For What It's Worth

Monday, June 9, 2014

BEA 2014 Wrap-up post…the good, the bad, and the clusterf*ck

I headed off to NYC and my 4th time at BEA (Book Expo America). This event has changed so much over the years as the crowds increase and the focus has shifted from book buyers/librarians to bloggers and the general public. There have been a lot of growing pains and (sadly) fights between the reading community. I had no idea what to expect this year going in.

Warning…. Long post ahead!

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Penguin booth

The Good:

~ I think this was most organized I have ever seen BEA. Booths were clearly marked and well staffed. The autographing area, which is usually the most stressful place to be, was a well oiled machine with white erase boards clearly stating where to start lines. Most booths had start/middle/end of the line signs so there was less confusion.

~ The publishers were split up this year. Typically all of the big pubs are clustered in one area making for complete chaos and mobs when it comes to signings or book drops. This year one side of Javits center had Harper, Penguin, Sourcebooks while the other had Little Brown, Hachette, Macmillan, Harlequin (to name a few). Sure, this made for more walking back and forth and I missed out on a lot of drops but it also spread out the crazy & ensured that everyone got something.

~ I noticed a marked difference on how people behaved this year. No roaming gangs hoarding ALL the books, we lined up in a neat, orderly fashion. A lot of us have done this multiple times and know the drill now. I saw a lot of people taking the time to help people new to the event.
~ Javits has more food options and affordable snacks.

~ I got to see a lot of friends this year and actually spend time talking. I even got to eat lunch! That never happens lol


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Day 1 book haul


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Days 2 & 3 book hauls


The Bad:

~ For some reason the publishers STILL don’t understand the high demand for YA and a few didn’t want to start lines until 10 minutes before a book drop. I TRULY understand how they hate having to deal with large crowds surrounding their booth but I felt that people were very well behaved and professional this year. The lines are coming so just form them early and stay on top of things. Believe me….you don’t want 100’s of people swarming towards you 10 minutes before the book drop/signing. We did that years ago – which is why everyone switched to timed events. So why backtrack this year??

~ More about the lines. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that any book I want requires a one hour wait (sometimes more for a very popular author/title). There used to be random unscheduled drops but no more. Every single thing must be scheduled and because of the waits there is overlap and you just have to be flexible and let some stuff go.

~ I didn’t feel like I was able to see as many upcoming titles as in past years. All of the pubs used to bring the fall titles for you to peruse (not to take). It was always nice chatting with the publicists to find out what they’re excited about and see pretty covers. Sourcebooks did have a full display but every time I tried to look at something they kept accusing me of trying to steal it. lol

~ There were more samplers ( A small book containing only the first few chapters of an upcoming book) this year, which personally, I don’t want to wait in line for. There were also older titles, now out in paperback, rather than an ARC of the recent book. There were less BIG titles. Don't get me wrong - I’m happy with everything I got – I’m just noting a change that I see happening. The big popular ARC’s seem to be reserved for ALA these days.

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Let’s not bring a taxidermy fox to BEA next year okay?

The Clusterf*ck:

Saturday was Book Con, an event that coincides with BEA and invites the public to join in and experience the publishing world, interact with authors, celebrities and attend panels.

OK – soooooo. This was a disaster. I understand that BEA needs to remain relevant and expanding outside librarians/book sellers and bloggers is probably a great idea.

BUT.

Dear Book Con…You cannot close off half the convention center, cramming 10,000 (# of tickets sold – I’m not sure how many people actually came) new BookCon attendees - mixed with BEA attendees to one side and also take away most of the volunteer staff and expect this to run smoothly.

I can’t even explain what a mess this was. I felt bad for everyone attending. The BEA people all of a sudden got ditched. The other side of the floor was still open to us but almost nothing other than a few book drops happened on that side for the day. It’s like BEA just stopped. The Book Con people felt left out since they all of a sudden hit a line with security telling them no entry to that side while BEA people were allowed to go back and forth.

The autographing area was woefully understaffed, and what ran so well Thursday and Friday, was a disaster on Saturday. There was no room to form lines. There was pushing, shoving and just general confusion as to what was happening. Everything is free during BEA but on Saturday you had to pay for some signings/books. None of us have a way of knowing that beforehand.

BEA-ers aren’t allowed to bring any rolling bags on the floor (rightfully so!) but on Saturday strollers and wheels with the Book Con people were allowed.

