The internet is beginning to buzz again. Do you feel it? Do you feel the growing excitement as planes, trains, and buses are booked, hotels fill up and passes are bought?
It’s because it’s getting close to that time of the year again, for one of the largest publishing conferences around:
Yes, the Book Expo America is coming up fast and as can be expected, people are getting excited, whether it’s the first time or their tenth time going.
This time last year, I didn’t even have a book blog but I had heard of BEA. It sounded wonderful, and it didn’t take long before I decided to venture there myself. I had a great time, to be sure and walked away with a ton of books and a ton of memories. Does that mean I am planning on going again this year?
As of now: No.
I am of course not so risky as to say ‘definitely not’ because my mind can always be changed, but here are the reasons I am not going to BEA this year.
- Let’s be real upfront. Money. It costs a lot to go to BEA and between (potentially, hopefully) going to graduate school in the fall, (potentially, hopefully) getting a dog, and (potentially, hopefully) saving more, I simply cannot swing it. The bus is super cheap ($50 round trip!) but let me tell you: waiting for hours in the super hot sun for a very late bus after walking around the expo for hours was not fun. The hotel, while it can be split with people, still costs significant money. The pass is definitely reasonable for what is included, but it’s still over $100. And then food is costlier in NYC…though I have considered packing sandwiches…
- I went by myself last year. It was still fun, but there is definitely something lacking when you go by yourself. As a shy person in those types of situations, not having a battle buddy was not great. While I undoubtedly could find someone to go with this year, I’m still not positive if I could reap the social and networking benefits that everyone else seems to expound upon. I do not have contacts in the industry to catch up with. I am not invited to cool parties. While I have certainly met more bloggers out there, I’m not sure I would have the guts to plan something to meet you and if that would completely justify an entire trip to do so. BEA is certainly not meant to be purely about the advanced reading copies and author appearances. There should be a certain amount of networking and social interactions there as well. And I’m just not sure I’m there yet.
- Books. Okay, I know this is the one where everyone is going to have one of two reactions: either, ‘wtf! That’s the whole reason to go!’ OR ‘oh, don’t you sound all privileged?’ But hear me out. I will admit that I picked up about 15 more books than I should have last year. It’s just very hard to pass up on picking up a book that is so clearly marketed to grab me in and make me want to read it. I had all these ideas that I would read every single book I took (and shipped) home last year. But here’s the thing: I am lucky if I read 50 books a year. I took home over 30 books. That’s absurd. I’m still reading ARCs from last year’s BEA. I feel so incredibly guilty about it. It’s basically crippled me from reading anything ‘just because’. “Oh look at the new book that just came out! That looks like so much fun! But, I have 5 more ARCs to read and well, I just can’t get to that new one yet…” That’s no fun. And I while this will easily be a reason to convince myself to go again (I have discovered so many cool books and authors by going to BEA that I might have otherwise missed out on like Foreign Gods Inc, Vicious, One Summer: America 1927, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown) I know that I can discover new titles other ways and that a ‘free’ book shouldn’t be a reason to go at all.
I know this is likely the opposite kind of post than what a lot of bloggers are saying right now. And like I said, who knows, maybe I overcome these reasons and go anyways. But I wanted to be vocal about my logic in the hopes that perhaps I can prevent someone else from getting too wrapped up in the whirlwind of excitement and make a cooler, logical decision about going to such an event.