If you follow the book world, you’ll know that this week was Book Expo America, a.k.a. Book Prom. It’s one of the biggest (if not the biggest) annual gatherings of publishers, librarians, book sellers, authors, bloggers and, this year, regular readers. I missed BEA 2011 and had to content myself with reading the recaps and hearing about the madness second hand from my co-workers.
I didn’t think I’d get to go this year, either, so imagine my surprise and delight when I was offered a pass to run around the Javits for a few hours. Since I had some events planned for Wednesday morning, I decided that would be my day to go and started arranging meetings with bloggers that I’ve gotten to know on Twitter over this past year and getting excited.
I figured I’d have a relatively calm week, particularly because I was only going for the one day, but by Sunday, it was clear that I was going to be as happily busy as everyone else.
The mystery folks on the Ballantine Tumblr kind of captured the essence of BEA perfectly: at the Javits, you’re very much at a trade show, meeting with people you’ve been in contact with for ages, forging new contacts, meeting and/or handling authors, and contending with huge crowds and deathly wheelie bags. Now, I’m a native New Yorker and am used to elbowing my way through crowds of tourists while throwing an “Excuse me!” over my shoulder as I fly along. Not so easy to do in the cramped aisles at the Javits. I started to have one of those Howard Hughes moments where “Why aren’t we moving? Why aren’t we moving?” circled through my brain for several minutes. You really do need to take a moment to breathe and remember that everyone is there for the love of books.
Other than that, it was an interesting morning at the Javits. I met with some fabulous publishing peeps, nearly lost my purse only to find it under the watchful guard of Jussi Adler-Olsen (yes, that Jussi Adler-Olsen), met the fantastic Erin Morgenstern at her signing for the gorgeous paperback of The Night Circus, and nabbed some lovely galleys, including City of Women, which I can’t wait to start.
The outside parties were the more memorable part of the week for me. This is where you get away from the stress and finally get to have some one-on-one time with everyone you’d hoped to meet. It’s a gush fest, full of hugs and screams of delight as you put names to faces, and, of course, there’s plenty of eating and drinking, usually of the alcoholic variety (many people on Twitter have lamented the demise of their livers). Highlights:
- Meeting awesome book bloggers at Random House’s swanky PowerReader Breakfast, including Beth Fish of Beth Fish Reads, Swapna of SKrishna’s Books, and the three Jenns: The Picky Girl, Jenn’s Bookshelves, and my wonderful buddy at the Javits, Literate Housewife.
- Attending some fantastic author readings, including an intimate event at the Algonquin with Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night) and Laura Moriarty (The Chaperone, which I will review soon!).
- Fangirling all over Eloisa James and Susan Elia MacNeal, both of whom were super nice about it.
- Meeting the amazing Beatriz Williams, first at Lady Jane’s Salon, where she did a reading from Overseas complete with a British accent for Julian, and then with Amy and Debbie and before the Penguin blogger party. Not only is Beatriz a wonderful writer, she’s also great to talk to about any topic under the sun, from expat life in London to Swedish opera, and the generosity with which she interacts with her readers is really special. I’m even prouder now to recommend her books to everyone I know.
So, a crazy week was had by all! By Friday, I was walking around like Nosferatu and needed a coffee IV, but it was more than worth it.
Some photos from the festivities: