Bookexpo America, Chicago 2016
Where do you begin when it comes to describing, putting into words perhaps one of the best weeks of one’s life. I am at a loss for where to start. I don’t want to bore you, overload you with information… So lets start with a
brief summery of events followed by some pictures from the week. I will post a separate haul post as well as a BEA tip post later on their own.
My BEA Week:
My BEA trip started on Monday. One of my college girlfriends now lives in Chicago and works for Rush University Medical Center near downtown. When I put out the plea for a place to crash during BEA she graciously opened her home and parking place for me. So not only did I get to attend this amazing conference I got to spend a week hanging out with a dear friend. No wonder I’m so tired. Bed around midnight up around six everyday, wow! Totally worth it though.
Thanks to my boss giving me the whole week off I went early and practiced my route to the conference on Tuesday before bumming around the city for the day. Despite the rain it was actually a fun day. This is the first time I had actually been somewhere on my own and it was interesting to go where I wanted, when I wanted and without having to compromise or negotiate the best course of action for the day. Around five I headed back out to the suburbs and had a delicious meal at my friend’s home as we grilled out and visited. Probably my earliest night to bed around 10 or 11 as I had an early morning the next day with the Blogger’s conference.
Wednesday was the first day of BEA and I left early, like on the train by 6:20 (I think) and arrived super early for registration to the conference. Oh well, better than late also meant that there were absolutely no lines when I walked up to the counter to get my pass. Nice! Headed downstairs to wait for the blogger’s breakfast and spent a few minutes checking my social media. Breakfast was nice muffins, danishes and bagels along with coffee or tea. It was nice to sit around the tables and chat with everyone. The keynote speaker was alright, but I have to agree with some of the other bloggers that I’ve read and it would have been nice if they found a speaker that was an actual book blogger. So most of her presentation went in one ear and out the other, but that’s okay. The rest of the blogger’s conference was totally worth the extra ticket in my opinion. The two break out sessions I attended had some interesting information and the table talk discussion in the afternoon even more so. I enjoyed the three I attended: connecting with publisher, negative reviews, and blogger burnout. Lunch was totally worth it for me as well as we had a nice group of ladies at my table and I won one of the $50 drawings (score!). I did skip the last session as by three I was itching to get up on the floor.
Funny little side story about Wednesday. In one of the break-out sessions my cell phone vibrated and I checked the screen to see my husband had called. Oh no! If he had actually taken the time to find his cell phone, turn it on and figured out how to call me something must be up or dead… Between sessions I headed out into the hall to call him back. Come to find out two library patrons had shown up at my house asking why the library wasn’t open! He gave them my boss’s phone number (who was supposed to be working and forgot), and all was good. He was a bit nervous, asking me that she did know I was going to be gone this week. I assured him he did the right thing and everything was fine, my trip was on the calendar and being my normal day to work she must have just forgotten. Made for a funny story to share all week though! You know you work for a small library when your patrons know where you live…
Okay back to the wrap-up. My Wednesday haul wasn’t that big, thankfully as I had not brought a bag to check yet and I headed back to the train and met up with my girlfriend at her work to attend a diversity award banquet that had an excellent spread of food (another score)! Met some of her great co-workers and spent the evening hanging out with them at a local bar and didn’t get to bed until late. Again, totally worth it!
The next day was my quiet day, no must haves or sessions to attend (actually all sessions were quickly wiped off my schedule as I spent so much time waiting in line). I spent the day wandering from book-drop to signing and checking out the booths. The day started a little later and I visited Disney first as they had an excellent breakfast of fancy croissants and coffee! I came back a few hours later and helped myself again. The second day many of the booths had food and I ended up nibbling my way around the center instead of stopping for an actual meal. That evening they also offered more food and drinks! I did abstain from that as I am not a big drinker and I didn’t feel like being wasteful. My second day haul was pretty impressive and I struggled to get everything on the train and to my friend’s house afterward. So many books and totes! Having driven to Chicago I did not censor myself very much. I did take books that didn’t necessarily interest me and every tote I could get my hand on. I attended as a blogger, but I am also a librarian and knew these books would find good homes and who doesn’t love free totes! (we also use them to give away Summer Reading Program prizes in) That evening my friend and I had some amazing Thai food and I was able to hit the sheets a tad earlier after emptying my haul to free up my bag for the next day.
