Imagine a world full of book sellers, publishers, printers, librarians, authors and bloggers, as well as a whole lot of free books. That, my friends, is BEA.
I flew out to New York on Tuesday, bright and early in the morning. I was getting into La Guardia about 11, but because my plane was delayed in Milwaukee, it was more like 12. My goal was to read on the plane — The Cardturner by Louis Sacher — and I did a bit of that then and a little bit of reading while waiting the arrival of Abby (the) Librarian and Jen of Nerd Girl Blogging. Partner-in-crime Kim, from here at STACKED, would be flying into JFK and meeting us at the hotel.
We decided to stay at the Wyndham Garden on 36th, between 8th and 9th avenue. It was really darn close to the convention center, at about half a mile. For those of you planning for next year already, it was a fantastic hotel at a very reasonable price ($189 a night).
After we recombobulated post-flight, we headed off to the AAP/LJ Librarians dinner, which offered some terrible food. While that was nothing worth bragging about, we got the opportunity to meet three New York Librarians and seasoned BEA vets who told us all of the dirty BEA secrets. Let me just say: they SAVED us so much time and money. That alone was worth the dinner.
But, ah, what would a dinner be without some guest speakers? We were serenaded with stories from Cory Doctorow (blogger at boingboing.net author of the fabulous Little Brother and new For the Win) and about the importance of books and libraries and librarians (seriously, this man is an incredible advocate for readers), Rachel Vincent (of the Soul Screamers series reviewed here and pictured at left), Jane Green (who I spent half the dinner thinking I knew her name to realize she is the writer of Jemima J, which I loved when I read the summer after my freshman year in college), Anne Fortier (of the forthcoming and highly buzzed title Juliet — she was a riot!), and Ann Brashares (of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame). Each talked about the value and importance of libraries and reading, and it was just a very nice affair…despite the terrible food (it was free, at least). At the end of the dinner, we walked away with copies of all of their latest books.
We hopped a cab back to our hotel and spent the evening just relaxing. We were all tired from very early mornings and long days of travel. And let me just say this: these were some of the most wonderful people to spend time with. We never were without conversation.
That picture on the top there is what greeted us on our first official day of BEA attendance on Wednesday. The exhibit halls opened at 9, and we were all raring to go by 8 a.m. Yes, this is the line at just a few minutes after 8 a.m. to get inside. While waiting, we pulled out a list of books we were hoping to find or ask about and mapped out the places we’d hit first. Number one on our list? Penguin.
Then the clock clicked 9 a.m., the ribbon was cut and boy, were we in for a surprise with just how many people were in the hall, and how it really was a mass frenzy.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).