What I Learned At BEA (Book Expo America)

It can not be too early to start talking about BEA.. certainly we are about 8 weeks out (or is it 7) and I am already counting down the days!  😀

Last year I did something that was new to me and I can not wait to share it with you!  I too a flight from Minnesota to New York to attend BEA.  Now if you are anything like me, a little introverted… but really want to experience BEA – I want to share with you how I did it, and what I learned so if you are planning to attend this year (and SSSQQQQUUUEEEEEEE for you if you are!) I am hopeful that my experience can help you plan for an exciting trip.

First off let me just say if you are at all considering doing BEA but not sure…. and what if… and….. STOP IT.  Stop it now and go – RUN I TELL YOU, and get signed up.  Seriously…. BEA is about one of the best things I ever did for myself and I will rave about it forever.  😀

So here is how it went down for me last year.

So… I was fairly new to blogging…. heard the low rumbles about something called BEA and as I watched on Twitter I learned that BEA stood for Book Expo America and it was a big huge book event in New York that many book bloggers were planning to attend.  Honestly, I had never heard of such a thing before.  An event that was all books…. major books…. oh and those people I have come to chat with frequently on-line… yeah, they would be there.  I could actually meet them in person.


SO right there I am interested… but nervously so…. I have flown many places before with my family…. but never alone.  This was so unlike me to decide to jump on a plane and go to New York – a place I had never been… never thought about going to…. and seriously here came the questions…

Who would I know?

Where would I stay?

How would I get places?

How expensive would this be?

Was I crazy?  😯

But I really really wanted to go…. so…. first off I connected with someone I felt safe with.  I had never met Reagan from Miss Remmer’s reviews but we had chatted through comments on our blogs and on Twitter.  I knew she was from Minnesota (SAFE!) and was a teacher (SAFE!).  Through emails we both decided we were going to do this  and do it together.

As we looked at prices we discovered that New York hotels were not cheep…. so we decided to look for roommates.  But who?  We went on Twitter…. we posted on our blogs…. and people responded…. within a few weeks we had roommates and they had all sent me their share of the hotel room which I had secured.

They were:

Care from Care’s Online Book Club

Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness

Esme from Chocolates and Croissants

All women who I had never met…. but we emailed each other… I peaked at their blog posts…. found them to be just like me… and we had a plan.

So – here is my advice:

Read up on anything you can on BEA – I read the BEA website forwards and backwards…. a group of wonderful bloggers all got together and did a post a day about BEA and their experiences and advice and I literally took notes…

the best advice I picked up from them and used was:

1.  Bring a large book bag to put your books in (seriously I can not emphasize this enough).  You will get book bags there, but if you have a large comfy bag that you can toss in a little coin purse, a bottle of water or two and fruit or a granola bar you are set! Do not plan on carrying a desperate purse – many areas of the Javits are crowded and extra baggage will be something you will regret.

2.  Dress comfy but nice…. you will be meeting authors and publishers and you are representing your blog.  It’s a hobby, but at BEA it is also like your business….Oh and wear comfy shoes – you will walk A LOT.

3.  There is food in the Javits Center but it is pricey… I ate the continental breakfast at our hotel and grabbed an extra piece of fruit/yogurt when I left… have a few snacky items to tie you over.

4.  Friends told my New York was super expensive to eat there and I was worried but honestly, I found it not to be bad… very similar to Minnesota.  Yes, I am sure you can find expensive places but even when we ate out at a couple nice places it was about 14 – $20 for a dinner, and on the low-end – we ate at an awesome Thai restaurant (what was it called Esme – Yum Yum?) it was about $12 and three courses that was DELICIOUS!  I can not wait to eat there again.

5.  Our hotel was a few blocks off from Times Square (SSSSSQQQUUUEEEE!!!!) and about 6 blocks from the Javits Center.  We walked everywhere and only used a cab a couple of times when it was dark to get back to our hotel.  we booked our hotel this year in the same area.

