Book Expo America 2016: Ivana’s Recap
Man, oh man! Book Expo America 2016 (BEA16) was quite an event! It was my first time attending, and it was an amazing experience! Now that I’m over the “ConCrud” I brought back with me (that lovely virus you seem to get after attending any large gathering of people or wearing yourself out on vacation), I thought I’d share my thoughts.
Nell and I decided to go to Book Expo America when One Book Two was only 5 months old. Since the event was “near” us in Chicago, and the first day boasted a Bloggers Conference, it just didn’t seem right not to attend. I have been to other conferences before, and had some idea what to expect from such a large gathering. Regardless, it was still amazing and overwhelming.
Day One was the Bloggers Conference. It was a great time to meet and chat with some other bloggers and hear about their concerns. Overall, from what I heard in the conference, One Book Two is doing pretty well for a year-old blog. I learned some very important things about the FTC rules for posting reviews and giveaways from the Geeky Blogger. And, I was introduced to the world of BookTube and Bookstagram, two mediums I hadn’t really considered (I’m old-school, I guess).
In one panel with publishing house marketing directors, they mentioned they liked to see a mix of posts on a blog—some reviews, some discussion posts, some memes like Waiting On Wednesday. That made me pause, since One Book Two primarily focuses on reviews. We have a few types of posts that aren’t reviews, such as this year’s Cover Artist series of interviews and the occasional Reviewer’s Roundtable; but, we really did create this site to focus on reviews. I’m still pondering that tidbit to see if it warrants any change.
After the Bloggers Conference, we hit the Exhibit Hall. This is the Mecca of Books, folks! Like the biggest book store you’ve ever seen. I walked through rows and rows of publisher stalls with fantastic displays and even more fantastic books. It felt like publishers were THROWING galleys at us (they weren’t, but we were riding the high, ya know?). The lure of the Exhibit Hall consumed us for the next two days, drowning out even the great panels and talks I had every intention of attending.
BEA16 seemed to be dominated by Children’s and YA books. I did hear recently that YA, kid’s books, and adult coloring books made up the majority of the print book market this last year, so I guess the focus makes sense. At first, I was sad since I, personally, do not read much YA. However, it made for a low-pressure conference. I didn’t feel anxious about which galleys I got and which I didn’t as I might have if there were more adult books available.
And, as you can imagine, I MIGHT have brought home a few YA books that I will actually read. I’m particularly interested in a book called Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs, published by Albert Whitman & Company. Future Shock is a YA Sci-Fi available now, with the sequel being published in September. Ms. Briggs signed my book with the words, “Fight the future,” a slogan I recognize from X-files, but which also applies to her series.
Though I didn’t pick it up at BEA, I was intrigued by another YA book I’ll try for on NetGalley. It’s called Weregirl by C.D. Bell. This book is being published by the same company that publishes Choose Your Own Adventure books, Chooseco. Percy and I HAD to stop by the Chooseco booth to say Hi and gush about how much Choose Your Own Adventure books were part of our childhood. I LOVED those things and am so excited to see they are still being published! During our gush-fest, the marketer introduced us to Weregirl, which I believe they said is their first non-CYOA book. I admit I was intrigued by the beautifully simplistic cover and the marketer’s excitement for the book.
I did pick up a galley of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalso, published by Little, Brown and Company. Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first book in a new imprint by James Patterson, called “Jimmy Patterson,” intended for kids and teens. The galley contains a letter by Patterson describing his new imprint and how much he loves Maniscalso’s book. I’m anxious to read it, but it also gave Percy and I a chuckle. Being fans of TV’s Castle, seeing Patterson’s name on yet another book made us think about the joke Rick Castle made in one episode:
Martha Rodgers: I almost forgot to tell you – James Patterson called, he’s going to be a little late for the poker game tomorrow.
Richard Castle: He probably wants to use the time to write another book.
