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A Librarian’s take on Book Expo 2015

This year I went to Book Expo America from Wednesday to Friday, staying in the city for the whole show.  The show for the public, Bookcon, runs Saturday and Sunday and is trying to become Comic-con for books.

Since I have finally, by trial and error, figured out how to navigate Manhattan, get around the Javitts Center, find food that doesn’t have movie theater prices, figured out how to handle hauling precious books and what to spend my time on, they moved the convention to Chicago next year.  I have not been able to determine if this is permanent or part of a plan to move around, but I don’t know if I can afford it.  Ok, so I really couldn’t afford this trip either, but my transportation for the whole trip cost eleven dollars (subway and Megabus).  My biggest expense was the hotel, since my ticket was comped (still don’t know how I was selected).

Highlights:
  • Getting a book signed by Rosemary Wells- love her work!
  • Also had books signed by Tad Hills (Rocket Reads) and Scott Westerfeld (Zeroes)
  • Crowd-sourcing a comic strip with the guys from Unshelved and seeing their process.
  • Successfully site-seeing by myself and navigating the subway system.
  • Lists of books to buy, books to read, and gaining insight of avid readers with different tastes.
  • Scavenger hunts!  All conventions should have scavenger hunts- I got to do two- one for the Librarian booth and the other for the V.I.P. lounge.  I don’t think I won anything, but having a purpose, finding booths and interacting with the people enough to get my validation, made me see all of the show floor.  The librarian’s hunt won, in my opinion- they had a passport, with a page per participating booth, the booths of course being in numerical order (the V.I.P. one was random).
  • Talking with strangers in lines (and I’m an introvert!)
  • Seeing people I know- fellow librarians, my favorite local bookstore owner, and speakers I’ve listened to in prior years and enjoyed.
Things I learned (the hard way):
  • Bring a rolling suitcase even if it seems awkward to carry.  The huge bag of books was much more awkward, and the bus refused to put it in their hold.
  • Don’t leave your bag of swag anywhere, even in a restricted area, because people have a way of justifying theft as “they must not have wanted that carefully placed bag with a name written on it.”
  • Don’t take everything people give you.
  • Have business cards (but know that your badge can be scanned for your info).
  • Go to events early, not on time (it was pretty awesome that being on time was an option, it’s not at NYC Comiccon or Dragoncon.)
  • F.A.O Shwartz is closing!  See it while you can.
  • Be polite to everyone (always). That lowly Librarian you just dissed is a person too.  That overly enthusiastic salesman probably sank all his money in buying a booth.
  • book stackARCs are only useful for doing reviews or giving as gifts- you can’t put them in a library collection or sell them at a book sale.  So consider saving your back and get digital copies from Edelweiss.
  • Be flexible- sometimes the planned thing doesn’t work out, but a chance encounter might be just as interesting or useful.
  • Locking yourself into a hotel room to write only works if you turn off your internet and don’t read missives from home or work.
  • At least once a year, surround yourself with people who worship books- it makes working at a library where most of the patrons are non-readers easier to bear.
  • Bring noise canceling headphones.  The woman who plopped next to me on the bus did not stop talking on the phone the entire trip.  Like that commercial “So. Many. Stories.”  We also had a traffic jam outside my hotel, where drivers thought they could move cars with the sound of their horns.
  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times.
  • If someone has been in movies or TV, people will be desperate to take their picture, and if they’ve written a book, they will be desperate to have something signed.  Actors who’ve written a book?  Be prepared for the huge lines.
  • Wait five minutes after opening time before going in- there’s no reason to wait in line to get in when the crowds are reasonable like they were at this professionals-only show.
  • Remember that it’s just a show and I should really just relax.IMG_1965

I was not able to promote my ebooks there, and did not learn anything to improve my writing business.  Those who wish to do that should go to UpublishU over the weekend.

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