BookExpo America is where Publishing Professionals gather to exchange valued information on new titles, breakout authors, and many, many ARCs. As a first-timer to this trade show event, it is very overwhelming at first glance. Left and right, ARCs are being signed and distributed. Major publishing houses like Macmillan and HarperCollins are represented in whole sections decorated with large rugs and smaller companies are housed within booths throughout the show floor.
As someone who is experiencing BookExpo for the first time, I thought it best to take a second to look around and get a good feel of what is going on around me. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle and it is important to soak it all in. If you have a short window to visit BookExpo, as I did, then you should not take too much time soaking it in. After I walked around for a bit, I made sure to network with publishers such as Soho Press, Penguin Random House, and Arcadia Publishing. I saw this as a learning opportunity, a chance to network, and a fun event all wrapped into one.
I made sure to heed Professor Richter’s advice and checked out what events were happening on each day of BookExpo and also brought in my own bag to carry all the free stuff in, though I was given a free tote as soon as I stepped into the building. I ended up going home with 17 new books and a sore shoulder. Nevertheless, it was exciting to meet publishing professionals and authors who all gave me advice and encouragement on my future publishing endeavors.
There are a wide range of people to meet, events to participate in, and books to obtain. Everywhere you look, there are people mingling, trading business cards, and sharing stories and information that will benefit their publishing careers. I can only imagine how attending BookExpo as a publishing professional will differ from my experience as a student.
Of course, this is just my experience. Articles from the Tampa Bay Times, and the Star tribune offer more insight what is was like at this year’s BookExpo.
BookExpo America, the largest annual book trade fair in the United States will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City this year from May 31 to June 2. Major publishing houses will congregate to showcase emerging authors, new titles, and meet with other publishing professionals and colleagues. For students and incoming publishing professionals, BookExpo is an exciting event and provides an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most influential publishers and to gain significant insight into the publishing industry.
Along with faculty, Pace MS in Publishing students will be attending the BookExpo again this year, trading off passes, supplied by the program, throughout the three-day event.
“I am delighted that Pace University publishing students will have the opportunity to visit the Book Expo this Spring. They will meet publishing professionals, authors and have opportunities to network. The BEA is in NYC this year and New York is the heart of the publishing industry.”
Prof. Michelle Richter also shares her experience and provides some tips and advice on how to achieve the most rewarding BookExpo experience:
The first time I went to BookExpo, I was exactly where you find yourselves now: a grad student in the publishing program, wildly enthusiastic about books and the industry and the city. And broke. But somehow I managed to scrounge up enough for a ticket.
The Benefits of Going to BookExpo
Of course the first thing that comes to mind is free loot: ARCs, finished books, tote bags, swag. But there’s much more than that. I can’t stress enough the value of the panels. You can learn so much about the industry. Go to the keynote speech if you can. Try to attend at least one of the Buzz panels.
There’s one for adult, one for young adult, and one for middle grade. 5 or 6 editors talk about books they’ve acquired that are getting a lot of buzz, and everyone who attends the panel can get the ARCs afterward. But there are also panels with the authors of the Buzz books. And breakfasts and teas or lunches (the meals require separate tickets) where you can listen to major authors. And panels that talk about industry trends, technological innovations, promotion, social media, and so much more.
Author signings are everywhere, some in publisher booths, some in an autograph area in the back. Some are ticketed, some are first come, first serve. Some will have huge lines. Some will have lonely authors waiting. If an author offers to sign their book for you, say “yes, thank you”. If you discard it later, do it out of their sight. You don’t have to have it personalized. If there’s a book you’re dying to get and have signed, line up early. Not all books in a booth are free for the taking. Some publishers only have display copies or books for sale.
Tip 2: Though the lure of free books may intoxicate you, remember you have to carry all of them so be discerning. But if you go hog wild, there’s a post office between the Javits and the A train–you can mail books to yourself.
Tip 3: Bring your own tote bag, one that won’t dig into your shoulder. Just in case free ones are hard to find or subpar.
“I love the BEA! It is such a wonderful opportunity to really get a sense of the size and power of the publishing industry and, it is a great place to network. I also really love getting to meet authors and have them sign their books. My advice is to go with an open mind and soak it all in. Learn about publishers you have not heard about before, talk to people about their work and bring a few copies of your resume to give to people who might help you get a job.”
Be pleasant to anyone working in a booth. Don’t be too grabby getting free stuff. Check out people’s badges to see where they work or who they are but keep in mind that some people share a badge and may be incognito.
These people may someday be your colleagues. They’re often from the marketing department, but could also be sales, sub rights, publicists, editors, even authors. They may be taking meetings with foreign publishers or booksellers or librarians or agents. Most people are dressed professionally, as they would in the office.
Every time I go to BookExpo, it’s like a giant reunion. I see editors, publicists, marketing managers I used to work with, agents I know, authors, foreign publishers, and people I’ve only met on Twitter until I run into them on the floor at BookExpo. “Wait, have we ever met in person before?”