I felt bad for the kids. They would come up to a table, see piles of books, but couldn’t take one because there was a ticketed line they didn’t even know about.

The organizers weren't clear about what actually Book Con was and unprepared for the impact the crowds made on both events.

They are planning on doing this again next year and expanding it to two days but I’ll never go on a Book Con day again. 


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Bathroom book humor

Overall:

As long as you don’t include the Book Con fiasco, I would say this was one of the best BEA’s I’ve gone to other than probably the first time when it was nice and quiet. I got a lot of incredible books, met my favorite authors (I MET Ann Aguirre!!!!!!) and spent time with my blogger pals – Jen At Random, Tabitha Not Yet Read (in a bathroom but it counts right?? lol) Melissa Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf, Jen YA Romantics, Alison Alison Can Read, Pam Midnyte Reader  and my BFF Tori! (If I’m forgetting anyone – which is VERY likely – yell at me)

This BEA kicked my butt though! I’m still trying to recover. My knees hurt, I can barely move and I’m exhausted. I may be getting too old for this! lol

I was very efficient this year and made a BEA Goodreads shelf to try to keep me on track for actually reading all the books this year!

The food post coming soon!

42 comments:

  1. One day, I'm going to get to experience it. Thanks for your thoughts on BookCon. The overlap has always appealed to me but I never realized what kind of logistics nightmare it might be.

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    1. They used to do a Power Reader Pass and they had access to the whole floor and things were fine other than a few growing pains.

      Cramming so many new people into half the space with less help was a really bad idea.

      Delete
  2. Sounds fun :D Well except for bookcon, everyone said it was such a disaster.

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    1. Other than Book con I had a great time this year.

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  3. I always love reading your BEA posts, Karen--but I must protest at the lack of food photos and info! <.<

    It seemed like a lot of drama came out of BEA this year (at least to the casual observer), so I'm glad for anyone who made it out unscathed. As much as I'd like to attend someday, I'm kind of glad I've been sticking to ALA thus far. BEA sounds overwhelming, and with all the other giant events going on it sounds a little confusing as well. Still, ALA doesn't seem to clearly mark galley drops as much, though.

    I'm glad you had a good time overall and came back with lots of great books! I can't wait to hear what you thought of everything.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry - the food post is coming! :-)

      BEA didn't used to have timed drops. The crowds were getting too big though and people were just grabbing. A huge pile of books would be gone in under 5 minutes instead of sitting there all day like the first year I went.

      ALA will be in Orlando in two years so I'll go to that instead of BEA.

      Despite all the insanity, I still enjoy BEA. I also thought it was run very well this year if you don't include Book Con.

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  4. Book Con aside it sounds like a good overall experience. I can't wait to go one of these days

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    1. I hope you do! It's wild but fun :-)

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  5. I still have high hopes for Book Con though I will agree that it was a disaster this time around. Just not well thought out, especially with all the people shoved into that little area. I miss the unscheduled drops! It was so much fun to walk around and then, magically, there were books in front of you. I don't like these lines everywhere, though they do make things more orderly.

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    1. Hopefully they learn from it and change things next year. I know some people are mad about combining them but I don't really care about that - we're all book lovers after all. But there does need to be some advance planning when adding that many people and limiting the space.

      I'm SO upset I missed meeting you!

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  6. wow this book had the good, the bad , and the ugly. Saturday seems like the worst day ever. Glad that you were able to meet other bloggers, and EAT :). It sounds like another wonderful adventure again.

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    1. I always have fun even though it almost kills me lol

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  7. Quote:
    "I even got to eat lunch! That never happens lol"
    I had to smile at this - and at your bathroom encounter ;).
    Quote:
    "For some reason the publishers STILL don’t understand the high demand for YA".
    I'm dumbfounded!

    This event sounds...overwhelming. Kudos to everyone who can make out it unscathed!

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    1. It was so mellow when I first started going that I think I just adapt each year. I imagine if you're new to it it would be overwhelming.

      I also don't worry about getting every book anymore. I just relax and have fun now. That takes LOADS of pressure off.

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  8. Thanks for sharing! I've only been once and that was like half of one day. I really want to go again and truly experience it, but it sounds like it's getting a bit crazy in some ways. I'm glad they are adapting and making some things better though.

