BEA and BBC Retrospective

I’m probably the last BEA attendee to post a retrospective, but here it is anyway!

My husband and I spent some days sightseeing in NYC once Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention were over. I did the standard touristy things, like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We took a twilight boat tour, and otherwise tried not to spend money. We did lots of walking around and taking pictures (none of which I’ve looked at yet). It was tons of fun and just the sanity break that I needed.  I’m back to Chicagoland now.

This post is some of my impressions of my time attending the conventions.

Remember what I said before I went, that I didn’t really want books? Before I left, I felt a little wary of the books forced on me. I worried that I wouldn’t feel connected with BEA since I don’t read many Advanced Reading Copies; in fact, although I’ve been blogging for three years, I’ve only been accepting review copies since April.

All those concerns were rather accurately realized. Although I loved the idea of BEA, I didn’t really want or need most of the books that were being advertised to me. (My husband said, “you spent a lot of money to be advertised to” and he’s not that far off.) I am not a book seller or a librarian, and it seemed the majority of the displays were for those who would be ordering the books. I felt a bit lost at BEA, wondering why I was there. I did enjoy meeting some of my son’s favorite children’s book authors and I got a few ARCs that look interesting (one I’m very excited about). But in general, I felt I had no place at BEA.

To make it worse, when I first walked in to the convention hall on Wednesday morning, I tried to start a conversation with one of the children’s book publishers. You should know I was totally nervous. When I told him I was a book blogger, his comment was scathing: “Oh, so this is a big deal for you. You’re here to get as much as you can, huh.”

I was a bit embarrassed, appalled, and shamed. I am not here to just get as much as I can. I don’t even want most of what I see! I came for the Book Blogger Convention  and since BEA is included in it, I thought I’d come see what it’s about.

I can see where he’s coming from — all the posts I read prior to BEA made it sound like bloggers are rather eager to get free books. But still, his comment made me less than eager to try to talk to any other publishers.

I avoided the exhibits and instead waited in signing lines because that seemed less intimidating. I didn’t want to be accused of being grabby. Waiting in line, they expect me to take a book.

I figured out my place on Thursday morning just before I left the exhibit hall for the last time, when I was walking along with Teresa of Shelf Love. We started chatting with representatives from Yale University Press. And it was fun! I feel silly, but I didn’t take the ARC. I probably should have; it may have opened up more opportunities. Talking was still fun, though. They understood, I think, my classics focus. I realized that I should have been talking to publishers all along, instead of being so worried. I kind of missed my chance.

Meeting other bloggers was wonderful. I went to lunch with a few on Thursday, then I missed the book blogger social (I went back to my hotel after lunch, then I couldn’t find a cab and I absolutely could not walk I was so sore…). Friday’s Book Blogger Convention was lots of fun, and I only wish I did more networking with the professionals and met far more bloggers. I only touched the surface of meeting people. There are so many books bloggers! I’ll touch on some bloggers I’ve recently found in another post at some point. I’ve been meaning to do that all along anyway.

I enjoyed being a part of a panel. I’ll share some of my thoughts in another post at some point.

Highlights for me were the children’s book author signings. A few of the authors were above and beyond nice to me.

I was very sad that I was unable to get tickets for the Elephant and Piggie signing by Mo Willems, but I did get to meet the two of them. This made Raisin’s day. I talked to him on Wednesday night. Apparently, he told all his preschool friends Thursday that I met Elephant and Piggie. They had no idea what he was talking about.

The children’s picture books I took home were these. (I might post on some of these another time.)

