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!