Speaking of Castle, Percy ran into Michael Connelly in the rows between booths before one of his book signings. Being the goof that he is, Percy said to him, “Loved you in Castle” (Connelly, Patterson, and several other mystery writers appeared as Castle’s poker buddies in the show). Percy and Michael then had a short conversation about the future state of the Castle television show. You just never know who you’ll find to geek out with at places like this. 🙂
Back to books. YA books weren’t the only ones I brought home. I did get a couple of great coloring books, too. Newbourne Media has a great set of coloring books whose design I totally love. I brought home the Color With Music book called Owls of the Night. Not only does this coloring book come with a CD of relaxing music, the pages are square and gummed at the top like a pad of paper. Also, there is a flap attached to the cover that you can put under each picture as you color it, kind of like a checkbook (if you don’t know, ask your parents). It really is an ingeniously convenient design.
Blue Star Coloring had a beautiful booth and display that drew me in immediately. I’m not sure if Blue Star was the first adult coloring book company, but they published the first books I remember seeing. The display indicates they are coming out with some premium books—foil embellished covers, thicker paper, perforated pages.
They also had a new line of books on display called the Master Collection. These are beautifully illustrated coloring books that break out of the norm of intensely patterned and geometric coloring. The book I was able to come home with, called Quest, is full of gorgeous fantasy art that wordlessly tells the story of a faun who goes searching for her lost lover. It’s absolutely stunning; I’m hoping my less-than-amateur coloring skills can do it some justice. This is a far cry from the new box of 64 Crayolas and the three Tiny Toons coloring books I took to college for stress relief!
I have to tell you the story of Kiersten at Blue Star Coloring. As sometimes happens at these events, a booth attendant at Blue Star took pity on me and allowed me to acquire a copy of Quest sooner than I should have. Later that day, I was chilling in the hall with Nell (resting our tired feet!) while Percy wandered the exhibit hall with my book bag. Quest happened to be peeking out of the bag. Kiersten, another booth attendant at Blue Star, noticed my book and politely tried to take it back, assuming it had been mistaken for a galley when it was really a display copy.
Being the gallant husband that he is (in addition to being a goof), Percy told Kiersten he wasn’t allowed to return to me with less in the bag than it had originally held (but more was okay). So he brought Kiersen out into the hall to meet me and verify I had acquired the book, if not strictly by the rules, at least not through theft. You’re a good employee, Kiersten. I hope they appreciate you. 🙂
Both Newbourne Media and Blue Star asked if I reviewed coloring books. To be honest, I never thought about reviewing a coloring book until then. What do you say? There were pictures with spaces in which I could color. But I imagine it’s like reviewing any other product; so, I’ll be giving it a try in the near future.
I did pick up some adult galleys for myself. I came home with a copy of Victoria the Queen, The Other Einstein, All the Little Liars, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast (a romance!) and Ghost Talkers, among others. I’m excited for them all, but probably most excited for Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Embarrassingly, I didn’t recognize Mary Robinette Kowal’s name from her Hugo-award winning writing. I recognized her as the narrator for the October Daye audiobooks. I also recognized the Chris McGrath cover art, but again, didn’t attribute the book to Kowal. And, because you ramble stupidly when you’re in front of people you’d rather impress, I said as much as I was getting the book autographed. However, Ms. Kowal was so nice that she had me close my eyes as she did the Luideag’s voice for me. She’s so cool. <geekgirl grin>
Percy and I did some standing in line to get autographs, both for ourselves and others. We brought home autographed books and galleys for Annie, Kat, and Fiona. Percy got to meet Berkeley Breathed, author and artist of Bloom County, his favorite comic strip. For good measure, Percy also talked to Berkeley’s wife to thank her for keeping the new Facebook page clean and positive. He also got to chat with the folks at the Paizo booth and geek out over Pathfinder and role playing. The longest line either of us stood in was one for Sabaa Tahir, to get an autographed copy of A Torch Against the Night for Kat. That was a 2-hour line. That’s when I decided BEA was for young people, since my feet and back were complaining that the next time I wanted to take them away from my sedentary office job to something like this, I better start training ahead of time!
Nell, Percy, and I all overestimated our energy levels, and so we ended up going home on Saturday instead of going to BookCon. Part of me wondered what we missed on Saturday, and if we missed any other good galleys during the week. The other part was exhausted, overwhelmed, and ready to go home. Combined, we brought home around 110 books to add to our list of to-be-reviewed books we’ve been sent and bought ourselves; there is no way we needed any more.
I may never go to another BEA again, choosing instead to attend author events and genre-specific cons. But it was definitely an experience not to be missed. I’m so glad we were able to attend.