Tip 4: Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers. It’s often freezing in the Javits center and the floors are cement. I think you can’t go wrong with a dress and a cardigan if that’s your style, ladies. Gentlemen, I would suggest you dress business casual (not in jeans).
Tip 5: Bring a water bottle so you don’t have to buy overpriced drinks. You may want to bring snacks.
The Overall Experience
It’s overwhelming, exhausting, exhilarating. I love it still. Some people get jaded by it, but I hope I never do. Try to walk the entire expo. Visit the remainder houses’ booths, the foreign publishers, the packagers, the Big 5s and all the indies. This is your best opportunity to see the wide range of people who participate in the industry, to randomly encounter a rock star author (I once walked by Margaret Atwood and managed not to lose it), to see something like a book being printed in an Espresso Book Machine, to meet awesome librarians and booksellers, and to listen to some terrific speakers.
This past week, a number of Pace Publishing students and faculty attended the annual BookExpo America Conference at the Javits Center. BEA is a great opportyunity for students to gain a scope of industry, network with other publishing professionals, learn about new books and meet authors.
If you weren’t able to attend BEA or missed certain conference events, visit BEA LIVE! on your computer or mobile device to catch up!
Below is a brief synopsis by Miguel Cervantes about his experience at BEA:
“One of the things that was first things impressed upon me in the publishing program was that I needed to go to BEA. This being my first semester at Pace, I had to admit my naivete, I neither knew what BEA was nor why it was important. My fellow students were quick to educate me on the Book Expo of America though and how attendance would give me valuable experience and perspective into the industry on which I was now a part of.
The Jacob Javits Center was remarkable; I had been to conventions centers but never one so large. I was immediately struck by a wave of all things publishing as soon as I entered and I had not even checked in yet. After checking in I
walked the floors for the first time visiting booth after booth, publisher after publisher, familiarizing myself with how they filled a niche in publishing. It was in my second pass that I began to take a more active role, talking with authors and also collecting more than a few freebies. The lectures and panels held at BEA were also invaluable in their information. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture on twitter and it’s use in our industry for marketing and a panel on e-books, e-book readers, and the future. These lectures will most definitely help this summer in my position as social media intern at Simon & Schuster.
I feel very fortunate and grateful to Dyson College for selecting me as one of the students to attend BEA this year. Looking back I can say that attending the Book Expo of America was the perfect punctuation to end my first semester at the program here at Pace.”
BookExpo America (BEA) is one of the premier publishing conferences in the world and the largest gathering of book trade professionals in the United States. Pace continues its tradition of providing a limited number of BEA admission tickets for MS in Publishing students! This is an amazing opportunity to visit one of the most important publishing conferences of the year, for free!
The 2013 BEA will take place Thursday, May 30th–Saturday, June 1st 2013. The Publishing department will have nine tickets for students to the event. Anyone interested can sign up by emailing the Publishing Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember- Ticket distribution is on a first come, first serve basis!
Click here to check out BEA’s website for further information.
The after effects of BEA rest squarely in my shoulders and upper arms this morning. It’s that lovely kind of sore that you get from carrying around three tote bags full of free books for eight hours. For those of you who have been to BEA before, this lovely soreness is nothing new! You’ve probably learned already to be picky about the free galleys that you haul around all day. But since this was my first BEA experience, I ran around like the poor, eager publishing student that I am, fighting the crowd for every free book in sight. I grabbed young adult fantasy novels, historical fiction, and espionage thrillers without discrimination. Today, as I massage my sore shoulders, I think of my bookshelf at home with a happy anticipation. It was more than worth it.
Getting to the Javits Center by 7:30 AM was also well worth the early morning subway ride. I got to start the morning off right – with a cup of coffee, a muffin, and Stephen Colbert making erotica jokes. Stephen Colbert was the Master of Ceremonies at Tuesday’s Author Breakfast, and he wasted no time in publicizing his ‘upcoming #1 bestseller,’ America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t. He also took great delight in celebrating the success of 50 Shades of Grey and the apparent public acceptance of erotica novels (I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest). The speakers at the breakfast were the inspiring Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her), the charming Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior), and the hilarious Jo Nesbo (Phantom). Their thoughtful and often hysterical talks were without a doubt the highlight of my BEA day.
Another highlight was walking through the crowded exhibit hall and, on more than one occasion, running into people I knew in the publishing industry! Between running into fellow Women’s National Book Association members, members of the Book Industry Guild, professionals I met in my internship, writers I met at events, and other Pace students and faculty, I experienced the very real benefits of networking. BEA’s panels were excellent, the exhibit hall was overstimulating, and the accidental discovery of free Italian cookies and glasses of champagne was the icing on the cake. But what meant the most to me yesterday was the feeling, which built throughout the day, that I’m a part of something important – a community of publishers and authors, of men and women, of like-minded readers and professionals. A book community.
Not bad for my first BEA. Next time I’ll bring a rolling suitcase.