A BEA Review and What Happens in Bookstores After Hours

First, let me apologize for the delay. I have a good excuse for Thursday: I was at BookExpo America (BEA) all day, and then I had to do group work, and then I had an adventure. However, for yesterday and today (I haven’t gone to sleep yet, therefore I still count this as Saturday), my only excuse is that the weather was nice and I had some free time to explore this magnificent city.

We scored the new copies of An Abundance of Katherines.

So I wanted to talk about BEA. This was the first time they opened it to the public for a day, so this was the first time NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute students got to go. In short, it was fantastic. If you follow any publisher or author, I’m sure you’ve seen the tweets about the expo (Maureen Johnson’s, as usual, were particularly entertaining). I wouldn’t say it was a religious experience to be there…I mean, it wasn’t a pilgrimage or anything. But it was amazing to be there, and to feel part of something. After three days of publishing talk, for a few hours I could remind myself what I’m working so hard for and why I’m doing everything I am doing: the books. I got to talk to a few publishers, and I was there for the unveiling of the new An Abundance of Katherines cover, which was really neat. I really enjoyed wandering through the digital section and seeing what companies were doing on that end of the spectrum. But mostly, I got a lot of books. I topped out at 15. My roommate somehow manages to get 20 books and a ton of really sweet swag. In all it was a fascinating day that left me with a lot to think about and even more to read. Things didn’t get crazy until that night.

One of my friends got invited to a BEA after party at an awesome little bookstore in SOHO and asked us to go with her. I had a brief “What is my life?!” moment while riding the subway over there; I was on the metro in New York City on my way to an exclusive publishing party. Ridiculous, right? Anyway, somehow, I found myself in an awesome little independent bookstore surrounded by publishing people, and it was great. We got some great advice from a former editor, I ran into an author who I’d worked with at LeakyCon’s LitDay, and my friend even got into a heated debate about Amazon. Oddly, in a place where I thought I’d stick out the most, I felt more at home than I had in days.

Now, impromptu party-attending is not usually my style, especially on a school night. I like to plan, and I usually like to know at least someone who is going to be there. And going to the bookstore may seem like a small thing, but it felt like a bigger thing. For one day, I got to go to BEA and hang out with a bunch of professionals who love books. And one day, I’ll be on the other side of all that; hopefully I’ll be behind one of the tables, and I’ll be one of the professionals. But for now, I just feel lucky to have had the chance to be there.

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