A Guide To BEA – What to bring, wear, do, see, money, etc…

Their definition:  BEA:  Book Expo Of America – an event that takes place yearly for book sellers, media, and publishing houses and authors all to mingle together in promoting books that will be coming out yet this year and possibly next spring.

My definition:  Heaven for Book Lovers.  

Before my love affair with book reviewing, I had never heard of BEA.  In 2010 when I first did finally hear about it and what it was… I only knew one thing…. I had to go.

For me – this was HUGE.  I didn’t plan trips alone.  I didn’t just go off on a whim, to states I had never been to before, but this had to happen.  I connected with a couple of bloggers on-line that I planned to be roommates with to cut that cost down.  And I went.  LOVED IT.  Went again in 2011….LOVED IT! And now I am on schedule to go again this next week.  I can’t explain the magic of being surrounded by books and book lovers for almost a full week.  All I can say is that if you are ever considering going, GO.  Don’t hesitate.

So what got this little girl from Central Minnesota to go to New York and feel confident enough to do it?  Well, honestly, Book Bloggers.  In 2010 a group of book bloggers decided to each take a day for a week and write a post about what to expect at BEA.  I devoured everything I could about the subject. 

I am going to pass on to you now what I learned either on my own, or through others, but all of it valuable if you are new to the BEA experience.  Some of this I wish I had known going in….  I am happy to pass it on to you and hope there is something you can take from this.


What to pack?

At the Expo I would suggest wearing business casual – jeans and a nice shirt, capris or springy skirts for women, cargo style pants… remember you are there representing your blog.  Pack one outfit a little dressier for an evening out… maybe a pair of dressier pants or skirt with a couple different tops. Definitely pack  comfortable shoes, even if you are like me, and wearing a heel doesn’t bother you if you are on your feet all day.  You will walk the exhibit floor many many times for hours each day.  You may be walking through New York as well to check out the sites.  Myself and Reagan walked almost everywhere… not only did it save money on taxi’s but we could see things so much better than from inside a car. 

Also – a little trick I picked up for myself, pack a couple unfolded boxes  in your suitcase and your own packing tape.  The shipping companies (I will get to them below) will charge you for the box – and if you use the post office (which I will recommend) they will also have you buy the tape. 



What to expect?

So this is a picture of me year one…. LOL, ok not exactly me, but yeah…. pretty much.  When we got to the Javits Center that first day people were lined up hours before it opened and of course, we got in line and hung out there.  When the doors did open I was pushed with the crowd into the center and right into a table where a book was jabbed into my hands.  “What is this craziness” I thought.  The book was I Am Number Four.  I had never heard of it.  Now, it is a movie….  crazy, crazy stuff…

After that – year two…. day one… looked like this:

Yup.  Reagan and I did not get in the line at all. We walked around a few exhibits on the outside of the main center.  Then we seen this abandoned Info booth with tall comfy chairs.  I told Reagan I was going to sit there, she said we shouldn’t but I said whats the worst that will happen…. they ask up to move?  The funny thing is, we started answering questions.  AND for awhile we had a line of people waiting to ask their question.  AND funnier yet, we knew the answers, so we were actually helpful…

Where is the children’s breakfast?

Where can we get maps of the exhibit area?

Where is Starbucks?

Can I still get tickets to Author breakfasts?

Where do I register?

When can I get into the exhibit hall?

My point in sharing this is to let you know to just have fun.  Once the doors open people rush in and you are in within minutes of the mob and that is much nicer. 

Once inside… have fun, everywhere you look you will find exhibits, in many cases, ARC’s of books as well.  Choose wisely… don’t hoard.  If you are not going to read it, don’t take it.  These publishing companies want to get the word out about their books and they want them in the hands of those who will do it.  Not just bloggers, but book sellers.  AND please be polite, going to the Expo is a privilege, not a right.  Say thank you when receiving a book.  Don’t push or grab.  Seriously, I seen some bad behavior from bloggers last year that was just embarrassing to all of us.  This may seem harsh – but if you are not mature enough to go….. don’t go.

Make a point to see the publishing houses that send you books.  Meet with them, introduce yourself… build on that blogger/publisher relationship. 

The books being handed out change frequently.  If you have a list of what you are hoping to receive an ARC of, watch your publishing booths for it.

Oh and the autograph area, that is so fun.  Books handed out by the authors and they are signed.  LOVE that.  Be sure to notice the box that says recommended donation per book $1.00. 

Of course – you will see bloggers too…. but that… is another topic. 😀

Oh yeah, and I know this post is late so I apologize, a business card is wonderful to put into publishing houses hands that you want to connect with, as well as exchanging with the bloggers you meet.  I get mine through Vista Prints…. 500 cards, custom two-sided…. $34.00

Authors, and Publishers, and Bloggers…. oh my!

