By: Joelle Charbonneau
This week I attended my very first BEA. For those who aren’t familiar with the acronym, BEA stands for BookExpo America. The expo is held at the Javits Center in New York City (a place all New Yorkers seem to have a love/hate relationship with) and is packed with over 20,000 publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, authors and readers. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for how huge the event was going to be. I was wrong! The event is massive. So many people handing out ARCs, running to meetings or events and talking about their love of books.
Love of books is the theme of BookExpo America. So, if you love books and you can swing going to BEA, I totally recommend it. Not because it will land you and agent or an editor. It won’t. Editors and agents don’t have time to talk about as yet unsigned projects. They are too busy talking about their upcoming lists or pitching books to film people and foreign rights agents. In fact, attending BEA will not make you “the author” feel important at all. Because this isn’t a conference about writers and authors. This is an expo about books. If you are looking to stand out in the crowd, you probably need to wear stilts and even then you might not get noticed. (Trust me. The ten foot inflatable Captain Underpants doll barely got a second glance.) But while you won’t stand out in the crowd, you will feel a sense of unity with everyone around you because everyone in attendance LOVES books. They want to find better ways to connect readers with books and to keep the industry alive and thriving.
BEA for me was fun and intimidating. I got to sign copies of SKATING AROUND THE LAW, SKATING OVER THE LINE and early copies of MURDER FOR CHOIR. Seeing MURDER FOR CHOIR for the first time was pretty awesome. I also had meetings with my three editors and talked to my Houghton Mifflin Harcourt team for the first time. Oh – and I got to see a bound copy of THE TESTING. Not an ARC – since we are a few weeks/months away from that yet, but it was still exciting to see it getting so close. I didn’t do much of the party scene, although I understand there were lots and lots of them. There was a fun YA bash that I crashed with the fabulous DMLA agent, Amy Boggs, which was held at the top of a building near the Hudson River. The view of the city was pretty amazing! The bloggers who threw the party knew what they were doing when they picked the location.
The one thing that I thought I was going to hear more buzz about during my BEA experience was the Amazon buyout of Avalon. I mean, Amazon timed the announcement to coincide with BEA. They wanted the acquisition to garner attention. Only….it really didn’t. I mean, people noticed the announcement. It was kind of hard to miss. But instead of talking about the move as proof that Amazon was doing good things or that they were evil and trying to take over the world, everyone just kind of shrugged. I’m not sure what that means, but no one was surprised or compelled to talk about that particular announcement. Maybe it was because it made sense that Amazon would buy genre books that had never been brought to the digital market. While there are lots of things I don’t understand about the Amazon business model, I do understand that they understand e-books. So, I guess I’m one of the masses on this and shrugging at the big announcement because this buyout totally makes sense.
How about you? Did you hear about the announcement and shrug? Did you cheer when you heard the news or did the news not make it onto your radar?