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.
- DO remember that BEA is a professional trade show. This is how Book Expo defines itself (emphasis added):
“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!