After Starbucks and pastry from Sullivan Street Bakery, it was time to haul the purple bag of awesome to Javits for the opening of BEA. As a crazy light packer, I had no luggage suitable for hauling back books and had spent an inordinate amount of time trying to locate a bag. Enter the purple bag of awesome…a monster of a piece of luggage that rolls and swivels all directions. It behaved admirably throughout the trip but did come through with a tons of surface scratches and had its TSA approved padlock stolen by, well, one can only assume TSA, on the voyage back home.
Upon entering the convention center and dropping off the purple bag of awesome, I made a direct path for the autographing area. At the top of the escalator I came face to face with these guys:
At the time, I had no idea what the costuming was for…they just struck me as almost Comic-Con like in their appearance. They’ll make another appearance later in a much less happy moment so stayed tuned for that. I’d risen early and arrived at the convention center with one “must do” item on my list: get an autographed copy of Because it is My Blood. It was the only book I didn’t search out for work related purposes but because both of my kids had specifically requested it. The exhibit floor was shockingly empty and the autograph area was still nice and quiet at this hour.
The author was late in arriving and other autographing lines were moving swiftly by the time she finally appeared. I spoke with her publicist for awhile regarding our state teen book awards while the books were signed. That objective accomplished, I was free to wander around the exhibit floor and get down to some serious work.
I had several meetings set up with various publishers and began to make my way around the floor. In the time it had taken me to get the autograph, the place had become a swarm of people. I know many book professionals have taken issue with book bloggers in the past but, with the exception of two incidents, I didn’t have a problem. I know I passed a lot of people jockeying for position and grabbing galleys as they were laid out. Whether those were bloggers or just grabby professionals, I have no idea but I’d imagine it was a mixture of both. Fortunately, I was attending with a specific purpose and was able to avoid the queuing up and fighting over titles.
Most of the titles I needed were ready and waiting for me when I approached a booth. Scholastic had the cushiest carpeting in the place and became a resting spot for many folks. Flux had the most clueless employees working their booth and I quickly deemed them impossible to work with (I should note that I’ve received an apology email and a list of available ARC’s since returning home). MacMillan? You gotta love them for their content but, seriously, could you maybe hire folks that read to represent you? I had to deal with one girl who was so very confused (she had to call for help because she didn’t know if they published a title I was inquiring about…the poster for the book release was perched beside her) and to make small talk she informed me how she hadn’t read a book in over 3 years. Perhaps at least tell her not to mention that to any random person that happens to walk by.
The friendliest booth was the Romance Writer’s of America group. I stumbled upon them returning from a meeting and their enthusiasm won me over. At the time, they had a couple of authors signing books and I struck up a conversation with both of them. It helped that right next to them was a booth selling knee high fuzzy socks. I love me some fuzzy socks. I headed back over to the autograph area, knowing it was going to be insanely crowded because it was almost time for the Molly Ringwald signing. Since I already had a copy of the book, I had no interest in standing in such an insane line to get a signature but she’s still just as cute as a button.
Hours and hours of the same thing…walking, chatting, being handed stack after stack of books and then heading to the next publisher is the real summary of BEA. Several publishers only brought certain titles out in preparation of signings due to space limitations and they would invariably ask me to come back at signing time to pick up that particular title. I was more than happy to do so if it was a title we were interested in or held promise as a potential teen award title. Enter the weird guys from the beginning along with about 500 other people.
Two hours prior to the scheduled signing of Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr, I headed over to the publisher’s booth. The line was insane. It wrapped around and around the other booths and little ropes were being erected to try and keep it organized. I had no intention of standing in line for a title that could always be mailed to me later so I began walking past the people sitting on the floor waiting for autographs. I passed the masked marauder guys and a gaggle of girls that were barely old enough to make the age cutoff for the event. As I tried to stroll past, one of the girls piped up that I was cutting in line and I’d have to go several miles back if I hoped to get a book. This emboldened the other girls who then proceeded to jump on the bandwagon and issue snotty remarks about how I should have arrived earlier, that there probably wouldn’t be any books left for me and how I was just going to have to buy it like all the other “older fans who are reading books for our age group.”
Well, hon, welcome to experience over youth.
I moved to visit with the publisher’s rep and, less than two minutes later, strolled back through the line that still had nearly 2 hours to wait to even get a glimpse of the title. Catty, yes, but I made a point to wave it at the snarky girls as I passed and threw a “enjoy your wait” over my shoulder before going on about my business.
When BEA finally concluded, I’d accomplished everything I needed to with the publisher’s present. While I had to make a post office run to mail 5 boxes of books home, the majority of my books are still arriving direct from the publishers and have been put in for teen award submissions as they arrive. A successful venture for mine (and our committee’s) first visit to BEA.