(Hey, this is my second recap of Book Expo America. Don't miss the first installment.)
On Wednesday, Kelly, Kim, Jen, and I all woke up early and, though the exhibits didn't open until 9:00, we headed down there, arriving at the convention center at 8:15. Yeah, this is how far back we were in line:
You see that area right in the middle of the picture? Where you can kinda see the tiny, far-away lights of the convention hall? That's where the exhibits were. So we parked ourselves and came up with a game plan. We decided to hit up Penguin first and then the other big houses that were almost sure to have big giveaways at the start.
We counted down...
Jen demonstrated her excited, about-to-get-free-books dance:
And then it was 9:00 and they let us in to the hall.Yeah, I don't have any pictures of this part. You know why? Because it was mad crazy. It was throngs of people, all pushing against each other, all frantic for books. I don't even remember which books we picked up that first morning because it was so ridiculously crazy that I just took whatever was in a pile or thrust into my hands, stuffed it in my bag, and moved on.
It was about then that I realized that BEA was NOT going to be like the ALA Exhibits. It was a whole lot crazier than I expected. And on Wednesday it was pretty much crowded the entire day. The lines for autographs were insane (and the lines at the autographing area were extremely hard to manage - in places you had to push through four layers of people to even get to the line you wanted to be in). The in-booth autograph lines stretched way down the aisles, making navigating the main aisles somewhat difficult.
We quickly learned to cut down lesser-used aisles to avoid the crush*.
I was disappointed in the morning because the big booths were so crazy with people that it was impossible to talk to anyone. Many of the big publishers did not have a lot of different titles to give out (even if you asked), but only had hundreds of copies of the few galleys that were being signed at the show. This is absolutely fine, but it wasn't what I was expecting, so I was a little thrown.
After the mad rush of the morning, things calmed down a little bit. Also, we set up our boxes in the shipping room and lightened our loads a little. THE SHIPPING ROOM! This sounds ridiculous, but it was my favorite thing about BEA. It was calm down there. Quiet. You could go in and rest your ears for a little bit, unload your books, and go back to the hall with a bounce in your step. Also, everyone working there was very nice and helpful. I love the shipping room! Here's what it looked like:
Ahhh, the shipping room.
At some point in the morning, Jen and I met up with Sarah from The Reading Zone and we all traversed the booths together. Sarah is super awesome and I am so glad to have met her after all this time of reading her blog (and, last year, working on the Cybils with her!). We perused and scooped up ARCs and checked out the autographing lines until we were hungry and then we stopped for $8.00 crepes at a stand in the hall. We sat on the floor and ate them. :) The lovely Sarah Darer Littman (author of Confessions of a Closet Catholic and the upcoming Life, After**) joined us for a bit and it was nice to chat with her.
The afternoon was more of the same - scoping out books, requesting a few titles, and then my three original traveling companions and myself staked out the autograph lines. We stood in line for Zombies Vs. Unicorns, being signed by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier*** and then we stood in another long line for Anna Godbersen who, as it turns out, was signing Splendor and a sample chapter of her upcoming Bright Young Things. I remain hopeful that there will be ARCs of BYT to be had, but it wasn't available at this conference****.
After that, we were all pretty much beat and we headed back to the hotel. Jen and I ventured back out for KidLit Drink Night, but we were so hot and tired that we only stayed until about 8:30. There were a TON of people there (of whom I only recognized about three...). I did chat with Sheila of Wands and Worlds and Betsy of A Fuse #8 Production*****. If I had been braver, I would have chatted with a lot more people, but having dealt with the masses at BEA all day, I wasn't up to the task. I'm sorry to any of you that I missed! I promise that I will be more social at the next KidLit Drink Night I have the good fortune to attend. (Whenever that may be...)
I did have the pleasure of seeing Bobby, a friend of mine from library school, who works at the Brooklyn Public Library. By the way, please help him keep his job!! I hadn't seen him in several years, so it was lovely to get together with him.
We all collapsed into bed at about 9:00pm, half excited about and half dreading the next day...
*Although the crush was kind of useful in some cases: "There's a bunch of people over there! They must be giving out something good! Let's go get it!"
** Which I have on my TBR shelf - I will make sure I get to it. It has a beautiful cover and Sarah gave me a poster of it!!
*** Who asked if we were Team Unicorn or Team Zombie. TEAM UNICORN, ALL THE WAY!! In fact, at my last library I was *captain* of Team Unicorn!
**** Which was really disappointing at the time, especially as it had been listed in PW's Kids' Galleys to Grab list, BUT now that I am not exhausted and overwhelmed, I realize that I was being a brat and should not look free sample chapters in the mouth!!
***** She is much taller than I thought she would be. And she had been to a Mockingjay party earlier in the evening - color me jealous!