Search This Blog

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Expo America 2013 - Successes and Failures

So, I wanted to talk a little bit about what I saw that worked and didn't work.  I must say, after the initial shock of Thursday, the rest of the show was awesome and I will have a list of reminders for Future Self to make my experience even better next year.  It will already be better, because my friend Terri of Alexia's Books and Such has sworn she'll be up for next year's event.  See, P, now you have to come.  I've already told everyone.

I didn't want to mention the quality and quantity of the giveaways as that is a given or the fantastic authors on site this year. I did feel quite lucky to be able to attend and I thank Terri for talking me into starting a blog in the first place. (I owe all my free books to you, but that doesn't mean you can have them...well, not all of them.) Things seemed to run smoothly without any drama, well, other than the mob scene at Chronicle Books for Grumpy Cat.

I also didn't necessarily want to add all the positive things from the show, like networking, meeting new bloggers, etc, as that is not unique to this year. 

Anyway, without further ado...

So, what worked this year?
1. After the initial day of overflow from the autographing tables, the staffers set up the dividers with the blue partitions so they could better control the runoff from the chutes in front of the table. While it did make it a bit more difficult to get to the end of the line, it did keep the lines much more organized and I’d like to believe, helped prevent cutting in line.

2. Random House and other publishers that adopted the free ticket strategy for autographings were on the mark. The tickets were available starting a half hour before the signing and if you had a ticket you were guaranteed a book. It freed people up to go take care of other things before hopping back on line for the book signing. It was a brilliant strategy. Although, I would point out the lines were all kind of parallel to the autographing tables and right in from of the Downtown stage, so if there was more than one big name signing at once, the lines became somewhat blurred and difficult to maneuver through if one had to make a quick pit stop elsewhere.

3. The Power Readers program seemed to have been much improved upon from last year. I know when I was on line for Diana Gabaldon, I was watching people scoop themselves so hot, fresh popped popcorn. It made my mouth water just looking at it. And the lounge idea was brilliant. I know there was more than once I was looking for a place to sit if only for a few minutes and I had to try to find a spot so I could pull up some floor. The Power Readers had chairs for crying out loud.

4. The camaraderie of the blogger community was amazing. I heard more than one story of a complete stranger giving a fellow blogger an extra copy of a book when they missed a book they really wanted. It happened to me and I am still amazed by that one selfless act. Since I am a relatively new blogger, I haven’t spent much time in a social environment with other bloggers and it was truly heartwarming.

5. I didn’t see a whole lot of ill behavior other than the debacle over the pins for Neil Gaiman’s book. I had heard all kinds of horror stories about previous years, including a story of someone getting bit over a book there were plenty of copies of. Everyone seemed to be very well behaved and I didn’t witness any kind of incident. Everyone seemed to act like mature, professional adults. No pushing or shoving.

6. Grumpy Cat!!!

7. The booth signings were well organized and even the long lines seemed to move quickly.  I actually got more things signed at the booths rather than the tables since the run off from the chutes was an issue at first.

What didn’t work this year?
1. I think Penguin could have laid out their galleys to allow easier access. The galleys were set up against the inner walls of their booth. It was fine if nothing was happening, but to get to the books, you had to navigate all the round tables set up for them to do their business and if there was a signing when a galley was dropped, you had to navigate that as well. I felt like I was always in the way or intruding when I tried to check out the books. If they put the galleys to the outside of their booth, Expo goers would have an easier time picking up the books without getting in the way of Penguin doing business.

2. A lot of big name authors were all signing early on Thursday and at the same time. It made it difficult to navigate anywhere near the tables and if you weren’t first in line, you had very little chance of making it to another table for a signing that coincided. I would have preferred the big authors to have been spread out more across all three days.

3. Some of the publishers did not provide enough copies of the books for signings for the demand. This left more than a few disgruntled Event goers including yours truly. The YA signings were by far the most heavily sought after genre and some of those signings had far too few books for the number of people seeking them out.

4. The BEA T-shirt booth ran out of most sizes before the first day was even half over. There were three designs and I will tell you, the cupcake design was not quite so popular. My suggestion for anyone wanting to purchase a t-shirt next year, order it when you register for BEA. That way, you get the size you want and you just have to pick it up at the booth. I didn’t realize it was going to be such an issue, or I would have done so. Sorry about that, P.

5. All the publishers had their event schedules out, but you had to get to their booths to pick them up and by then, you could have missed things, like me. I don’t know if it would be feasible to have the events schedules at the registration table or to publish all of them in the daily newspaper. If the publishers had enough advance knowledge of their events schedule, it could be posted on the BEA website. I found a lot of the galley giveaways on line prior to the show, but not what day and time they were going to be dropped, so I did miss some things I really wanted to pick up.

6. The food court was a FAIL for the Book Bloggers Convention. Since I already discussed my irritation previously, I will simply say that next year I might bring my lunch.

7. While the Power Reader has improved tremendously from the prior year, I think BEA should make more of an effort to have more going on the last day and publishers should not be so premature in starting to take down their booths. Some booths only had giveaways on Thursday and Friday. They should try to keep some things for Saturday.

8. While wheeled luggage was not supposed to be allowed, I saw more than a few wheeled suitcases being dragged around.  In fairness, they were the small, carry on sized suitcases, but still.  I'm sure everyone would like to have a box on wheels, but there is a reason they are not allowed on the floor.  I would have loved to have a small wheelie thing as after four days of lugging books around, my neck and shoulders were killing me and they still are.

9. There should be an option on the BEA website to download your agenda to your phone app.  I didn't see anything, unless I missed it.  I spent a lot of time going through the website and adding things to my program only to find that I needed to do it again for my phone.  I just didn't have the time.  There were certainly time the phone would have been easier to manage.


  1. Great post! I wish all publishers would hand out free tickets, as that really helps if you have several galley drops at the same time. And book bloggers are the best! They are some of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met. So glad you got to experience it for yourself! :)

    Agree about Penguin, as they've been doing that for a few years now. Putting the galleys against the wall in the middle of their booth interrupts their meetings and just annoys everyone. Think ahead people!

    I've heard several complaints about the BBC lunch. They need to either schedule all of the convention lunches at different times or go back to the box lunches.

    Definitely agree with you about the last day! So many publishers seem to blow off the last day when it comes to galley drops, which is a little annoying if you can only attend the last day or are a Power Reader. And what's the deal with packing up early? Stay and talk to us!

    Thanks for all of your great posts! It's the next best thing to being there. And way to put me on the spot about going next year! :)

  2. Putting you on the spot was my intention. I will coerce you any way I can and I am not above using guilt tactics. You must come with me next year. There is courage and strength in numbers. Besides, you know I'd totally have your back. Tag teaming. That's what it's all about.

    Box lunches would be an excellent idea rather than lunch vouchers for BBC. I really should have taken a picture of the madness that was the food court.