  • Skippyjon Jones Class Action by Judy Schachner (Dutton’s Children’s Books). She wore the Skippyjon Jones ears and drew a picture inscribed to “Raisin-ito” (Except with my son’s real name.)
  • Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisis Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (Chronicle Books). Although I had this inscribed to my son, it’s so lovely I might keep it on my shelf until he’s old enough to appreciate it!
  • Home for Christmas by Jan Brett (Putnam). Oh how I love her illustrations! At one point on this blog, I think I said I wasn’t crazy about it. I love it now. Always so detailed and accurate. This is a lovely Christmas-y story about family and growing up.
  • Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney (Viking). I love reading the llama stories out loud. Since my son and I seem to be always sick, I think he’s really going to relate to this one!
  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick). So cute.
  • Dinosaur vs. The Potty and Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea (Disney Hyperion). Love.
  • Ruby Lee the Bumblebee: A Bee of Possibility by Dawn Matheson, illustrated by Pamela Barcita (Bumblebee Publishing)
  • Fraidy Cat by Melinda Chambers, illustrated by Sue Ann Maxwell Spiker (Headline Kids)
  • I Love My Planet Earth by Laura Gates Galvin, illustrated by Sally Vitsky (Palm Publishing)
  • The Goodbye Window by Marie Rudd, illustrated by Claudia Whitmeyer Ross (Girlie Bird Press)
  • Brookie’s Itty Bitty Book of Words by Marie Rudd, illustrated by Claudia Ross (Girlie Bird Press)
  • Anything’s Possible by Armando Rodriguez (Legwork Team Publishing)
  • Bernie the Beach Ball Bounces Back by Lois Bernzott Boccio (Legwork Team Publishing)

Non-picture books and adult books were these:

  • The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright (Peachtree). A middle-grade story about a cat and mouse friendship in a cafe that Charles Dickens frequents.
  • Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms by Carmela Ciuraru (HarperCollins). A series of mini-biographies of 16 authors with pseudonyms. I really like this so far. I was first in line so I also got a key chain. Woo hoo!
  • Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way (Ecco). A memoir. I’m not normally a memoir reader, but I do like the cooking and food memoirs I’ve read. She was training to be a cook when she lost of her sense of smell.
  • Ziggy Comes Up Short by Tom Wilson.

In the future, I could see myself attending the Book Blogger Convention and socials, but I probably won’t plan on BEA again. I realize I missed my chance to network, but also, I realized that networking is not that important to me. I want to focus on what I want to read, not what the publishers are advertising each season. None of this is very surprising to me.

We’ll see what the future holds. As always, I hope we have plenty of discussions here on Rebecca Reads about the classics — and some great picture books too!

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Wow I can’t believe the publisher said that to you, how crazy. I had nothing but good responses from those I talked to, but then I tend to stick to the smaller university presses. I have to say that last year I felt more like you – completely overwhelmed and no idea what to do, feeling out of place, and it really really helps to find someone to tag along with for a bit. This year was much better. So I would say that if you went again you might find it better. But yeah I talk to publishers and often declined the books they offered just because I want to be super sure before I take anything.

    Was so great to meet you though and I’m really glad you went. I hope that you still do BBC again at least too.

  2. Ugh, what a jerky comment from that publisher! That would have bothered me too. I’m afraid I’d be overwhelmed by BEA. Actually, I find the idea of meeting bloggers and going to the blogger event more appealing than BEA. I have been waiting days to read about your experience since we have similar tastes. Most of the posts I see are so YA focused, I wonder if there would be anything for me there.

    I can’t wait to read your panel experience!

  3. Haha ok this is why I feel like I’ve never gotten around to going to BEA or like conferences. I’m not really a book hound as much as I’m a starstruck book geek and would love to see authors/publishers. I don’t really love the idea of too many books to take home. It looks like you had a good time, considering and the pictures are just darling!

  4. That’s ironic that the first publisher you talked to assumed you were there for free stuff, if that’s their view of bloggers they probably would have appreciated having a conversation with someone who wasn’t interested in it. I can understand you not wanting the books, sometimes getting them is nice and it enables you to discuss what everyone else is discussing, but it takes time away from the books of your choice.

    Despite not enjoying it it’s good your experience confirmed your thoughts on what you want to write about. Glad to hear you did enjoy BBC, though!

    1. Charlie » I think he was surprised by my response, since I essentially said, “no, I”m actually not here for free stuff.” But I did mostly enjoy it, despite everything that was overwhelming and shaming about it.

    1. Amy @ My Friend Amy » Raisin is enjoying the picture books, although I don’t think he realizes just how long I stood in line to get them …..

  5. I heard about so much bad behavior from bloggers this year and last that I’m not surprised the publisher said that, though he ought to have been more professional and kept his mouth shut.

    I’m sad I didn’t get to go, but not for the book aspect. Purely for the social aspects. I doubt I’ll plan to go again, though. ALA is a lot less crazy and a lot more personal, and while I won’t get to meet as many bloggers there, I think it would be better for me.

