My journey to Chicago’s Book Expo of America, 2016 was welcome trip after a chaotic Spring with many challenges. Working in a municipal library is much more than reading books…and there were many occasions low this past few months that I would have preferred to lock myself in the technical services area and process the newly ordered library items. Book Expo of America is a yearly national convention of book sellers, librarians, publishers, authors and any anyone who has any connection to the book trade. A convention hall full of shiny new “up and coming” books. Yes please! A diversion was what was required.
And so the adventure began early on May 11th, I kissed my Hunny goodbye early at 5 am in Newburgh, jumping onto a puddle hopper heading toward Philadelphia. These are always small airplanes, with bumpy yet short rides. After transferring between Terminals F and A on a myriad of moving walkways and buses ( let’s be honest the spirited walk was welcomed exercise.) I made it onto a larger AirBus airplane heading to Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
After taking the “L” ( the elevated subway) into the city, I checked into my hotel on
Columbus Drive. The Embassy Suites was great hotel with soaring architecture that afforded stunning views of the Chicago Harbor architecture. The lobby was located on the fifth floor, The Sky Lounge, as it was referred to featured a green living wall and a breakfast lounge with a glass ceiling. My room , on the seventeenth floor, was accessible via a bank of glass elevators and a catwalk. While I was assigned an upgraded suite, I found it to be a challenge of my fear of heights to get to and from my room. Riding in the glass elevators seemed to fly up and down rapidly, with no barrier to keep the occupant from falling to the ground below. Or, perhaps that was my perception tinged by my fear. Still, it was a lovely room, and I was willing to push my limits.
From checking in, I dashed across the street to Whole Foods for a restorative latte, before jumping on the BEA conference shuttle bus and heading over to the McCormick Center to register and obtain my conference badge. I did a quick survey of the trade floor, found it to be laid out similarly to the BEA conference floor in New York in past years. I did find my IPG press friend, Phil Springstead, and chatted for a few minutes regarding business and demand for his titles. I will admit to seeing a higher volume of adult coloring book vendors that I did in past years.
The following day, May 12, was a whirl wind of author signings and visiting vendor booths to discuss what new titles will be available in the coming year.
I was excited to meet so many authors and illustrators, who’s work I admire and promote to my library patrons. I met K. Simons, Louise Penny (a fellow Canuck), Jennifer Chiaverini, Laurie Halse Anderson and Ridley Pearson, to name a few. My best tale of adventure from day two of the show was my visit to Abram Publishing booth. All staff seemed busy and were otherwise engaged. I browsed their display shelves, landing on a maple syrup cook book. Now, anyone who has ever met the Potwins, knows that we covet maple syrup as a fifth food group unto itself. My husband is a Vermonter, I , a Canuck. It runs in our veins. I travel with maple syrup, bottled , in my purse in case of a pancake emergency. (It has been known to happen, ladies and gentlemen. It has happened.)
The cookbook, caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I immediately recognized the Crown Maple logo, a product of the Modava Farm in Dover Plains, New York. This neighboring community’s maple syrup farm has hosted a Lagrange Library program in the past. I looked up seeking to inquire, finding a fellow who turned out to be the CEO of Crown Maple farms. Below is a photo we took and of the delicious sample of his syrup, a give away bottle that he shared with me prior to his presentation at the booth an hour later. Thank you, Michael Cook. Lagrange Library will order two copies of your cookbook for our patrons within the Mid Hudson Library System. Maple syrup cures everything……
I collected catalogues, and photographed new titles that I need to order upon my return.
Banners decorated the conference facility, advertising upcoming hot selling titles.
Thanks to Publisher’s Weekly , for hosting the Librarian’s Lounge. It was a welcome spot to sit down, have a coffee or soda pop, refresh and collect one’s thoughts. Despite the show happening in Chicago, I ran into an inordinate number of New York librarians, a number of them in the Librarian’s Lounge.
Despite traveling alone, I did find a number of helpful participants willing to take my photo.
By late afternoon, I returned to the hotel ( braving the glass elevators and 17th floor cat walk) to take a quick power nap before heading out to walk along the Magnificent Mile, enjoying the spring flower displays in front of the high-end shops. Since my return to the North East from relocating from Florida, I have greatly missed the bloom of spring time tulips. I love the elegance and the simplicity of the tulip. It reminds me of the spring displays of tulips across Canada of my childhood; a gift of 1 million tulips bulbs from the Dutch Government as a thank you to the people of Canada for hosting the Dutch Royal Family during World War 2. I loved the flower displays along the Magnificent Mile. It was cheery and happy.
On the final day, I met up with more authors: Dave Pilkey ( Captain Underpants), Jill Shavais, Dave Shannon ( Duck on a Bike), Scott Ditikis (Editor of the Onion Newspaper), Emily Green, Michael Connolley, Mary Englebright and Rosemary Wells ( McDuff).
By mid afternoon, I had 2 boxes of catalogs and advanced reader copies (ARCs) dropped off at Fedex, en route to Lagrange, New York. My only regrets from this professional opportunity were two-fold. One: I missed taking a photo of Bill Anderson. So, the author signings are set up like 50 foot cattle shoots to line up people . I always try to go to the authors who have no one lined up at their signing table. I always feel bad for them. The second day’s afternoon was no exception. A lovely elderly gentleman signed a copy of his book for me and we discussed country music. The author: Bill Anderson . Sadly, I did not get a picture and did not realize who he was until I walked away. Such a lovely experience that happened by chance.
Two: I did not line up for Marrissa Meyer‘s author signing. There was such demand for her new book, Heartless , that attendees were instructed to line up for a ticket. This ticket allowed attendees to then line up to get a copy of her book signed. Hundreds of individuals lined up for a ticket, some were pushing and very competitive for this sought after ticket. I elected to forgo this melee. While I wanted to get this for Lisa, my co-worker, I am hopeful that she will get an opportunity to meet her favorite author in June, at the American library Association conference in Orlando, Florida.
By the end of the third day, I felt that I had seen what I had wanted to see, talked to who I wanted to talk to , collected the catalogues and ARCs that interest me based on the areas of my library collection which needs acquisitions.
I then walked to the Water Tower Shoppes, to have a coffee and select a Lego present for my son. Typical of the many Lego shops I have visited, the Water Tower location paid homage to Chicago in its’ displays. Embarrassingly, I will admit to being the Queen of the Lego shop for about 10 minutes. Once the sales clerk scanned my VIP points card, my numerous points were noted. A discussion of a recent Christmas Lego Death Star purchase ensued. Yes, I was the Queen of the Lego shop.
I also stopped in Dylan’s Candy Bar shoppe, which is the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s candy factory. The music, the colors, the decor of these shoppes are a bit of an assault on one’s senses, though their chocolate bars are supremely delish!
From, there, I returned to O’Hare airport to fly home. Despite the lengthy security line ups, the line moved fairly quickly. What was anticipated as a three-hour wait, actually was 45 minutes.
My trip to BEA in Chicago was be summed up as an enlightening professional experience in which I learned more about new and greatly anticipated titles coming out. I met many interesting people and feel that I learned that the book is not dead in the era of e-books. People are actively reading , have authors they follow and enjoy. This expo helps me to plan my acquisitions budget for the coming year. I am grateful to have had this opportunity and look forward to BEA in New York City (with my co-workers), May 31-June 2, 2017. # BEA
p.s. And a week later, this is what my Lagrange Library office floor looks like, upon the delivery of my Fedex boxes.