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Book Expo America: My First-Time BEA Adventure!

Last year I made it a goal to attend Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City.  I’m so thrilled I achieved my goal and was able to go just a few weeks ago – it was fantastic!

What is Book Expo America?

Book Expo America or BEA is basically book heaven for book lovers and nerds like me.  Here is the formal description taken from the Book Expo America website:

BookExpo provides a focused professional environment to discover emerging authors and the next blockbuster titles, engage with the world’s most influential publishers and learn from industry leaders and peers.  BookExpo culminates with BookCon, our two day Fan event where storytelling and pop culture collide.

My Experience

Overall, my first-time experience at BEA was great.  I opted to drive into the city since I live one state over from New York.  If you’re local and plan to either drive or take the train or other local transportation be sure to budget accordinglythat’s my first tip. Have enough money for parking, tolls, gas, or other fees like food.  Of course if you’re staying at a local hotel you’ll also want to ensure you include those expenses into your budget as well.

Upon my arrival at the Jacob Javits Center I was impressed with how smoothly the registration and check-in process went.  The line to check-in was a bit long, but it moved very quickly.  Once I received my badge, I immediately took my suitcase to the baggage claim area.  Yes, I brought a suitcase with me.  I was told to bring a suitcase so it will be easier to carry all of the free books you’ll receive.  So that’s my second tip: bring a rolling suitcase.  Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.  Also, be sure to have a few single dollars on hand to check your suitcase.  I paid $3.00, but that price may increase for next year and beyond.

After my suitcase was checked I made my way up the escalator to the main floor.  I was initially overwhelmed with how huge it was – there was so much to see!  However, once I scoped out the main publishers (big publishers and smaller independent ones too) I wanted to network with on the map it was less confusing and overwhelming.  Also, it was easy to spot many of the publishers from their banners and signage.

It was great to meet so many publishers and subscription box owners who I connect with on a regular basis in person!  I also enjoyed making some new connections, networking with other bloggers, meeting celebrities and well-known authors.  It was also interesting to see all of ARCs (advance review copies) of books being signed and handed out as freebies to attendees.  My suitcase was filled to the brim with nothing but books and publisher catalogs!

In addition to networking with different publishers, there were also various author discussions taking place on the main stage and at other areas.  The one thing I didn’t notice was a session that specifically targeted to book bloggers. I would have loved to see something like this on the agenda.

Hanging out with the creators of the Lit Joy Crate subscription box at one of the BEA after parties.

My two final tips are:

1) Wear comfortable shoes – preferably flats.  You’ll be doing a ton of walking!  And if you wear a Fitbit like me – bring it with you.  I racked up over 20,000 steps on the day I attended BEA.

2. Bring your phone charger – This is crucial especially if you’re a blogger.  Although I brought my charger with me, I left it in the car like a moron!  I was not about to walk all the way back to the garage where I parked so I had to make due without it for the day while at the expo.  Luckily, a few people were nice enough to share their chargers with me, but not everyone I asked was so friendly and willing to share.  Long story short, bring your own charger with you.  There are plenty of charging stations located throughout the Javits Center on the main floor.

Here are a few other tips from the BEA website to make your experience more enjoyable:

WATER—bring either a Camel-Bak or refillable water bottle to have on the go, all of that walking builds up quite a thirst!

EXTRA LAYERS—pack a light sweatshirt or sweater, running around the exhibit floor may make you hot, but once you enter a conference or leave the exhibit floor, you may get a bit chilly.

PACE YOURSELF!—don’t rush! You have three days to walk the floor. Take a break every few hours to relax and calm down from the hustle and bustle of the exhibit floor and Autographing Area.

BREAKFAST—be sure to have breakfast before heading to BookExpo even the smallest amount of food will give you hours of energy to carry you till lunch.

EAT ON-SITE—scope out the food court for food allergies, budget, and acquired taste options. Be sure to grab lunch so you are energized for the afternoon.

Interested in attending BookExpo or BookCon next year?
 It will be held in New York City at the Jacob Javits Center on May 30 – June 1, 2018.  I look forward to hopefully attending again next year!

Your turn: Have you ever attended BookExpo or BookCon?  What was your experience like?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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