pro-Tip–one more thing to take: an external battery pack for your phone. If you’ve got a smartphone, you’ll use it a lot taking photos, tweeting updates, and trading texts to coordinate your activities, and you’ll seriously eat into its battery life trying to connect to spotty/overloaded wi-fi in the convention center.

If you’ve been to Book Expo before, share some of what you’ve learned from experience!

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  1. Great tips! My phone battery died early my first day at BEA, and I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an external battery pack! I will be taking it easy with Armchair BEA this year, but hope to get to BEA in NYC again someday before my book blogging days are over.