I once likened ALA as to being summer camp for book nerds (because at camp, you’re sort of supposed to WORK and edumacate yourself and stuff). Now I shall assert that Book Expo America is like Disneyland for book nerds.
I wasn’t able to attend BEA this year * but my most excellent coworker Stephanie did, and here’s her summation of the wonderfulness:
Though the audience is more diverse, Book Expo is really like any other library conference: it is like going to an amusement park. The day is mostly standing in lines, but instead of waiting for a ride, it is waiting for an author. In both cases, the main goal only lasts seconds long, with a thrilling high that is quickly lost once it is realized that another line a waits. The cycle then repeats itself until you find yourself leaned up against a wall with a heavy bag and aching feet in the late afternoon (not that I speak from experience). My first time at BEA occurred weeks ago, and here are some interesting things I learned:
1. Food is optional. This is new for me, since I live to eat. I found myself not caring for food, at least while I was at the Javits, unless it was to get a whoopee pie from Sarah Dessen. It was all about waiting in lines and chatting up fellow book lovers.
2. A strong bag is a must. Though shuttles to hotels were offered, traffic in New York City is horrible and by foot seemed to be the best (since no subway lines run that close to the Javits Convention Center). Not only were books received in autograph lines, but also when visiting the publishers’ booths. Which brings me to my next point . . . .
3. The power of asking. I hate asking for things; I don’t know why, I just do. So, when a kind blogger told me all I had to do was ask for a book, and I might get it, it was nerve wracking. So, I had to do the thing I hate the most, initiate conversation with the purpose of getting something; this then had to happen over and over again throughout the day. The worse thing that happened, and it did, was being told that the book was gone or not available. The best, receiving books that I would never get, like Fateful by Claudia Gray, featuring…wait for it . . . .werewolves on the Titanic (yes, I did just let out a squeal).
4. Maureen Johnson is awesome. Granted, if you followed her twitter page, you would know this. But, she actually takes time to talk to her readers, no matter how long the line is. Granted, all the authors I met were awesome, but only Maureen discussed the right time to squeak a toy horn with me.
5. I am addicted. Granted, on the first day, I was feeling down about the conference. New York City was hard to navigate, and I did not know how the conference worked. By Thursday, not only did my friend and I figure out the subway system, we became autograph line pros. Now, I cannot wait to go back next year. We met great people, whether they were book fans, book sellers, authors, or bloggers, and could not get over how much New York City had to offer.
So, if you ever get the chance to check out any author event, I would recommend that you do. Be sure to wear your nerdfighter gear, jump and down, and do not worry about saying something foolish . . . because you will (I did tell once Sara Rees Brennan that my twitter icon was Leslie Knope eating a pancake; I still don’t know why). Happy reading!
*So even though I wasn’t able attend in 2011, I will definitely be attending in 2012, since I just learned I’ve been chosen as the Official BEA Librarian Blogger for 2012!