That headline could easily be disputed – even among book lovers. But after twenty years of walking the floors, manning booths, attending panels and hitting the after parties with my publishing colleagues, I cop to still being ready to pack a bag and head to where the action is come the end of May.
BookExpo America is the U.S. industry’s largest trade show – and even for those who have eschewed it in favor of Frankfort or London or any of the number of regional book fairs, I admit to still being drawn to the whirlwind week. I still enjoy the rush of having the first PW Show Daily in my hand, getting a lariat for my badge and diving into the madness, whether it be searching of galleys for my children, the hunt for a favorite author, or booth duty for our friends at Gallup Press.
I’m skipping the high heels this year (two decades, I have decided, earns one the rights to flats), and plan to make the most of my time there –fondly recalling the years I have reconnected with old friends (authors Tracy Kidder, Ethan Canin and Joe Kanon, one of my favorite bosses turned novelists) just by strolling the floor. Then there are the crazy moments – finding the Desperate Housewives of Somewhere in a booth nearby, exotic dancers in the lobby, alcohol breaks that start alarmingingly early or a singing legend with surprisingly strong views on design talking about her book. I also remember the snafus – the books that didn’t arrive for signings, the Miami trip where outdoor events were wet and indoor ones at venues with leaking roofs. I’ve done the show while pregnant twice, grateful that my third child was born in May sparing me a third go around of the floor with swollen ankles, surrounded by fearful looks that I might actually go into labor right there on the convention floor.
Enough about me, here’s what they are looking forward to:
Lew Campbell: “Interacting with our clients and members of the media face to face. I enjoy the autograph lines. It’s a lot of fun to meet the authors and bring home a signed copy of their latest work.”
Jessica Krakoski: “I’m most excited for the Author Breakfast on Wednesday – I cannot WAIT for Jeffrey Eugenides’ new book, and to see him with such a diverse panel should be a blast.”
Kaila Nickel: “BEA is an exciting (albeit overwhelming) experience, with so many people from the publishing community packed into one space. I’m looking forward to connecting with the people that I talk to frequently via email and twitter but rarely see in person.”
Rusty Shelton: “I am most excited about BookExpo America co-locating with BlogWorld East, one of the biggest social media conferences in the world. Your BEA badge gets you into the BlogWorld exhibit hall (though not the education sessions) and your BlogWorld badge gets you in to BEA. Tremendous value on both sides of the partnership. I can’t wait to take advantage.”
Dennis Welch: “I’ve been doing this long enough now that I have made many great friends on both the publishing and media side of the business. BEA is a chance to see many of them and find out what’s new in both their professional and personal lives. This should be a particularly exciting year because of all the changes in the publishing business. Should be a great time to learn about what next.”
I hope you’re coming, I hope to see you there and by all means, pack your comfortable shoes – you owe it to yourself whether it’s your first show your twentieth.