Book Expo America.
A mecca for book bloggers. The one event we all aspire to attend. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend the last three years now, but this one was by far the best show I’ve gone to. And I know exactly why.
Day One waiting to get in! Pictured: Mary (@knoxdiver), Wendy (@book_scents), Danielle (@loveatfirstpage), Daphne (@dmtrumps), Kristina (@gone_pecan), Katie (@polishedpage)
This was the first year I was in a hotel with other people. The last two years the only way I could afford to go was to stay with my aunt in Jersey and take the train into NYC every year. This wasn’t ideal, but it allowed me to go to the show. Which was better than nothing for me. BEA is expensive. And I think we all have to work really hard every year to be able to go. Especially since most of us aren’t generating income from our blogs. This is our hard-earned money! And I feel very blessed to be able to have gone the last two years even if it wasn’t under the most ideal circumstances. But this year, I could afford it. So I found some roommates and headed to the show.
The roomies! From left to right: Wendy, Sabrina, me, Danielle, Jess
Having roommates made such a huge difference in my experience. I was so much more involved in the experience. I didn’t feel the disconnect that I’ve felt the last two years. And my roommates were amazing! I stayed with Danielle @ Love at First Page, Jess @ Gone With the Words, Wendy @ Book Scents, and Sabrina @ Forest of Words and Pages and I have so much love for these ladies. We had such a fantastic time hanging out on the floor all day, playing Cards Against Humanity at night, and going out dancing all night at the end of the week.
I didn’t even know Sara (@adventuresinya) before BEA, but now she’s a forever friend!
This was the reason why I could afford to stay in a hotel. Chicago is so much cheaper than NYC. Also, I’m from Chicago so I got to return to my city! I currently live right outside of Washington D.C. so any chance I have to go back home, I jump on. So it worked out perfectly for me because I did the show Wednesday-Friday and then went to see my family Saturday & Sunday. And of course I got to eat all the delicious Chicago food!! Portillo’s and Giordano’s for the win. You have no idea the victory I felt when everyone liked Giordano’s better than Lou Malnati’s. And the joy I felt when they said Portillo’s was some of the best food they’d eaten. Chicago has the food, people.
Day One at Book Expo America:
The exhibit floor didn’t open until 1pm on Wednesday so we went for a leisurely breakfast at a place called Yolk. We ordered so much food that Danielle literally put one of her plates on the booth seat next to her. Sorry not sorry. This was such a perfect start to the show. We got to spend time with some other bloggers and stuff our faces so we could go all afternoon on the show floor without passing out from hunger. After breakfast, we got our badges and lined up.
I had nothing on my official schedule for Wednesday, but ended up getting a lot of the books I wanted. The publishers were very generous with their galley drops. I got galleys from Harper, Hachette, Penguin, Scholastic and more all on the first day. I always try to do the galley drops versus the signings because a). it’s faster and b). I don’t think that BEA is the best place to meet authors. There’s not a lot of time to chat or take pictures because it’s busy and they’re trying to push people through the line. So I was quite pleased with how many galleys I was able to grab. Also pleased with my ability to take creeper pictures… See this awesome shot of Tahereh Mafi…
I didn’t even realize Ransom was in the shot until Wendy pointed it out after BEA was over.
One complaint. The way Hachette (Little Brown) decided to do their galley drop. They played a dice game. There were four galleys you could potentially get. You had to role a die and whatever side it landed on, that’s the galley you got. I get what they were trying to do. They were trying to play a fun game. But here’s the thing. Book bloggers know what they like. They know what they want to read. Three of the four galleys available were sequels. I wanted Blood for Blood. I absolutely loved Wolf by Wolf which I grabbed last year at BEA and I wanted the sequel so freaking badly. So I rolled the die and landed on a different book. Of the four, it was the book I was least excited about. I explained all of this to the woman running the game and kindly asked her for Blood for Blood so that I could spread the word about this incredible series. She refused and gave me a book I didn’t really want. Now tell me, why would you want to hand out a book to a blogger who’s going to review it that they don’t really want? Why not give them the book they are most excited about? It worked out fine because we were able to go back through the line and I ended up getting three of the four galleys and trading that one I didn’t really want. But my point is that the game wasn’t the greatest idea for a group of people who know exactly what kind of books they like to read.
After the show we went back to the hotel room and dropped our books off. Then we grabbed an uber and headed to Portillo’s, my favorite place to eat when in the Chicago land area. They have hot dogs, burgers, ribs, salads, pasta, but most importantly they have italian beef. And cheese fries. Speaking of which… we’re sitting in our hotel room before we left and I’m telling all these wonderful ladies about the awesome food. I mention cheese fries and Wendy goes “what’s a cheese fry?” I’m sorry what? You poor, unfortunate, deprived soul. So naturally I forced her to eat cheese fries. I also got chocolate cake and Wendy got a chocolate cake shake. Everybody loved the food, no surprise there. After that we went across the street to Walgreens to get some beer and wine and then took the scariest uber ride of our lives back to the hotel. It was a minivan and as we’re driving down the road one of the doors literally flies open. I thought for a second that we had been in a car accident. Sabrina, who was sitting next to the door, keeps her cool and closes the door calmly. Then our uber driver gets lost going back to the hotel and we find ourselves driving through a desolate parking garage that’s halfway under construction. I remember looking at whoever was sitting next to me and saying “there’s 6 of us…we can take him right?” But not to worry, we made it back in one piece. Thank god. We spent the rest of the evening playing a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity and drinking beer.
