photo credit: Kim Ukura
My thirty-pound box of books from Book Expo America 2016 shipped out from Chicago yesterday and is scheduled to be delivered on Friday, so I’ll be able to talk more about them next week. In the meantime, I’d like to share some takeaways, discoveries, and lessons from #BEA16.
- It’s good to go into BEA excited about at least a few of the books that will be getting buzz there. I was not well prepared before I went to Chicago, so I wasn’t really feeling that excitement when I arrived, or for much of the first day. After attending the Editors’ Buzz session on Wednesday afternoon, and then spending some time on Wednesday night with a very helpful newsletter shared in the Book Bloggers at BEA Facebook group, I went into the next two days with a list, a plan…and finally, a sense of excitement.
- BEA itself didn’t seem to feel much excitement on the first day, really. The floor didn’t open until early afternoon, and I wasn’t enthused enough by the morning offerings at the Bloggers Conference to attend any of them. (I suspect I won’t be invited back to “advise” on that again.) The afternoon Table Talks session was new this year, and I did go to that. I think the idea was good–a blend of networking and substantive content as attendees chose three roundtable conversations to join within the two-hour block–but it may have overreached a bit. There were sixteen topics to pick from, but some were rather similar; some really might have worked better in a panel or workshop setting with more time devoted to them, and the quality of discussion varied widely. (Check out the reports from Armchair BEA‘s on-site correspondents for more on the Bloggers Conference.)
- After that slow-ish start, my best day of BEA was Thursday, Day 2 and the first full day on the floor. I started the day at a meetup with Shelf Awareness editors and contributors, went around to various publishers picking up galleys I actually wanted, and spent the afternoon catching up with book blogger friends while waiting in various lines at the Penguin Random House booth (whose staff had an excellent, well-organized system in place to manage their author signings). After a couple of days of iffy weather, the afternoon and evening were near-perfect, and I spent them out and about in Chicago with “the BEA Girls”–my roommate Kim, Candace, and Sheila. After some great Chicago deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, we walked back to the hotel along Lake Shore Drive, snapping photos as the sun set.
- Although BEA will return to New York City next year, I really liked this year’s location in Chicago! A few reasons why:
- The McCormick Place Convention Center felt both more spacious and more organized than the Javits–and with carpeting almost everywhere, was also easier on the feet. (Also, as other bloggers have mentioned, there were better food choices and plenty of restrooms!)
- McCormick Place adjoins a hotel. The Hyatt Regency wasn’t the cheapest lodging option, but the convenience was utterly worth it. There was still plenty of walking, but there was no need to manage transportation (or even go outside).
- There were almost no after-hours social events organized for bloggers since we were away from the publishers’ home turf. That made the atmosphere feel less rushed and hectic, and provided opportunities for more spontaneous and intimate gatherings…or for quiet time in hotel rooms getting acquainted with our new books.
- I arrived at BEA more excited about the people I’d see there than the books, and even after I came up with a book plan, that didn’t change. BEA has become, above all else, my place and time to be with my tribe.
- Being with my tribe usually recharges my enthusiasm and interest for both reading and blogging, and I’m pleased to report that this year’s BEA experience accomplished that beautifully! Now, I just need time to harness that enthusiasm and actually put it to work.
- I’ll also need to work on cultivating ways to nurture and sustain that enthusiasm because I may not be able to give it a BEA booster shot for another few years. I already know I won’t be going in 2017 when it returns to its customary location (New York) and time (after Memorial Day)–I’ll be spending that week in Italy instead! Depending on when my stepson and nephew’s respective high-school graduations take place, I may not make it in 2018 either.
And since I really hate to think about not being with my tribe again until 2019, I intend to indulge in my 2016 memories just a bit longer.