Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BookExpo America 2015

One of the perks of working in publishing is attending BookExpo America (BEA) in May. Think massive booklover’s convention. Publishing houses from all over converge on New York City and take up residence in the Javits Center. The place is swarming with editors, literary agents, authors, and booklovers.  It’s chaos, but good chaos!

I was able to spend half the day on Friday at the Javits Center where all the magic happens. Now, the Javits Center is this massive glass “palace” of sorts in the middle of no man’s land Manhattan. Yes, that is a thing. Basically, you walk as far west as you can before walking into the Hudson River and hit this unsightly neighborhood with construction going on everywhere. It’s ugly. Really ugly. It’s kind of ridiculous that such an eyesore exists only a few blocks from the Empire State Building, but I digress.

Anyway, once you actually get to the Javits Center it’s row after row of publishers peddling their books and promoting their companies. Do you know what that means? Free stuff! Lots and lots of free stuff. I just mill around and get free copies of books that are practically being thrown into the crowd. Free books are great, but what’s even better are that these books usually haven’t been published yet and aren’t available in stores. They’re known as ARCs (advance reader copies), so you get to feel special for a while. Publishers give out other things too like tote bags, pens and pencils, tattoos (I kid you not), and whatever else they can put their logo on.  Then there's just plenty to look at like the books on display and Harry Potter's Monster Book of Monsters.  I may have fangirled over that one a bit...

There are plenty of events to attend too. If you want to learn something about publishing, you can sit in on various talks and seminars (okay, that’s not so fun…). Or you can stand in line and get your books signed by the authors or have a photo-op with one. And there are some major celebrities doing book signings and photo-ops too—Mindy Kaling was there this year and Snooki was there a few years back. Christie Brinkley, who has apparently discovered the fountain of youth, was also at BEA this year to promote her upcoming book. She’s very bubbly.

After a few hours and several laps around the Javits Center (which involves weaving through huge crowds), it’s finally time to call it quits and leave while you’re still able to carry your swag.

It is a ton of fun, but BEA is also a work event for publishing professionals. The downside to BEA is the many meetings that editors and literary agents have to buy and sell books. And depending on if you’re into parties or not, the many parties afterhours can be a drag or a real blast. But the Javits Center is where the fun is if you love freebies, and who doesn’t? And even if you don’t work in publishing, you can still get tickets or attend BookCon on the weekend for a similar experience!

Ok, so BEA can be a bit overwhelming (big crowds, sensory overload, way too many books to see) but the experience is totally worth it.

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