After devouring all the noms. Left to right: Sabrina (@forestofpages), me, Wendy (@book_scents), Mary (@knoxdiver), Danielle (@loveatfirstpage), Katie (@polishedpage)
Day Two at Book Expo America:
Tired. That’s what I remember about day two. I was actually pretty tired the entire week just from being up late and waking up super early. When you have 5 girls sharing one bathroom, the morning routine is interesting. But it worked out just fine. I armed myself with some coffee and hit the floor. This was the day, people. The day to get Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Heartless and Gemina were my top two books to grab at BEA. If I got nothing else but these two, I would have been happy.
Macmillan did a lot of in-booth signings this year which was great. The in-booth signings typically move faster than the signings that take place back in the autographing area. I’m not sure why this is, maybe they’re just less busy, but I approve. So Macmillan decided to drop tickets for their morning signings at 9am and for their afternoon signings at 1pm. So you had to wait in line for a ticket and then wait in line again for the signing. Marissa’s signing was at 3pm so we meandered over to the booth at around noon to see if people were lining up for tickets. Macmillan refused to let us line up, stating that we would be able to form a nice single file line at 1pm. Um… I don’t think that’s going to work. Basically there was an
angry mob gathered outside their booth. Finally at like 12:45 they decide they need to line us up. They decide to take us all through their booth and into these queue lines behind their booth. Well imagine that angry mob all pushing through the booth to get in the queue line. Basically I wasn’t moving my feet, I was just being carried along by the crowd. I remember grabbing Wendy’s arm, screaming “oh my god” and praying that I didn’t trip. Because if you went down, you were dead. It was terrifying. #bea16stampedesurvivor We just barely slid in for tickets to Marissa. I think only like 10 more people after us got them. *cheers* So battling the mob was worth it.
The rest of day two was kind of chill. I did a couple other in-booth signings and grabbed a few more galleys. Thursday night was pretty uneventful. Wendy and I grabbed dinner at the hotel because we didn’t feel like going out and then we ended up piling like 15 of us into one hotel room for more Cards Against Humanity. Hilarity ensued once more. We crashed hard Thursday night, yet still didn’t get enough sleep.
Day Three at Book Expo America:
The final day! I remember waking up Friday morning in complete disbelief that it was already the last day of the conference. It had gone by much too fast. This was probably my most chill day on the floor. I think I did an in-booth signing at Macmillan first for Caraval, then went over to the Harlequin signing. Sidenote: I really hate the way Harlequin does their in-booth signings. They have five authors and you go down the line and are pretty much forced to get all five books. Because I don’t know about you guys, but I have trouble looking the author in the eye and telling them I don’t want their book. Of course, there’s always someone who wants them so I ended up giving two that I didn’t want away.
We have to hold each other up we are so tired…
Immediately after the Harlequin signing we went over to the Penguin booth to line up for the Gemina drop two hours early!! Yes, you read that correctly. It was the only time they were dropping it so we knew it was going to be crazy. You would think that having to wait in a line for 2 hours would be annoying, but lines at BEA are fun. Because you just get to hang out with your crazy book friends the entire time! And everyone is cool and will hold your spot while you go to other drops and signings. I was able to run over to Disney and grab a book I wanted and a couple other people were able to go to the Sabaa Tahir signing.
And lucky us, Jay Kristoff himself was wandering the floor and came over to say hi to everyone waiting in his crazy line! I got to talk with him a little bit and he was really funny! He asked us when we lined up and we told him about two hours ago and he goes “That’s going to suck if you hate the book.” He’s also crazy tall as you can see from this picture and has an Australian accent. Basically he’s awesome. After grabbing our Gemina galley we were pretty much done. So we said our goodbyes, tried not to cry and went off to our hotel room. Once there we rested for a bit, then packed up our stuff so we wouldn’t have to deal with it in the morning. Then it was time to go out.
I took my roommates to my favorite Chicago pizza place, Giordano’s for dinner where we stuffed our faces and Danielle & I did a pre-game shot. Straight rum, guys. I almost died. Then we went to the dueling piano bar, Howl at the Moon, and danced the night away. We had so much fun and before we knew it was 3am and the bars were all shutting down. Wendy and I slept for like 3 hours, then got up and headed to the train station to go meet my family and finish out our weekend with them.
And that my friends, was my amazing BEA experience! I had such a fantastic time. I wish I could spend every day hanging out with my people. Because that’s who you all are. You are MY PEOPLE and I love each and every one of you! Yes, the book blogging community can see a lot of negativity. But it’s events like these that remind me why I do this. Because I love books and I’m passionate about them! And there are tons of other people out there who are just as excited as I am! And I get to talk to them every day and make friends all over the world. It’s an amazing feeling and one that I don’t see myself ever letting go of.
Did you attend BEA this year? What did you think of it being in Chicago? Did you survive the Macmillan stampede? What book(s) are you most excited about? Who was the author you were most excited to meet? What was the longest line you waited in? And the most important question… what was your favorite Chicago food?