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Thursday, May 5, 2011

BEA: The Low-Down

Book Expo America is only 21 days away!

You've planned. You've booked the hotel, mapped out subway routes to the Javits Center, and talked to more people then you can count about what to expect. But more tips can't hurt right?

The Metro - Use it. A 7-day pass is only $28 and it's worth every penny. It gains you access to all the subway lines and the buses. It's the most efficient way to travel around the city. And if you aren't sure what line your stop is on or whether you need to go uptown or downtown, don't be afraid to ask. Ask a booth worker or one of the many cops you can find in the stations.

Pack comfortable shoes - This will differ for everyone, but pack the best all-day walking shoes you've got. If they don't match your outfit, who cares! You will be walking a convention center that is a NYC block wide non-stop for three full days. By 5p.m. on Day 3 your feet will be bigger than an overdue pregnant ladies if you don't heed this advice.

Checking In - Take the time to get to the Javits Center early on the first day of exhibits or even the afternoon before. Getting your BEA badge early will save you time. That means you can hit the floor faster.

Business Cards - If you're attending BEA, presumably you are there to make or solidify contacts with people in the industry and to learn a little bit about the inner workings of the publishing industry. Business cards with basic info on them are perfect for quickly handing off info to someone while waiting in a signing line or chatting with someone at a booth. Some of the publishers last year had "fishbowl" giveaways and cards were handy for that as well.

Networking - Don't be afraid to talk to people. Yes, BEA is fast paced but you can get off a few sentences and a business card exchange without taking up too much time. Don't just go up to a booth and ask for a book. Introduce yourself, mention you're a blogger (if you are) and drop a card with them. The same goes for autographing lines. Speak to the author and give them a card. It can't hurt.

Food & Drink - When it comes to eating, the Javits is an expensive place. A bottle of water you'd normally pay $1.69 for is $3.50 there and food is no better. Carry a water bottle you can refill with you on the floor. It will save you tons of cash. Also pack a few snacks in your bag. They may save you life when you forget to eat lunch amidst the BEA chaos.

Schedules & Time Management - Build off of the schedule BEA has made available and set priorities. Use an excel spreadsheet, color coding, or whatever you need to, but map out the signings and panels you want to attend and rank them. If you have three things to do in one hour, designate one that you can skip if you are short on time. It will help you make quick decisions on the spot.

Easy carrying - Not carrying your books at all is the easiest way to take the strain off your back. There is a baggage area where you can check a rolling suitcase, and stop by occasionally throughout the day to drop of your books. If security is your concern, someone stays at the baggage area at all times. I've heard there were instances of books going missing from that area two years ago, but I don't know if someone watched over the bags then. I didn't hear any horror stories from last year. While you'll get plenty of tote bags at BEA, the best advice I can give you is to bring a bookbag or messenger bag to hold your personal belongings, books and all the totes you accumulate. It'll take the stress off individual arms.

Shipping - There is a shipping area at BEA run by FedEx (I believe), but depending on how much you are shipping it can get pricey. Your other option is to hang on to your books and walk the few blocks from the Javits Center to the post office so you can ship your BEA bounty via priority or media mail and save yourself some cash.

Armchair BEA - For those of you who can't attend BEA this year, you can live vicariously through those who are going. Sign up as a participant for Armchair BEA and get updates on all things BEA.
I think that's it for now...

 I'm not affiliated with BEA in anyway. I did attend last year and am happy to answer questions if anyone has any. Just leave it in the comments. Otherwise, I'll see you all at BEA!


  1. -Sigh- every time I see these kind of posts it makes me wish I was going to BEA more and more but I won't be going to the Javits center until October for the New York Comic Con and Anime Festival.

    Next year though I'll definitely have to go to BEA.

    Thanks so much for the tips! I may not be able to use them for May but I'll definitely use some of them for October.

  2. Oh my goodness--this was SO helpful. Thank you! Especially the bit about the metro. I was wondering about that, and $28 for a week isn't bad at ALL!

    I have a couple questions :)

    You said get your BEA badge early. Does that mean getting there super early to retrieve it, or is there a way to print it off online?

    Are there usually street vendors around the Javits Center? I know outside food it pretty cheap :) And good, but that's just my opinion!

    Would you recommend bringing a rolling suitcase? I was thinking about doing that, because shipping seems so extreme.



  3. I Eat Words -- You have to get there early to retrieve it at the registration desk. You can just arrive early on the first day of exhibits or go Monday.

    The only street vendor I ever saw last year wasd the hot dog guy. It was delicious though and cheap.

    As for the rolling suitcase, that's a personal choice. I didn't bring one last year and just checked a large tote bag. I kept my backpack with me at all times and dropped books off in the tote when I needed to.

  4. This was incredibly helpful! Thanks so much!

  5. And you are still surprised that everyone looks to you for the game plan?

    Have a great time at BEA. Another year missed for me, but I'm determined that nothing will bar me from going next year.


  6. Great suggestions! I've gone two years in a row so I've decided to sit this one out, but BEA will be in NYC until 2015, so I'm sure I'll go next year. Have fun!

  7. Thanks for these great tips! I'm attending BEA for the first time this year and am trying to figure out the best way to plan and navigate the event!

    If you're going this year, I hope to see you there!