Yesterday, I went to BEA (Book Expo America) in NYC for probably, the last time. (Next year, it’s in Chicago and I don’t see myself flying there to attend.) I picked up a friend at 6:30am and after hitting some of the worst traffic of my life (thank you very much, East Rutherford), we got to BEA at 11:30. We met up with my friend, Jill, and had lunch with our BookPage editor, Cat, who is as charming in real life as she is via email.
After lunch, my friends and I stopped at all the vendors and scrounged for ARCs. I’m always looking for new YA and this year there didn’t seem to be much. I got a ton of middle grade titles including Lauren DeStefano’s A Curious Tale of the In-Between which is off the hook. I found a few picture books for my boys and some new adult mysteries to check out. All in all, it was a very subdued BEA. Smaller crowds and fewer books. I wasn’t disappointed as BEA is my most favorite day of the year. But I wasn’t wowed like in years past where I scored Catching Fire, Ally Condie’s Matched, or a signed book by Holly Black.
I’ve been going to BEA for the past — I don’t know — seven years, maybe eight. The first year I went I was a library science student at Rutgers and I got free tickets. I came home with a few books, one on houseplants a vendor was nice enough to give me. As a student, I didn’t warrant too many freebies. After all, I wasn’t a librarian yet doing large book orders.
One of my favorite BEA memories was stumbling upon a book signing by the producer of Days of Our Lives a.k.a my mother’s most favorite soap opera in the world. And you know who else was there? Kristian Alfonso – the beautiful Hope Brady! I hopped in a relatively short line and got my mom a signed book about the soap. I was so excited I called my parent’s house right away and spoke to my very uninterested father because my mom was working at the time.
BEA has always made me feel like I was part of a special, albeit large, book club. I’d chat up other librarians on line and we’d talk about YA books we were excited about and we’d sound giddy talking about authors we wanted to meet. I had no qualms about marching up to publishers and telling them I loved their newest releases or that I wanted to see more YA mysteries. Just yesterday, I told Publishers Weekly that I loved that they’re reviewing indie books now, but that they need to email the authors to tell them the review it up. (I found mine by Googling.) Anyway, the point is, at BEA, librarians, authors, bloggers, reviewers can connect with publishers and book industry insiders.
Sadly, yesterday was probably my last BEA hurrah. I’m not gonna lie — I’m bummed.
I’m gonna miss all those free books.