Book Expo America 2016 was held in Chicago this year, and there were so many pros and cons to the switch in locations. Because I attended this event with two different hats again — Agent and Blogger — I could see the benefits and drawbacks of a non-NYC BEA from the business side and fun side.
I also didn’t do quite as much planning for this year’s BEA. Last year I was reading all the blog posts and preparing for all possible scenarios and planning out routes and where to eat and what books to grab and making lists after endless lists. This year, I bought my snacks a week beforehand (yay granola bars, fruit chews, and applesauce pouches!), devised my list of books to look out for the day before (will they be at BEA? Who knows!), and then drove my merry way to the hotel.
One of the best things about BEA is seeing all the people. “I recognize you from Twitter!” was heard all over the floor, and seeing so many smiles and hearing so many voices of all these people I see online or interact with through email will never stop feeling exhilarating. We may be introverts at heart, but throw all the bookworms into a convention center and we have a blast!
Authors in the Flesh
This will never stop being one of the most exciting things about BEA and book signings: meeting authors who wrote our favorite books, authors we interact with online, authors that have the same hobbies and interests as us. It’s that great reminder we’re all people in this journey together.
Sharon Cameron (Rook) arrived late Tuesday evening, and Lindsey arranged for us to meet her for drinks. Sharon, Lindsey, and I gushed over a variety of BBC period dramas several months ago — we even watched Jamaica Inn on Acorn together, live-texting and tweeting the whole experience. So yes, of course we had to get drinks! Lindsey, Morgan, Ashley, and I were first in her signing line for The Forgetting the next day too. Drinks with authors = dedicated followers 😉
On the very first day, I was scrolling through Twitter and found Charles Finch (The Last Enchantments) tweeting about the long line at Starbucks for BEA. “Are you here?!” was my stupid question, but Charles took it in stride and we met in a central location just before the convention floors opened. On the last day I ran into him again. Full circle: excited anticipation for the big expo, followed by sheer exhaustion at the end.
Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places) told me she would be at BEA months ago, but it wasn’t until I was searching for any sign of Holding Up the Universe in the PW Daily papers that it was confirmed (she’s so busy!). I waited in line for her signing, wasn’t expecting her to recognize me (LINK), but she looked up and squealed “LAURA!” and came around the table to give me a hug. She congratulated me and welcomed Jared to “the Knopf family,” too. That felt pretty good!
On Saturday at brunch, Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, Salt to the Sea) was sitting at the table behind ours, quietly talking on her phone or scrolling through the news. Lindsey and I wanted to turn around and say something to her, but because she was about to deal with Book Con madness, we wanted to respect her privacy. While the other bloggers got up to grab some stuff from the rooms, we went over to her anyway and introduced ourselves — and she was so surprised and happy, and very eager to share some clips of her upcoming movie!
I had many other moments of author run-ins, like gazing at Ransom Riggs and his spiffy, stylish outfits; showing Aime Kauffman how to get to the book floor (and didn’t even know who she was till we arrived); bumping into author and editor giant David Levithan (again! I was always running into him last year); and gushing to Nicola Yoon about her books and contribution to WNDB.
I met with some wonderful editors from Penguin, Macmillan, and Albert Whitman, ran into agent friends, and represented the agency at the BEA YA Editor Buzz Panel and BEA YA Author Buzz Panel. TriadaUS is so excited for and proud of Billy Taylor, author of YA contemporary Thieving Weasels. I love when stories are inspired by true events — so when Billy told the audience about his personal experience with identity fraud and weird con-artist issues from his neighbors, it made his book even more thrilling and enticing.
This is where the con of moving BEA outside of NYC comes in: there was less business to conduct. In many ways it felt strange to not have back-to-back meetings. Instead, I wandered the floor and observed what the various publishers were pushing. It’s neat seeing the different personalities within every imprint.
This year I was lucky to room with seven other fabulous Marvel-and-Disney-loving ladies (Boozy Lady Knights!): Lindsey, Ashley, Morgan, Gaby, Gillian, Dani, and Jessie. Some of our off-the-BEA-floor shenanigans included dinner at the movies with Captain America: Civil War (with Meg!) and Zootopia, wine and Cards Against Humanity hilarity, and a night of Disney tattoos and Disney Netflix singalongs. Real life stopped with these ladies, and I had an absolute blast!
There were fun times with other fabulous ladies, too! Another night of Cards Against Humanity with Wendy, Danielle, Jess, Sabrina, Mary, and Rebecca; line hang-outs with Brittany, Alyssa, and Amy; and several hugs and run-ins and singalongs with Angie and Nikki. We’re a pretty great community, and I feel lucky to have a home with you wonderful people.
Moving BEA out of NYC to a more affordable location made this possible. So from a blogger perspective, BEA Chicago was a good thing.
A Measure of Light || The Secret Keepers || Holding Up the Universe
The Hawkweed Prophecy || Two Days Gone || The Secrets of Wishtide
Stalking Jack the Ripper || Caraval || Victoria: The Queen
When the Sea Turned to Silver || The Forgetting || How to Hang a Witch
Ghostly Echoes || A Deadly Affection || The Comet Seekers
Invincible Summer || The Lie Tree || Strange the Dreamer (sample)
The Lost Property Office || Blood for Blood || The Muse
12 thoughts on “Book Expo America 2016: A Chicago Experience”
The whole experience looks so much fun! There’s nothing better than speaking with fellow bookworms, meeting authors and getting a lot of books! 🙂
I could not agree more!
Morgan @ Gone with the Words
Your recap is fabulous! Succinct, informative, and fun. I love that we get to see BEA from an agent’s perspective as well, you wear so many different hats so well 🙂 I’m really happy that we finally got to meet in person after years of texts and Skype and twitter! ❤ We really did have a fantastic group, it was such fun. I loved every movie and meal and sing-a-long, especially our Chinese and Friends night in. And the books! Fantastic haul. I was really happy for you and Lindsey at brunch haha! Glad you said something to her. I loved that BEA was in Chicago because even though I didn't explore the city as much as I would have liked (thanks awful weather), it was exciting to be somewhere new and central- meeting so many people made me happy.
Morgan @ Gone with the Words
I forgot to add Boozy Lady Knights forever!! And I still want some of those literary tattoos we found!
BOOZY LADY KNIGHTS!
Chinese & Friends! ❤ That was a great night.
Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks)
BEA looks like it was so much fun, and I’m sorry I missed it! I really love that you got to experience it from two different perspectives. And your haul is awesome ❤
Thanks, Alexa. I missed you!
Lauren | Bookmark Lit
So sad I wasn’t able to go this year!! It seemed like you had a great time overall 🙂 Great haul too!
Missed you! Hopefully we’ll run into each other next year
I enjoyed reading about your experience with BEA. Thanks for the chance to live vicariously through you. 🙂
Thanks for reading!