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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Post-BEA Post

If you follow a lot of book blogs then I'm sure you will have seen plenty of BEA wrap-up posts over the weekend. I'm going to add my voice to the chorus (are we a chorus? Maybe 'teeming horde' would be the more appropriate phrasing). For anyone reading who doesn't follow other blogs (that would probably just be my Nonna), BEA is BookExpo America. It's definitely the biggest book trade show in North America thus it is the biggest book industry event on the continent. That's impressive. Also, it's overwhelming. I thought about titling this post "On Being Horrible at Networking" but I'm hoping it will turn out to be more than that.

So, BEA. I went into this whole thing totally blind. Frankly, the internet was not very helpful in telling me what to expect. All I read about BEA from years past in other blogs was "wear comfortable shoes" (that I did, my friends, that I did). Not knowing what to expect leads to no expectations, and if you have no expectations you can't be disappointed, right? That's a good thing. The only thing I really expected out of BEA was to get an advance copy of Jeffrey Eugenides' new book "The Marriage Plot" which I have been waiting for since 2003 when I read "Middlesex" (also known as one of the best books ever). That didn't happen. But I wasn't that disappointed because in his speech at one of the author breakfasts BEA hosts, Eugenides said "I just finished it yesterday." Hearing him talk about the process was almost as good as reading a new book, so I can wait a little while.

I'm getting ahead of myself again...Day One of BEA was, for me, on Monday. It was the American Booksellers Association's Day of Education. I cannot tell you how awesome this was. I love, love, love getting together with other booksellers and discussing what's going on in our stores. Literally, it is exhilarating. Everyone shares ideas and talks about what's working in their corners of the world. And everyone is passionate about exactly what I am passionate about: books! Talking about books and sharing books. It makes me understand things like ComicCon (that's a kinda true joke). I learned so much and came back with so many new ideas to integrate into my store. If the whole week had been like this one day it would have been one of the best of my life.

Then on Tuesday the floor opened. The floor is the (monstrous, gargantuan) area where various publishers and vendors set up booths to display their wares. I was originally looking forward to this. Having no idea what to expect I guess I sort of started to expect what I wanted to happen. In my mind, I would walk into a booth, talk about the upcoming books and their authors, schedule some signings, get some ARCS. Basically I thought I would be courted by the publishers. Publicists would see my badge and think "she's a bookseller! My authors will want to go to her store!" That's not really what happened. That's actually not what happened at all.

I spent the entire first day wandering around like a lost kitten wondering why no one wanted to talk to me. Then I realized that one must be assertive. There are thousands of people here (that is not an exaggeration); the pubs can't talk to everyone - make them want to talk to you. Well, as stated earlier, I am bad at networking. Luckily, I'm part of a team. John (aka the husband and co-owner in this bookstore endeavor) and Jaime (aka totally awesome new friend, blogger at bookmarkedblog.com, and future employee of CHB) each talked up publishers and authors and made connections to score future events. That's what BEA is all about.

BookExpo was a pretty intense experience. It's huge and a bit overwhelming. But it can be a lot of fun if you are ready for it. From hearing authors speak every morning at breakfast to being one of the first to get your hands on the IT book of next season to making those all important contacts, BEA definitely offers a lot. I just wasn't quite ready for it. Next year though, it's on New York.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you seem to feel better about the experience!! It was extremely overwhelming, but I'd like to think it'll get better and better each year as we grow and make new contacts. In a few years publishers WILL be courting us!



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