Me and BEA

June 5 and 6 – Jacob Javits Center, NY

Spoiler alert: Throwing yourself into the Book Expo America trade show is a lot like throwing yourself into a mosh pit.  Maybe you’ll come out better for the experience.  Hope!  Hope hard!

Understand first that Jacob Javitz, in Manhattan, is a mammoth exhibition hall.  It’s not meant for the faint of heart.  But I’d brought my bar-code admission ticket, the lines were manageable after rush hour, and I received my ID and lanyard in record time. 

I didn’t attend the entire four day conference. I didn’t get to see any of the special events, or break-out sessions or panel discussions. I just trolled aisle after aisle of publisher displays, marveled at the number of books being promoted, signed, or simply piled up for the taking.  Stood in line at Harlequin, Wiley, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, RWA and smaller publishers like the lovely Shadow Mountain Publishing booth and Ellora’s Cave.  I got bling: a vampire first-aid kit for EC, a whoopee cushion for James Patterson’s new middle-school series, and more tote bags than I need (but who’s complaining?).  Oh, and also the Ellora’s Cave 2012 calendar, autographed by the ManWars-worthy studs, uhm, models (like, are those biceps real? Really?).  After the intense experience that is BEA, I would say: 1) the publishing industry is alive and well, 2) publishers are adjusting as quickly as they can to the digital content revolution,  3) it’s still all about the fun of reading, and 4) don’t sit on a chair in a publisher’s booth without getting permission (practice your “pity-me” smile).

One of the best experiences was my chat with Robert Barrett, co-founder of Autography (  This platform allows an author to digitally sign an e-book.  Whether at an in-person event or remotely, the author can personalize their e-book for the reader.  He showed up later on at a book signing, offering a the book as a digital download free, with a photo of the author as well as her autograph.  Autography can also work as a publisher platform (but really, take a look at the website, it’s very “next hot app” stuff).

More fun were the enhanced barcodes (which I haven’t figured out yet) on books like The Book of Burger by Rachel Ray.  They promise enhanced digital content.  One of the YA books being promoted offered geographical and historical backstory to the main content.  If I could remember the title, I’d point you to it (are you getting now just how busy those two days were?).  Also, the bling!  Don’t forget the bling.

What’s not fun?  Standing in line for a hot title or celebrity author and finding they’re signing postcards.  Or excerpts.  Honest.   More than once, I saw more the line melt when the signing started and word got passed down.  Sweetheart, there are better books available than what you’re offering right now.  Yes, I know there are possible explanations, but it stings.  It really does.

Using two days out of four, one day was given to writer-centric pursuits, and the other to reading, reading and more reading.  Which is why going a second day, and with a friend, changes a person from a well-behaved professional into a raving lunatic fan: 

I’ll be posting book reviews of my faves in a later post.

If you have the chance to go to BEA, make sure your shoes are sturdy, cards are in your back pocket, your phone is set on stun and your wallet crammed with cash.  Next year, I want a third day, to explore the advances in digital publishing.  Especially since almost everything that was seen this year will be “old” in twelve months.


About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

19 thoughts on “Me and BEA

  1. Wow, Susan!
    You seemed to have been overwhelmed in a good way! And good job commenting on the bling. You know how we mermaids like our sparkly things.
    I’m glad to hear that the publishing market is alive and well.
    Good reporting, Susan-Mermaid. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I was overwhelmed last year with all I’d brought home, and swore I wouldn’t succumb again. #fail!

    1. Thank you, Lissa! Even if you only go for one day, it’s an experience. Just bring a spare suitcase to put into Coat Check. For $3, you can visit over and over and stuff that sucker full! (mine is always a rolling backpack, since I have an aversion to being an absolute pig)

  2. Sounds fun, Susan! I’ve never been myself, but I loved hearing your take on it.

    1. Thank you, Pin. It’s the kind of day where you walk outside afterwards and say “what? there’s a city here? and other people who freakin’ don’t care about BEA?”

  3. I wish I knew you were going. I want to get my book on Christian Book Distributer’s website, but the only way you can is by attending an expo like this and shmoosing. I plan to go next year for sure. Thanks for the heads-up on how it all goes down. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Katy, I’d have made rain for you if I could. We’ll talk next year and share strategy.

  4. Glad to hear it was good. I’d entertained the idea of going to Blog World, also going on in Javits, which offered a dual admission to both BEA and BW. But that would have been a mad/crazy day.

    1. Hi Rhonda, there were a couple of bloggers lurking in the background, but I didn’t really get caught up in that. Too busy snagging books!

  5. Wow – I’m exhausted just reading about it!!! But sounds like so much. And I’m really intrigued by this Autography! 😉

    1. Thank you Kerri, I kept thinking about all the stuff I left out! Oh, ps, the BBQ place for lunch was terrific! See? Left out!

  6. “Set your phone to STUN!” Only you, Susan Mermaid! Love it. Thank you so much for the top notch reporting about the cool new stuff happening in the book world. Can’t wait to read your book reviews. Glad you survived fishy sister 🙂

    1. Thanks, Carlene, I just wish I’d spent more time in the digital corner. The footprint seemed to be bigger than last year (duh), and it’s really close to the Librarian Lounge (home of endless free snacks for library pros – plus more bling…).

  7. Thank you, Diana! I remember an ALA in DC in the 80s. It was my first book-related conference and I remember being completely overwhelmed by the intensity of it all. So much that I left my purse in a booth and had to track it back down — where it had remained for over an hour, untouched! BEA is very like, but the vibe now is super frantic.

    1. Anytime, Avery – we should have a Mermaids Day at BEA! How fun would that be???

    1. Hi, thanks for visiting! I certainly don’t regret going to BEA, even if it felt like that Star Trek episode, “The Mark of Gideon”. Or Times Square on a Saturday night.

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