The last day of BEA was my game-on day! My two must-have authors were Friday and both were dropping tickets at almost the same time in different areas. My plan was to swing by and score a Sylvia Day ticket and then rush over to get in line for Justin Cronin who would be signing around 10, Sylvia’s was at three that afternoon. I did it! I managed to get tickets to both of my must-have authors and I was going to meet them both!! I was so thrilled. Standing in line for Cronin I decided to turn on my data to check my push notices only to find my husband had been stalking me on social media. When was the last time I talked to him? Ops. I couldn’t remember so I placed a quick call to him and made sure things were alright at home. They were, but I could tell someone was missing me. I said good-bye and shortly afterwards the signing started and I chatted with people in line. This was a pretty popular signing so they didn’t allow pictures with the author, you could take one before or after, just not with him. That’s alright. I got to meet Justin Cronin! I tried to keep the fangirling internalized, but I was shaking afterwards. He was so sweet and I am thrilled I got to talk with him. Came up to him and he said “Of course Amy (main character’s name in the book is also Amy)” and I told him that I am also from Iowa (where the character is also from, go look it up already, The Passage Trilogy). He quickly started searching my name tag to find out where and I told him I lived near Iowa City (where parts of book two is located) and said how I recognized locations in the book! He was so cool about it all and even apologized for blowing up the dome on the capital building. Like I said he was super sweet. Later that morning, once I was coming down from my fangirl high I walked through the booth again and saw him sitting there with his handler. Just sitting there ! Of course I found something very interesting to look at and tried to work up the courage to talk to him. He started to leave, I followed and said ‘ Excuse me Mr. Cronin, but would take a selfie with me’. He said yes and the rest is history (picture below). That totally made my day and I will be gushing over it for some time.
My next signing was Sylvia Day at three so I bummed around the booths and tables picking up what ever caught my fancy. I did manage to stop for food on Friday and filled up my suit case fairly early. A lot of the booths started packing up and giving away early in the afternoon. Before I knew it I was in line to meet Ms. Day. This was probably the longest line I had been in and I was shocked to learn that I was surrounded by a ton of authors who were just as excited to meet Ms. Day as I was. The woman who I had been chatting with for several lines that day ended up leaving early as her friend scored her a signed book early and she needed to leave for the author’s tea (a $ ticketed session). She turned to me and gave me her ticket and that is how I ended up with two signed copies of One With You by Sylvia Day!!! I will be giving the second copy away on this blog so be sure to keep an eye out for more information.
After that signing and two more passes around the floor I decided it was time to go. I was a little sad that it had all passed so quickly, but also ready for it all to be over. I still had a Science Fiction Writers of America book signing that night where I got to meet John Scalzi!!! As well as two more days of fun with my college girlfriend. I wrestled my bag home and headed back downtown for the signing and another ride back to Oak Park for the night. I was beat. My friend had her own event that night and I was on my own to start organizing my books and packing everything away that I would no longer need.
The rest of the trip was just normal sight-seeing (and a trip to Ikea!). We had some great food, I got to treat my friend to our favorite Turkish restaurant and she gave me a tour of where she works. The next day we checked out the stores in her town and had lunch around the time of a very sad phone call from someone’s husband wondering if his wife was ever going to come home.
I want to thank my friend again for inviting me to stay with her. She not only saved me a ton of money, but make this trip even more memorable! I will definitely be back for another girl’s weekend where we can see more of the sights around Chicago and perhaps another trip to Ikea…
Last week was the trip of a lifetime for me. I do hope to attend another BEA, but probably not next year. New York intimidates me and I don’t think I feel comfortable going to that city on my own, maybe with my husband. It doesn’t matter really as next year’s conference is a bit later and my library’s Summer Reading Program will have started and I’ve been informed not to take vacation at that time. Quite frankly though I managed to bring home so much stuff that I think I’ll probably not be through all the books I snagged this year. So maybe in a couple of years. If you get the chance to attend the Bookexpo of America go. You will not regret it for one instant. This conference is a bookish person’s version of heaven and I loved every single minute of it!