6.  ***DO NOT book a lot of things before you arrive.  Yes it is New York… yes there is much to see and do…. but this advice was priceless.  People asked me to book shows and events with them prior to BEA and I said no…. I am so glad I did.  Every night we were invited to have dinner with authors, with fellow bloggers, one night there was a book blogger party… all of this I would have missed had I filled my evenings with shows.  Instead, when I booked my stay, I booked it one day longer than BEA so that last day I could explore New York and do a show…. Esme from Chocolates and Croissants did this with me… we seen The King Tut Exhibit and went to Mama Mia…. it was awesome. 😀

5.  Plan your book mailings wisely.  Even though I had heard that at BEA you would be given books… I really had no idea.  None.  As soon as the doors opened that first day I was pushed with the crowd into the main area and into a table where a book was thrust into my hands.  Seriously.  I will never forget it… that book was I Am Number Four and I had never heard of it.

When my book bag became full I found Fed Ex on the main floor, boxed up the books and waited in line to mail the box to myself at home.  That first standard size box cost me around $30.  Later that day I discovered UPS downstairs which was a better set up.  There they had long tables and you could grab a box and write your name all over it and leave it down there.  Then you could make frequent trips to your box and fill it as the day went on.  When that box was full I taped it up and waited in line to mail it to me… around $40.  A bigger box, not bad but still… I could spend a lot at this rate.

Then I discovered the post office was about 8 blocks from the Javits Center.  Now this is a commitment as I hauled three book bags to the post office – however when I boxed up that large box (and I put everything in it, books, t-shirts, pins, pens, swag of all kinds) it was $18 to send the box to me media mail.  BINGO.  This is the way to go.  😀  I also noticed some wise people brought to the center pull behind suitcases that they filled and then wheeled to their hotels or post office… not a bad idea either.

7.  Absolutely invest in business cards.  I bought a box of 500 through Vista Print last year… I probably still have about 200 left but I gave out a lot of them to fellow bloggers, publishers, etc…  I paid around $19 for the cards and was very happy with them.

8.  My final advice… you can sleep when you get home.  😛 Keep your ears open, be friendly, meet people and go to where the action is.  I was tired…. but every night I had plans and that is part of the experience.

Me and two of my roomies: (R) Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, me, and Care from Care's On Line Book Club

I found book bloggers to be exactly who I felt they were by reading their blogs.  I did not meet one person who did not seem genuine.  We all chatted like we were old friends and I loved how we could recognize each other by our blogs…. I can not even put into words what an amazing experience this was.  I knew right away I wanted to go again this year and any other year if possible…

I am attending again with Reagan (Miss Remmer’s Reviews).  The only thing we are planning differently is that this year we are just doing us two in the room.  Our hotel room was extremely small last year (I never seen anything like that)… New York values space and every building is TALL – not wide.  Same goes for the rooms.  Our beds last year to my surprise, were full size…close quarters for a room full of girls I had never met before.  🙂  And the shower/bathroom time was interesting to get us all in and out.  It was good none of us spent a lot of time in the room.  This year it costs us more, but worth the space.

If you are planning to go – please let me know, I would love to meet you in person! I will be taking my laptop and I will be on Twitter throughout the event (#bookjourney).

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on March 31, 2011, in Book Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 79 Comments.

  1. I really wanted to make it this year, but it didn’t work out. This seems like some great advice. I look forward to reading about your adventures this year.

  2. I think you covered everything! I can’t go this year unfortunately, but I’m looking forward to reading about everyone’s experiences.

  3. Sheila, reading this post made me so excited about going again this year — and for longer, too!

  4. I so wish I could go!

  5. Wow…that was thorough and very informative and you are one brave girl…I live an hour away from NYC and I keep thinking about it but am not sure…if I can do this…it sounds fun but stressful…My husband wants to come to carry books but…I just don’t feel ready enough yet…I have to blog more to manage it…It is not New York…we get there often enough…it just seems overwhelming!!!

