I’m not sure if all booksellers do this, but I start planning my BEA (BookExpo America, the biggest annual industry event for publishers and booksellers) weeks in advance. It requires charts and folders, printouts of schedules of panels and signings and educational sessions and cocktail parties and lunches and dinners, and reams of backlist orders. It involves trying to find meeting times with PR folks and grabbing $8 Javits Center coffees with friends and colleagues in the teeny gaps of time left between all the other things. Oh, and then there’s the show floor, where thousands of fall titles will be on display. We need to spend some time there, too.
Usually, Josie and I divide and conquer at BEA, but she can’t make it this year, so I will be pulling double duty trying to schedule and absorb everything. BEA always inspires me, makes me want to read twice as fast, gets me revved up about books and bookselling no matter how challenging the climate in a rapidly changing industry. It’s an opportunity to see booksellers and author and illustrator pals from all over the country, and to meet new ones. It’s a chance to talk with knowledgeable, enthusiastic marketing folks at booths about the fall books they’re most excited about and plan author events at our store.
Things I’m excited about: the Association of Booksellers for Children hosts an annual silent auction of children’s book art. The generously donated pieces are glorious, and proceeds benefit the important work of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. This year, a rare Maurice Sendak piece is being auctioned off! You can preview all of the art here. The ABC, along with the Children’s Book Council, are sponsoring an author speed-dating session and author tea. The author breakfasts all sound fabulous, there’s a discussion between Kate DiCamillo and Cynthia Voigt I want to hear, and a “Picture Book Powerhouse” panel with Oliver Jeffers, Loren Long, John Bemelmans, Judy Schachner, and Jan Brett. Jon Scieszka, Brandon Mull, and Jack Gantos will be talking about writing for boys, and middle grade and YA editors will be presenting some of their favorite upcoming titles. My friend and esteemed bookselling colleague, Kenny Brechner, will be talking about the Common Core standards and how bookstores can work with schools to support them in thoughtful and fruitful ways. It’s a cornucopia, people!
As for the books themselves, for those of you who are planning to attend BEA, what ARCs are you excited to get your hands on? One of my staffers has already sent me her wish list. What’s on yours?
P.S. Back in 2008 when I was a wee guest blogger for ShelfTalker, I did a post from BEA about how swag-impaired I am. I bemoaned how some people can work the floor for two hours and reappear with rare loot, like jewel-encrusted totes or holographic ARCs or something, while I am the one limping around with blisters, developing a kyphotic hump from lugging around my bag of newly acquired catalogs that probably came in the mail back home. So this year I am determined to come home with one cool item. I am prepared to bribe for tips on likely booth numbers.