    -Lauren

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  9. Well for the most part it seemed to rock until BookCon. Hopefully they will get that straightened out next year now that they know what to expect. It looks like you did well. Glad you had fun for the most part! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Wow, we are on the same wavelength...posted the same day, almost the same title and many of the same points. I agree that BEA as a whole did seem a bit more organized...I loved the "start, middle, end" line boards! I think that had I been able to attend on Friday at least my two good days would have outweighed the two not as good days (the conference and BookCon). I am really glad that we were able to catch up a little bit though! Definitely one of the highlights!

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  11. It was a pretty crazy cluster fuck wasn't it. I agree the book con day was just strange. We normal BEA folk didn't know when things were going to cost and I don't make a habit of carrying cash. I'm glad my flight left early and I left the con by 1pm.

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    1. I left early too. There was nothing I wanted that bad that would make me stay in those crowds!

      Delete
  12. Wonderful, informative post, the BookCon would have freaked me out.

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  13. I heard horror stories about Book Con & saw photoes & videos in IG. Great haul of books, I asked my friend to look for Diamond Thief, unfortunately she wasn't able to find the publisher's stall. I'm starting to think they didn't make it.

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    1. If it was on Saturday - it was almost impossible to get to anything.

      Even on Thursday/Friday - the crowds were better but the way they have the publishers set up this year it was hard to get form one end to the other with everything being a 1 hr wait minimum.

      I had to let a lot go this year.

      Delete
  14. I'm so glad you had a nice time and found BEA to be better organized. There's no way I would want to attend Book Con. NOPE.

    I hope I'll get to see you at Book Bash?

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    1. I still haven't gotten a ticket for Book Bash.

      I
      m on the waiting list and they contacted me twice but by the time I was able to sign in etc I was bumped again lol

      Delete
  15. Ever since first hearing of this event I've dreamed of going and yet given your thoughts as well as those of several other bloggers who had attended I'm now not too sure as it sounds to me as if its an event in danger of its own success.

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    1. "its an event in danger of its own success."

      Yes! the problem is that it needs to expand to survive but as it grows outside of the immediate publishing industry, they get overwhelmed and don't know how to manage the different audiences.

      BEA was very well run this year though. My only complaint is with BookCon on Saturday.

      Delete
    2. Maybe BookCon should be separate from BEA as in separate dates all together. BEA for Summer and BookCon for fall instead of jamming them together. Or just have BookCon follow a week or month after BEA is finished if they want to host them both in Summer.

      Delete
  16. Tori is your BFF? I thought *I* was your bff. Eff that Tori! Hahaha. Totally kidding.

    But seriously, I thought you were posting about how clean the restrooms were and questioned whether or not they weren't in previous years. Eww.

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  17. I think this year was run well too. I have mixed feelings about the book drops. I like the scheduled ones, but yes, I also like the idea of maybe being in the right place at the right time. The only reason I stayed at BookCon was to get that SK book. We left right after. I agree that it seems like the BEA'ers got "ditched." I also love what someone about they're in danger of their own success. I know it's hard to prepare for everything, but that's when you have to get resourceful and find solutions for problems as they're happening.

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  18. "I know it's hard to prepare for everything, but that's when you have to get resourceful and find solutions for problems as they're happening."

    I think that's it in a nutshell Pam! Every year I give them a chance to adjust and every year there's some sort of mass confusion and they never seem to get it. IT's more - fix it AFTER it breaks - than being proactive. It's so frustrating.

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  19. I've heard a lot of people mention how awful BookCon was, but I'm not sure I understood exactly WHY it was such a mess until I read this. Yikes! Clusterfuck is a good word for it...

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  20. I've been waiting for your BEA post, Karen! Thanks for your honest thoughts on the event! I didn't realize that it was an hour wait for EACH book freebie! wow!!!!

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  21. Fantastic post. I agree that the autographing and the drops were much more organized, which made it a better experience. Also agree that I had to wait longer for books, but I think that's a plus because it means that attendees focus on the books they really want, rather than randomly grabbing everything in sight.

    And I agree with Wendy. Where is your food post???

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  22. I'd love to be able to attend BEA one day. It's a blogger dream that one day hopefully will come true. I enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing!

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  23. I've been stalking the BEA posts, it's nice to see all the different opinions of things. Especially since you attend every year and can see the differences. Hopefully one day I can go. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

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