  6. What a great and informational post! I went to BEA in LA (2008) and from that experience, I learned a lot about what I SHOULD have done…like have one of those rolling suitcases and have found a way to mail things to myself.

    I drove down, though, with my son and daughter-in-law and we did our own stuff in the evenings.

    I would love to do the whole NY thing and join other authors and bloggers in the evenings. Someday….

  7. It sounds like a blast. And someday I’d love to attend. No way I could take off work this year so I’ll have to experience through those lucky ones that get to be there.

  8. It sounds like such a brilliant event. What a pity I live a continent too far! Just flying over and postage would probably be so much, I might as well wait for the books to come out and buy them. But for the atmosphere and meeting up… ah, would love it!

  9. Sounds like some good advice!

  10. Fantastic advice! I hope that I will be able to go next year. My sister loves New York and books and although she isn’t a book blogger or librarian I hope to drag her along with me so I’ll know where to go.

    I hope you have a great time and look forward to hearing about your experiences.

  11. Great advice! I can’t wait to see you again!

  12. Looks like it’s not in the cards for me again this year. I have a trip to Michigan to save for which is in August…my 25 year class reunion…yikes! Maybe 2012 will be my year. *fingers crossed* Hope you have a great time (I know you will)!

  13. I wish I could go again this year but Jason has a conference in Baltimore the week before BEA and I’ll be with him at that one. I can’t really go to NYC the week after Baltimore and expect someone to be able to pick up my kids from school…ah well! Maybe next year right?

  14. Sounds like a fun time. I only started my blog a short time ago so I don’t think I’ll attend (plus I’m moving, got a new job, selling a house, etc.).

    You should look into hotels in NJ. They are less expensive and the transportation by train is reliable and fast.

    • Ahhh…. but I like the quick jaunt to the Javits and being in community with the other bloggers…. the trip is my treat for blogging and reviewing and really makes it soooo worthwhile 😀

  15. Thank you very much for your post about the BEA. I have wanted to go for the past two years, when I learned that book bloggers were welcome. I hope all of you give us feed back this year.

    • Carolina I hope you are able to go one of these years…. BEA was a lot like my love for talking books but instead of my typing in my chat …. I was doing ti live with fellow books lovers who I already felt I knew from chatting on line with them 🙂

  16. I’ve contemplated blogging about books before, but the prospect of being able to go to BEA really makes me want to jump in!

  17. Great post – you make it sound like so much fun! I wish that I could go, maybe next year!

  18. Great post! I so wish I could go to BEA, but oh well… someday for sure!

  19. These sound like really useful tips. While I am not going to BEA, I am going to BBC. Are you?

  20. I’m lucky in that I live in Boston, so it’s a really easy trip for me. I’m absolutely going! I’ve been thinking of living it up and staying in the Library Hotel, which seems like an easy walk to the convention center. And thanks for the rolling bag suggestion–I’m definitely going to do that!

  21. I wish I could find something like that over here!

  22. Wow this sounds amazing – if only they would bring something like this to the UK.

    Also is that your own book shelf it looks like a mini library – amazing!

    Have a nice day 😀

    • Actually that picture was taken in Strand which is a book store in New York. 🙂 We had to make a point of stopping there… know for its “18 miles of books”… I believe it 😀

  23. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I’m going to the Book Blogger Convention and heading in a day earlier to check out BEA, too. And I’m terrified (but telling myself that it’s really excitement!)

    This is such a big help!

  24. I really wish I could go, but the scheduling didn’t work out well this year (my husband wasn’t sure if he’d have a business trip at the same time). So as a treat he sent me to Tucson for the festival of books instead, which was also much cheaper because I stayed with friends.

    I hope I get to go someday!