    1. Amanda » I’m sorry you didn’t make it too because I was hoping to meet you. But I do know that somehow we’ll meet up somewhere…it’s a small world, and if ALA comes to Chicago and you’re coming, I”ll make sure to be there!!

  6. What that publisher said was totally inappropriate! But given how others have hyped up BEA as a giant book giveaway, I’m honestly not surprised that the publisher you talked to said that.

    I do not accept ARCs (other than occasional copy I receive from LibraryThing) and although I read a lot of books published in the last decade, I feel like my experiences with BEA if I even went would mirror how you experienced it. I don’t focus on who published the books I read, I merely focus on the content of the books themselves. I’m glad you had a good time with BBC and your panel.

    1. Christina » I found it an interesting experience to suddenly try to think about where the books came from! I didn’t prepare for BEA at all. But it was fun 🙂

  7. I really, really wish I could write what I’m actually thinking of that completely inappropriate and rude comment that was flung at you. What a complete jerk. I, too, had similar impressions of BEA in that I felt that the actual exhibit booths made me feel out of place – I instead was much, MUCH more comfortable attending smaller events and then Book Blogger Convention on Friday. Next year, I think I will come early, but only attend the specialized events or author signings, and then have dinner with other bloggers, and of course BBC. Meeting other book bloggers on Friday was the most fun of all – I’m sorry I missed you, although I did attend the panel discussion you were on!

    1. Coffee and a Book Chick » I pretty much knew my impression would be like it was — that BBC was for me but not BEA. But it was still fun anyway. I think many book bloggers feel the same way.

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about that book publisher — that was very unprofessional and inappropriate. I’ve never been to BEA/BBC or ALA, though I’d love to go someday. I’ve only ever gone to local book festivals like the Texas Book Festival in Austin and the St. Petersburg (FL) Festival of reading, both of which I enjoyed. They have a different focus though, really just authors promoting their books, very few freebies.

    But BBC really sounds like fun! I wish I could go someday and meet all the other bloggers — and go to all those amazing bookstores in NY!

    1. Karen K. » ironically, I didn’t make it to any of the bookstores! I had plenty of books though, and since i carried them on the plane, I don’t think I could have carried any extras from a book store! Ah well!

  9. As I think you know, I was relieved that there weren’t as many books on offer as some had led me to believe. I enjoyed it well enough and found the people from smaller presses to be easy to talk to and interested in really talking books (like the folks at YaleUP were), but whether I go back will almost totally depend on what other bloggers are going. I live close enough, too, that if I go to BBC, I might as well go a couple of days early and check out BEA. I don’t think I’d do a whole week, though. Arriving on Wednesday was just about perfect.

    1. Teresa » I think you’re right, just a day or two is plenty of BEA. I will be much better at chatting with people if I were to do it again…Thanks for your great example of how it is done. I am just not an extroverted person, so it was hard on my own.

  10. I missed almost all of those picture books! Good job! I too, spend a lot of time in the autograph lines because I like the chance to meet the authors – even just for that one minute. But next time you walk the exhibit floor at BEA, come with me. We’ll get it done right. (In fact, working the floor is what I wrote about today meaning that may have simply tied for the last BEA post.)

    Wonderful to meet you and share table time during BBC!

    1. MotherReader » love your post on walking the exhibit floor! Some time I’ll try a conference again. Not sure if it will be BEA, though…And it was great meeting you too!

  11. It was great meeting you on Friday when your panel broke up into groups. At the BEA I had a few people say to me “Oh you’re just a blogger” which made me feel very small indeed. And I agree that only a day or two at BEA is sufficient. The best part for me was meeting other bloggers.

  12. I went primarily for BBC – but since it’s a cross-country trip for me, it’s not worth making without staying a few extra days, and I’m glad I did check out BEA. I think just a day of it would be plenty for me on future trips, although I definitely enjoyed the exhibit floor more when I was with someone else. I’m not a particularly good networker myself – the most useful networking I did was completely unexpected and actually related to my day job, not my book blog!

    And I heard about your publisher encounter – sheesh, some people!

    Meeting and spending time with fellow bloggers was the real draw for me – and I’m really glad you were part of my panel at BBC!

  13. I’ve been to BEA twice when it was in Los Angeles and found it just okay. I would have loved to have gone to the Book Blogger Convention, though. The Elephant and Piggie pics are great! Those books crack me and my daughters up every time.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}