Welcome to part 2 of my BEA recap. Where the first part was all about the highlights and fun things I did, this part will be all about the actual event.
This year, BEA was held in Chicago which as we were told, resulted in 1000 more attendees from Illinois (I mean, obviously?) BookExpo boasted that there were also more than 230 more international attendees this year and said that having BEA in Chicago meant that they reached a more diverse audience than they had in the past. All of this might be true but the question is was Chicago > New York?
Financially, Chicago was definitely better for me than New York but I don’t know if the event itself was better.
I overheard several conversations at the event talking about how the setup of this particular BEA was disadvantageous to them. Instead of the exhibition hall being a mix of several things, it was divided such that there was one side with all the publishers and booths that attendees would want to visit and the other side that was completely neglected and empty of attendees. It was actually kind of really sad. I think that is definitely one thing that BEA did better last year. It was also mentioned that having BEA in Chicago meant that less industry professionals came.
This year however, the lines were definitely handled a lot better and instead of multiple disastrous cases involving us lining up early and publishers ignoring the line, there was only one stampede. Basically what happened was that Macmillan was doing a drop for tickets for 4 major signings and a bunch of us decided we really wanted them tickets so we were going to start a line early. Everyone was polite in this line and we did our best to make sure we weren’t blocking any booths but because Macmillan had stated they didn’t want any lines until the time of the drop, when it was time, our fancy line was not acknowledged and everyone ended up running to form a new line for the ticket drop. Tote bags were torn, feet were stepped on, chaos ensued. #BEA2016sobstories
One thing I did this year that I didn’t do last year was BookCon. I wasn’t flying this year so I thought I might as well stay longer and see what BookCon was all about. Many of you have heard horror stories and heard people warn to not go to BookCon and I am here to tell you that it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be? I also went a lot later and only went to one ticketed signing so I didn’t actually have to fight the crowds in the same way many other people had to.
A major difference I felt this year was that a lot more people at the conference were vary of book bloggers. I had one person ask me (in the most obnoxious way possible) if I got paid to blog. Two different publicists from two different publishing houses also seemed to have formed opinions about book bloggers and when I mentioned I was one, they said the term with a certain contempt that it threw me off. A person asked what I did and when I said I was a book blogger, they just stopped talking to me. It was actually kind of hurtful because I literally don’t know what is wrong with being a book blogger. We love books and we promote the heck out of them. We don’t have the same influence and booksellers and librarians but we promote books in so many ways. I will stop the rambling now so this post doesn’t turn into a rant about why people need to not be mean to book bloggers and stop looking down on us.
Overall, I don’t think BEA this year was better than BEA last year. Both events came with their set of advantages and disadvantages as will be the case with any event but with Chicago, there was a bigger venue and lines were better managed so yay? I also met so many more people this year because I was a shy turtle last year but I did miss my peeps from last year.
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