One of the best things I was told that first year I attended was to not overbook yourself.  As a newbie to New York I had an agenda…. I wanted to see an exhibit, I wanted to go to a show…

That first year one on my roommates and I (*waves at Esme from Chocolates and Croissants*), stayed an extra day after everything ended.  That was the best thing I did. 

The reason you do not want to overbook yourself with commitments too early is that new offers may come up.  You could meet up with a group of bloggers friends who all want to go out to dinner, or you may get an invite to hang out with authors or publishers and it would be sad if your favorite author invited you to come and hang out with a group and you have to bow out because you have tickets to Wicked…. (not that Wicked would not be incredible to see on Broadway!)  😛

Both years that I have attended I have had something going on every night and occasionally two things.  The publishing houses have get together, I went to dinner with my roommates and a group of new authors which was so much fun because they had questions for us like how to do giveaways or promote their books which was so cool because one of those authors has since made a movie deal with that first book.  AWESOME.  I also connected with many other bloggers who would get together for dinner…. oh and that bonus day?  I took in the Harry Potter Exhibit, and the first year seen Mama Mia, and last year Mary Poppins.  😀

And still… I bought a ticket for my first time this year to an authors breakfast and two weeks later received an invite to a brunch being hosted by one of the publishing houses… same day and same time as the author breakfast.   Uhh… yeah, I am going to the brunch.  😆

**Absolutely make time to connect with your fellow book bloggers…. it is so fun to meet in person and you could make friends for life.  (Reagan (Miss Remmers Reviews) called me this past February on my birthday and sang to me over the phone)….. priceless.



Make a Schedule and check it twice!

Packing a little notebook/agenda with you is a great idea.  You can capture information for upcoming books, and addresses for possible meet ups.  It is useful for putting where you need to be and when.  When you are invited to Publishing houses you want to have the times written down and addresses…. this will also help you so you don’t double book or you can at least look at times to events if you need to try to make two…

Seriously, BEA and all that surrounds it makes me laugh and say “Is this really my life, dinner with authors and cocktails with Publishers?  😀



Stretching the dollars!

That first time I was going to BEA a friend of mine here in Brainerd told me “Food is expensive there, you can easily spend $50+ on a meal.  That freaked me out a bit.  Well, I can honestly tell you that yes, if you want to go out and have a great New York experience, you certainly can and find high price and meals worth taking pictures of (uhhh…. I have), however I found prices to be not that different from where I live here.  Your going out to a nice dinner (without drinks) will cost between $8 and $20.  You can also stop and pick up a slice of pizza or a burger for a few bucks…

In the hotels I stayed in the past two years they had continental breakfast so I would eat there and grab an extra banana or apple for my bag I carried to the Javits Center.  The Javits has food available but it is a bit pricey!  I would recommend bringing a bottle of water with you and maybe an energy bar or granola.  Outside the Javitz and not too far walking distance are many restaurants that are nice too for a lunch break and a chance to sit down. 

Also – coffee drinkers like me, grab your joe on the way to the Javits… the line that wraps around Starbucks in the early start up hours has been known to be up to a 40 minute wait.  Been there.. done that….


How do I get my books home?

No doubt even if you are new to the BEA experience, you have heard about the wonderful opportunity to take home some much coveted reads?  As you travel the hallways and aisles you will pick up some books.  I can not even imagine any book lover being able to pass on  them all… and that leads to the next question… how do you get them home?

The Javits Center offers Fed Ex and UPS in the building for your convenience.  On the main floor you will find Fed Ex and I think the first box (and only box) I sent through them that first year was a standard size box and I paid around $45 to have that shipped.  My next box I took downstairs (by where you register that first day) and that is UPS.  The beauty of UPS is that they let you grab a box in the morning (no charge) and fold it tape it and write your name all over it and leave it down there on a long table and you can add to it all day long.  Once full, they have people right there that will assist you and ship it.  That 2nd box cost me around $32.00.

Then… I learned that there was a post office not all that far from the Javits.  You can fill up a book bag or two and then go to the post office and ship from there.  (This is where the tape and boxes I mentioned in your packing come in).  For a large size box at the post office with insurance I paid around $18.00 media mail.  It takes a few days longer that UPS or Fed Ex but by the end of the week I returned home, the boxes were there.   Here is a link to a map of the are around the Javits.

That’s about all I have for now.  I am sorry I am posting this so close to event time… I have been planning it for weeks but life and stuff… 😀 

For those who have gone before, please add any advice you can think of to the comments below.  I appreciate your input and I am sure I am forgetting much 😀

Oh and one more thing, remember that year two picture of Reagan and I at the info booth, over an hour later the dude that was scheduled to be working there showed up and I got a picture:

Oh and P.S.  If you are going and want to connect, let me know.  I am going to email out my cell number to my regular readers who wish to meet.

