I admit it. I look forward to Book Expo of America (BEA) each and every year. Not only does it happen at a time of year when we are exhausted from planing summer reading programs when the following year’s budget proposal is firmed up and ready for the trustee’s approval, but it is that lag time between finishing up spring work and revving up for summertime vacations. BEA is a trade conference for those who are involved in the book trade in America. Bloggers, publishers, authors, illustrators, book jobbers etc. all converge together for a three-day love fest of the written word. Each year, I am amazed when looking around the crowded conference floor, taking in the hurly-burly of activity. “The print word is dead ” the naysayers claim. No one reads anymore…I beg to differ.
So, this year’s BEA experience was much different from last year. Namely, the location has reverted back to New York City. Most notably, I was able to take in the show with a fellow co-worker, Lisa.
Now, not only is it a more pleasant trip when it can be a shared experience with someone who is a fun personality, though, I admit, she knows Manhattan way better than I. I think that we mutually had a fun time, learned lots and both have long lists of new items to place orders without book jobbers.
After taking the train from Poughkeepsie, we stopped by the New York Public Library, Stephen Schwarzman location in Mid Town. Lisa has a special connection to the NYPL lions: her great-grandfather carved them. Yes, I admit to dropping in quick to apply for my library card. As an association library, New York Public Library cards are available to all New Yorkers regardless of where they live in the state, not just the Island of Manhattan. With proof of a New York residency (such as my driver’s license), I am now able to access the NYPL’s vast electronic resources from anywhere as well as their physical collection when I am in the city. Ebooks, lynda.com here I come!
From there, we checked into our hotel, The Stewart Hotel, kiddy corner from Madison Square Gardens and Penn Station. This newly renovated hotel was exceptionally quiet and clean and tastefully decorated. I think that Lisa and I marvelled over most was their lobby seating area. Think Minecraft topography.
Then we walked over to the Javitts Center to check in and collect our conference badges. The entry lobby of the Javitts is a pretty structure of glass and steel, yet the publisher banners decorate it.
From there, we walked the Highline, a tribute to urban renewal. This formerly abandoned railcar track has been transformed into a restful garden walking path….a tourist spot unto itself. Our destination was Little Italy, in search of a yummy supper. No trip to New York is complete without a meal in Little Italy with my favourite Little Italian ( Lisa knows that I called her this.) Admittedly, this was one of my top 10 meals of my life. Uber tasty.
From there, we travelled to the Library Hotel #libraryhotel (hashtag # awesome !) in Mid Town for an evening drink on the Roof Top Bar. Oh, if only we could have stayed at the hotel…everything is library-themed. From the decor to the names of each floor to the books left on the nightstand. The bar menu is reflective of literary themes: Tequila Mockingbird, The Hemingway for example. It was a pretty night with a blue sky. 60 miles north of Poughkeepsie, tornadic activity was touching down. Unbelievable. Home feels like a world away.
From there, we were exhausted and made it back to our hotel clocking in 8.9 miles on our pedometers. We clearly worked off our delish supper from Da Gennaro on Mulberry Street.
One of the exciting events was accidentally running into a former co-worker from my Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School (Florida) days. On the first morning, when crossing the street from our hotel to a Starbucks to grab a morning coffee, Paula H. must have noticed me in the crosswalk, then followed me into line @ SBUX. I heard a voice behind me and we chatted. I was beyond dumbfounded, though happy to see Paula.
We met up with many authors for signings. Some of which were more well-known in literary circles than others. Micheal Connelly, Elin Hildebrand, John Grisham, Peter Lerangis, Brandon Mull, James Paterson, Jordan Sonnenblick (who recognized me from my Facebook avatar), Christina Baker Kline, and more. We also met other authors who are perhaps, more well-known in celebrity circles. Astronaut Scott Kelly was a highlight, without a doubt. No one was at this table in the publisher’s booth, so Lisa and I walked right up to meet him without a wait. He asked me if “I ever have to threaten patrons to bring their books back?” “Sometimes,” I answered. He smirked in response. Savannah Guthrie, NBC newscaster was very charming. Meeting Chris Jericho, a wrestler and fellow Canuck seemed to impress my husband, suddenly giving BEA street cred, he claimed. And the Bush twins, whose mother Laura was a librarian and their father a U.S. President were present to publicize their latest book.
And of all famous personalities, I was fortunate to met up with the uber fabulous Michele Capozella, Executive Director of the Mahopc Library, fellow Mid Hudson Library Director and good friend. We enjoyed lunch and a quiet restful spot at the Publisher’s Weekly sponsored Librarian Lounge to compare conference show notes.
Each booth is decorated differently, promoting various themes books and materials which that publisher specializes in. Some are more creative than others. Some booths are larger than others, depending on the market share of the publisher.
I was happy to meet up with Phil Springsted, as I do every year. Phil is not only a Dad to my former students in Florida, but a book publisher and a fellow Canuck. I was happy to hear of the children’s scholastic successes and of their summer vacation plans.
My Auntie seemed impressed that I met lawyer turned author John Grisham. The line up was long for those of us who had tickets. Ultimately, after a 45-minute wait, Mr. Grisham was re-situated at another table, having gone over his allotted time at the scheduled signing area. He was gracious and chatted with everyone who lined up. Again, he was very congenial towards those of us who are librarians.
Every year, we seem to end the show with Elin Hilderbrand. While waiting in line, I was interviewed for NPR’s Morning Edition. The segment is to air on June 30, 2017, on the topic of summer reading and beach reads. I cannot imagine a more fitting author than Elin Hilderbrand’s books a summer reads. “They always come back full of sand,” I told the reporter. Both Lisa and I enjoy partaking of the Corona beer handed out at Elin’s signings. At the end of the day, it is cold and wet and we are tired but happy. Since Anna, another co-worker, joined us on the last day of the conference, we showed her around the exhibition floor. We split up in periodically to visit different booths. Both Anna and Lisa met Chad Micheal Murray, an actor from the tv show Gilmore Girls. He was attending BEA to promote a novel he wrote with Heather Graham. Both girls were giddy from his meet up.
At the end of the conference, we repackaged out various tote bags, consolidating space and shipped everything home via FedEx. It was a cost saving measure to use the FedEx two blocks away from the Javitts Center, as well as a back injuring saving move on our part. Our boxes shipped out varying weights of 58-63 pounds. I am glad that we paced out selves and did not pick up EEEEVVVVVEERY free book offered. ( Yes, Lisa, I told you to pace yourself.)All in all, another great time at BEA. I am leaving with long lists of new books to order with my book jobber when I return. To be able to pre-order these high demand titles, which benefit my library patrons to be able to place holds on items before they are released. I then am able to keep an eye on the high demand holds and order additional copies as demand dictates. Thus creating high patron satisfaction with extra copies in circulation. I appreciate my employer allowing me the opportunity to attend this event and learn the temperature of the literary market as well as better plan out my acquisitions budget. BEA, see you next year, May 30-June 1, 2018.