  25. I am coming! I am so excited. Thanks for this run down on what you learned last year.

    I am mostly a classics/nonfiction/children’s lit blogger — I don’t read much modern fiction, but I”m still excited to get the BEA experience, and I suspect I still will end up with some books that I’ll love!

    I am coming in Tuesday night — so I’ll miss a little BEA — and then my husband is coming Friday night and we’ll be there til Monday, so I anticipate I’ll get plenty of site seeing in after the books events. I am really looking forward to BBC especially. How great it will be to meet everyone!

  26. I have heard many things about BEA. How every blogger in US and CA are “desperate” to attend the expo. But this is the first time I read the details. Those pictures of books seems so delicious. XD

    I wish you will have fun like what you have last year Sheila. And please tell us what you get there.

    Tons of books seems waiting for you again. 😀

    • I will Aleetha 🙂 Watch for stuff going on the blogs too… last year a group of bloggers had an event for “armchair BEA” for those who did not attend…. I don’t know the details but it sounded fun 😀

  27. I’m coming!!! 😀 I’m so excited (and a bit terrified lol). I’ve traveled all over the world by myself but the thought of meeting all these people I talk to online is a bit scary!

    I’m going to have to be really careful with books, I won’t have much money to ship to myself (In Barbados…) and I’m on standby flights (student budget lol!) so I can’t have a crazy heavy suitcase.

    I will be going to both BEA and BBC, have a roommate to split the cost a bit and am literally counting down the days! 😀 I can’t wait!!!!

  28. It is SO like you to write up such a generous post of tips and encouragement to go. I won’t make it this year but maybe next. It is such fun – I am so glad I went and got to meet you! Leap of faith but book bloggers never disappoint, right!? Have a great time. I expect a FULL report when you get back home.

    • Thanks Care! I hope you do make it next year1 I plan to go as long as I can 🙂

      I want people to know that it was a scary step for me but became one of the highlights of my year 🙂

  29. This is all great advise Sheila. I wish I was able to go again this year but sadly I won’t be there physically but there in spirit.

    have fun 🙂

  30. I know a ton of people have commented here (and more probably will) so I hope you don’t mind if I share that I’m still looking for 1-2 more roommates. If anyone is going to BEA and doesn’t have a room yet please contact me!

    (Thanks Sheila – sorry for the advertising, but it’s getting down to the wire and I’d really love to save a bit of money by adding more roommates!)

  31. I’m so excited for BEA this year! I’m actually rooming with Kim–it’s nice that we got to meet at the Twin Cities Book Festival during the fall. I hope to see you and Reagan in New York! It’s right around the corner. I’m bookmarking your tips for later, I’m sure they’ll be super helpful.

  32. I have BEA on the brain today – I. CAN’T. WAIT. 🙂

    This year, I’m making two major changes:

    1. Comfortable shoes (I am still suffering from an ankle injury. I will wear my Asics if I have to.)

    2. Suitcase for Books. I had NO idea how many books we would get at BEA. I also made the sad mistake of toting around ALL of the books ALL day long until I could walk back to my hotel. BAD idea. I think I’m going to check a rolling suitcase this year. (Can’t justify spending $40 to mail my books 40 miles).

    • Nice advice here Alison. Living in Minnesota I will not take books in my suitcase one do the weight and two I think they would get all jostled around in the luggage area on the plane and I may have a suitcase of mulch 😛

      Greta idea about checking a rolling suitcase at BEA – I seen many people did that.

  33. I am a fellow MN blogger and this is my first year attending BEA. I am only going to be there the first couple days, but am super excited. I’ll keep an eye out for you there; it would be great to meet up with a fellow Minnesota!

    Anyway, if you are interested please stop by and check out my blog here: karissabooks.blogspot.com
    I love it when I run into fellow bloggers in the MInneapolis area!

  34. This was an awesome post! I posted an introductory (to me) page for BEA because of Reagan. Love her and her blog!

    Thanks for all the great tips- I’m a newbie at BEA this year 🙂

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