Its hard to believe that Book Expo is a few weeks away. Sadly I won’t be able to attend like I was hoping that I would and that is due to spraining my ankle really badly at the end of October and since then even though I have done physio on it I don’t think I could push it to walk all over Javitis without being in serious pain the whole time so for this year even though I am not physically there I am there in spirit.
Book Expo is happening once again in New York City at the Jacob Javitis Center and its running from May 30th to June 1st with Book Con following on the 2nd and 3rd.
Since I am sure there will be quite a bit of first timer’s going I thought I would share some of my tips on how to survive going to Book Expo. I have been lucky enough to attend BEA (formally known as Book Expo America) in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Please note that by no means am I an expert its just stuff that I have seen or has happened to me in the last four times I have gone. Please share any tips you have or may want to know.
1) Comfortable shoes. This is going to be repeated over and over but trust me you will do a lot of walking around NYC and Javitis. I had shoes that I thought were comfy but my first day in NYC I ended up getting blisters which meant I had to rush out and buy sneakers. Funny enough it seemed like I could not get my size anywhere. The second year I went I had on comfortable shoes and I enjoyed NYC and BEA much more then the previous time. Trust me if your feet are sore you won’t have fun. Just a little timbit of information make sure you pack a little ziploc baggie with bandaids to have on hand just in case a blister should happen)
2) Pack lightly. The first year I went I literally over packed and since then I have packed just enough for the amount of time I was in NYC for and one or two extra tops just in case I went out. I admit I have a bad habit of over packing because really you never know what is going to happen, right? Plan out what you are planning on wearing before hand. Just remember that Book Expo is business casual. So make sure you are presentable because you will be spending days with business people. A good piece of advise would be to check what the weather will be like while your there and lay out what you want to bring and figure out what your going to be doing and go from there. You should also bring a light sweater with you to Book Expo because the first day is usually cool in Javitis and then it warms up as the day goes on.
3) Business cards. You will be handing out cards to all kinds of publishers and reps plus a few bloggers you meet. You might also want to bring a little zip lock baggie so that you can put the cards that you get in there. I usually put a pen in the bag so that I can make little notes on the cards. Ie where I met the person and who the person is etc trust me this helps once you get home.
4) Shuttle buses. Every year shuttle bus are provided to Book Expo attendees. Take advantage of them if you can. Just check where the nearest one is from your hotel. I took them in the morning and they were pretty quick but leaving at the end of the day is another story because you will be in rush hour. Also you should know that there is no shuttle buses running during the day so basically its the morning and afternoon.
5) Getting into Book Expo. I heard this has been a problem the first year I went. You don’t have to push, shove or cut to get in the show floor. Be patient and wait. Some people have been there way before you.
6) Snacks and water. Just a heads up eating at Javitis is super expensive. You honestly could buy three water bottles for the price you will pay inside plus lunch was super expensive inside as well. I bought a bottle with me and just refilled it and I made sure I had some snacks to tie me over. If your hotel provides breakfast you can grab an apple or banana. I am guilty of doing that. At the hotel I was staying at there had breakfast in a bag and I would grab one of those in the morning because there was also a muffin, water, fruit etc in the bag. Plan ahead. I heard that there was a food cart outside selling hotdogs so that could be a cheaper alternative to eating inside.
7) Another alternative to shipping. Suitcases aren’t allowed on the floor but you can check it in for a small daily fee (under $5 a day is what they charged the last time I was there). The section is downstairs. (As you walk in from getting off the shuttle buses) There is always someone there to watch over the suitcases. I didn’t have a problem with leaving my books in the suitcase. It helped when my arms were getting sore. Just a heads up to pin point your suitcase if its like everyone elses grab a scarf from the dollar store and tie it on the handles.
8) Shipping. There is shipping on site to ship your books home or you can walk to the nearest post office and use them. The only thing with shipping is I heard that some people take it upon themselves to raid other peoples boxes. I know this for a fact because it happened to a blogger I follow. So anything that is of value keep it with you. I just think for people to do that is just wrong. Its basically stealing in my eyes. So if you want your books to be save and sound I suggest the suitcase on wheels. Just remember there is no suitcases etc on the show room floor.
8a) Shipping. I just wanted to add to this because this happened to me in 2013. Before going to BEA research and find out where you can ship your books off site such as where is the nearest local post office, (Greeley Sqaure, 39 W 31st) Fed Ex (560 W 42nd Street), UPS (1357 Broadway & 601 W 43rd Street & 1514 Broadway inside the Toys R Us Lower level), because using Fed Ex and UPS on site will cost you more. I found out the box I had sent from there would have cost me half of what I would have paid had I took it off site. Trust me I kicked myself after that.
9) Be polite and professional. I know this is easier said then done but really what you do will reflect on you and all book bloggers. It takes just two seconds to say “Excuse Me” “Sorry” Thank You” you will be surprised at how far those words can go and mean to someone. Just remember your actions are going to be reflected on us as bloggers. Always say thank you to some who hands you a book or swag. Just remember Book Expo has been kind enough to allow bloggers to attend this professional event for a few years now.
10) Common sense and courtesy. If you are standing in line please don’t be saving spots for ten of your friends, other people behind you have been waiting just as long as you. What I mean by this is that if they have left their bags there then fine but if they just appear and cut the line then that is not cool. Personally I don’t mind one or two but when you text or call them to say the line is moving. (This has happened to me quite a few times my first year there.) Also if you see one person talking to another (in a line) and one person moves to talk don’t get all in there face and yell them out for line jumping that isn’t cool especially when they say they have no interest in the book. (I witnessed that and sadly I know the blogger that did that) and once I got home I ended up unfollowing that blog.
11) The displays, booths or other peoples boxes in shipping. This one might get me into trouble but just because your at Book Expo that doesn’t entitle you to just take something from a display or box (either a fellow attendees or in a booth or conference room) without permission. Always ask someone before you take something from a booth. Those boxes are sealed for a reason. As for the shipping area I really think that is wrong for you to go into someone’s box and take what ever you want. Its not your box, that person you are stealing from probably went through a lot of trouble to get those books. How would it feel if someone did that to you? Pretty crumby right?
11b) Books. This is probably easier then said but really I think it needs to be addressed. When books are being dropped in the publisher booths please take one. You don’t need to take one for a giveaway, ones for friends who couldn’t come etc unless you have been given approval from the publisher or rep. I have seen this every time I have gone and its a little disappointing to see bloggers grab handful of books and put them in their bags and then you get there and there is none left.
12)Keep the flow of traffic going. Don’t stop in the middle of the isle to chit chat with friends and start pulling out your books to show what you got. Move to the side if you want to do that. I don’t know how many people I bumped into because of that. The isle’s aren’t that big and you have to remember that there is alot of people walking around with bags full of books.
13) Getting around NYC. The best way to see the city is really to walk but if you can’t I have to suggest the subway. Its not as scary as it sounds although I wish the people who worked inside the booths were a little more friendlier and approachable. The subway system can be a little complicated so you should know where you are going. This was the most I ever walked around a city and I enjoyed it. Except when I got lost and no one seemed to know where anything was.
14) Sight seeing. Don’t go to NYC just for BEA get out and do some sight seeing. There is so much to see and do. This year I am hoping to get more sight seeing down and as its looking I know Monday and Friday will be those days for me possibly more.
So if your going have fun and remember going to Book Expo is a privilege, not a right. Don’t walk in there with entitlement thinking that you deserve to do whatever you want and that you are entitled to all the books just because you are a book blogger.