No BEA for Me This Year

Alison Morris - May 21, 2008

I’m not going to BEA this year. Like many others on the East Coast, the owners of our two sister stores (Brookline Booksmith and Wellesley Booksmith) decided that it was just too expensive to justify sending staff all the way to L.A. for the event. The reader in me is sorry to have to miss out on two plane flights, as I could use the uninterrupted reading time, but the rest of me is happy not to have to endure two lengthy days of travel and the aftermath of much trade show fatigue. May has been booked solid with trips and events, so I’m telling myself that it’ll be a relief to be able to spend at least ONE weekend at home this month.

But, oh, it is TORTURE to have to turn down all the invitations I’m getting!! To think that I’m missing a cocktail party with Sherman Alexie and Trenton Lee Stewart! And dinner with the lovely Laurie Keller! Lunch with Mem Fox! The biggest loss to me, though, is having to miss out on all the fantastic ABC programming, in particular the newly revamped ABC dinner (now being called a "not a dinner") and (mostly) silent auction — my favorite and best chance to see an incredible assortment of original works of art by all my favorite illustrators. Even Gareth will have a piece there this year, but (sigh…) neither of us will have the pleasure of seeing it on display.

I have to say, too, that I’m sorry to miss out on visiting with the wonderful in-house people I only ever get to see at this one time of year. I know publicists often get a bum rap in the book business, as their positions (in large houses at least) tend to be the low-totem, rotate-them-in-and-out types. But I have gotten to know a LOT of truly fantastic, intelligent, incredibly hard-working publicists, and I’m just as sorry not to be crossing paths with some of them this year as I am sad to be missing out on the authors and illustrators they’ll have with them. And, oh, the conversations I have with editors at BEA!! It’s the one occasion in which I get to pick their brains with my "How did you make this work?" and "What’s so-and-so like?" questions, and I’ll miss having those conversations this year.

It’s going to be odd, actually, to have a spring/summer season with out that energetic little shot in the arm that comes from comparing notes with my fellow comrades at arms.

Think of me, all of you, when you’re learning the secret little scoop on this book or that book and this author’s past or that illustrator’s propensities. I will certainly be thinking of you (and tuning in for the occasional podcast)! I look forward to hearing your takes on this year’s best totebag and the year’s worst costumed character. And let me know if you hear of anyone tying the knot on the trade show floor, as I jokingly blogged about last year. I’d be especially sad to miss THAT spectacle!

8 thoughts on “No BEA for Me This Year

  1. Matthew Peterson

    Sorry you can’t make it. This will by my first year at the BookExpo America (booth 5741 in the Authors Row). I have no idea what to expect, and I have no idea how many copies of my YA book, Paraworld Zero, to bring (I’m giving them away). So I figure by the time it’s over, I’ll know how many books I should have brought and what things I should have done to prepare. Of course, it’ll be too late by that time. Oh, well!

  2. West Coaster

    While I completely understand the expense of flying to the West Coast for an event, what about those of us who have regularly flown to the East Coast for BEA and other events in the past? Is it too much to ask that for once the Mountain comes to Mohammad instead of the other way around? There are a lot of bookstores and industry professionals on the West Coast as well. While I admit that the publishing world is pretty well centered in New York, more and more events are taking place in other places, and people are going to need to get used to that idea.

  3. Robin D.

    West Coaster makes a legitimate point. Yet distance is not the only factor. Our store is barely two hours from NYC. Yet it’s both easier and CHEAPER for me to attend BEA in LA (or anywhere else) than in New York–fares, hotel, fatigue and all. Last year, the cost was so prohibitive (and the convention centre so obnoxious)that I resolved never again to attend a BEA in New York. It’s literally just not worth it.

  4. Big Ted

    I found the NY show and the prior DC show to be relatively ‘attendee’-friendly (as much as these shows can be, anyway.) Flying to & staying in LA is easier & cheaper than taking a car to NYC? Someone needs a better travel agent! While I’m happy for those on the WC, I can’t wait to have the show back here! (Hey, you WC guys aren’t shipping Hollywood out here any time soon, so don’t be so greedy!) Hope all those attending the show have a great time!

  5. Robin D

    Big Ted, your right-coast preconceptions are showing! I never said anything about driving (which would surely be nuts to do into NYC). The two hours refers to the best rail journey for me. If you happen to live in NYC, maybe you don’t realise how appalling the expense is for outsiders on normal budgets who still have to have at least one meal a day, somewhere to sleep at night, and don’t enjoy having to spend laborious hours getting to/from the evil slum that is the Javits Ctr. 🙂 The bottom line, once again: it’s not worth it. Bad value. A waste.

  6. Gale Laure, Author

    This was my first year at the BEA. I thought it was fastastic! I agree it is exhausting. I am sorry I missed meeting you. I gave out books and had a wonderful autograph session. After reading your article, I think you really, really wanted to go. You missed a lot. The people who came to my signing had “great”, “large” totebags filled with books and items. They were polite, very interested in my book and a joy to meet. Yes, the crowds were large, but nice. Maybe I’ll get to meet you next year.


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