Here are a couple other BEA posts I have seen recently:

Miss Remmers Reviews

The 3 R’s Blog

45 thoughts on “A Guide To BEA – What to bring, wear, do, see, money, etc…

  1. The same thing happened to me! Two breakfasts at the same time (and I’m choosing the one at the publishers). Do you know if I can give the author breakfast ticket to someone else or return it? I love all your stories. Thanks for the tips on mailing boxes and coffee. I seriously would die an overdramatic and hyperbolic death if I had to wait 40 minutes for coffee. 🙂

    1. I am thinking (hoping) we can give our ticket away – or maybe we can transfer it to a different day? Anyone know out there? 😀

      Our hotel last year was close to a Mr Donut so we would hit that up on our way to the Javits every morning 😀

      1. Very awesome. I’m staying with a friend, so he’ll have to point out the good coffee places so I can drink and walk. I am so excited!

  2. I want to meet you! We can pinky swear in real life!

    I am so excited for my very first BEA. I’m only going to be there for Monday & Tuesday (and the Random House brunch on Wed), but I think that’ll be a good start to my BEA adventures. And yes, I’m already planning next year’s trip!

    Thanks for all your tips! I need to remember to bring water & a snack along with me.

    1. Oh yes!!!!! We have to do that! LOL 😛 I will email you my cell so we can meet up! I came back last year and put in for my time off as soon as I had returned. This is my “must” time with books 😀

  3. What an informative post! I wish I were going and could take advantage of it all….but someday. The last time I went, it was when it was in LA (2008). These pointers would have been helpful then!

    Love how you and Reagan set yourselves up in the Info Booth. Hilarious!

    1. Right! But then… you can always get excited for next year! 😀 You do some other book conventions as well right? I would love to try another one as well just so I can be that excited twice a year….LOL 😀

  4. Great post Sheila! Heaven for book lovers indeed! Agree that you need to choose wisely, as I’m embarrassed to admit that I still have a few unread ARCs from last year. *blush*

    Hope to hook up with you somewhere along the line, as I remember running into you during my first BEA! I remember squeeeing when I recognized you, as I was so excited! 😀

    1. I have them too – unread Arcs…. not that I didn’t mean to read them – and I still will…. but yeah, sometimes it takes longer than I think it will.

      LOL – I hope to catch you again too! 😀

  5. Very helpful advice! I was planning on packing a USPS flat-rate box (or two) but would have forgotten the tape! Am jealous of your invites from publishers, but guess I have to work on my clout (or lack thereof). 😉

  6. One day I would love to go to BEA. It sounds like you are now a pro and I hope people going have the chance to read your post. Have fun!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this! This will be my first time going to BEA and I am super excited as well as nervous. I look forward to seeing you there!

  8. Ok so this is the first time that I am going (my mothers book club is taking me). I love books and I have read hundreds of them but I am not a blogger neither am I in the publishing industry and I know that once the doors open my mother and her friends are going to dump me. So I wanted to ask you, should I go to begin with? Will I have anything to do there? Like I don’t want to take some bodies time with dumb questions. Though I would like to talk to publishers about doing internships and I heard Veronica Roth is going to be there signing. But I still don’t know.

      1. No my mom is going on Wednesday. I wanted to go on Thursday but my mom had already paid for my ticket for that day.

  9. Sheila. Can you believe this time next week we will be at BEA? Crazy. I am so looking forward to finally meeting you. Great tips and you said it pefectly. I was thinking of shipping books home but I am worried about the border. So I might just bring them home via the suitcase and the train LOL

    I got that same breakfast invite. What to do?

  10. THANK YOU so much for all this information. This is my first year to go. This was very helpful.

    Can we go in and out all day or are we stuck inside once you are in? The reason I am asking is that my son lives and works in Manhattan and I was going to take any books I get to his office and come back.

    I am looking forward, but am also a little apprehensive. I know it will be overwhelming. I am going alone.

    I hope to see you and other bloggers there.

    THANKS again. This is great information.


    Silver’s Reviews


    Found you on the Literary Blog Hop List and decided to stop over. I sure am glad I did.

    Stop by my blog if you like. I have a giveaway going on if you need any books…ha ha.


    1. Hi Elizabeth! How exciting – I am so glad you are going!

      Yes you can come and go as you please. After you check in that first day your badge will get you in and out. Great idea with your books!

      Look for bloggers and talk to the publishers… once inside, I pretty much hang alone too… there is just so must to see and do it is hard to stick with people. Are you going to the Monday Bloggers conference? That will be a great way to meet some other bloggers and make connections.

      I am glad you stopped in too 🙂 Look me up if you see me there! 😛

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