Posted in BEA on May 22, 2016


I attended my first BookExpo America event this year since it was held in Chicago.  Not because I live here, but because it is a “little” less expensive to stay in Chicago than NY.  It didn’t hurt that I got a round trip ticket from DFW to O’Hare for $70.  Yes you read that right, $70.  Half of the ticket cost was taxes and fees!

Anyway, I flew in on Tuesday (the day before) because I didn’t want to miss anything should my flight be delayed or something crazy like that.  I was meeting up with Mary from Bookhounds since we had met probably a decade ago on a (now defunct) book swap site called Frugal Reader.  We had discussed doing this a year or two ago and despite only working part time I felt like I should take the plunge and do it.  I may never attend another BEA, but you just never know.

So I flew in and decided to be adventurous and take the train from the airport to downtown Chicago.  Plus it was only $5.  I was doing fine until I got off of the train and was making my way up to street level and couldn’t figure out which way to go to my hotel.  Google maps wasn’t very helpful and neither was the lady at the information desk IN THE COURTHOUSE!  Ummm, really you don’t know where anything is?  Can’t you look it up?  Oh well, I was on an adventure so I walked for who knows how long and far before I finally got it figured out.  I still don’t know what the Chicago Ped Way is (or where it is).

Wednesday we got up and headed over to the convention center where BEA was being held.  This place is HUGE!  But we checked in and grabbed a daily magazine to see what would be where and when.  We met and talked to many in line and wandered around and ended up off in the corner where there was another entrance that very few people seemed to know about.  Not even by Friday had the masses discovered this entrance.  I’m not complaining, less crowds for us to navigate.

All around the check in and in the building were signs for the different authors and books.  Here are a couple of them:

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And here was the view from the entrance where we waited to be admitted (we had to wait until 1pm!).  Oh the entrance was by this Showcase (probably for a lot of indie authors or self-published, but very cool to check out more books!)

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Once we were admitted inside we went up and down all of the aisles.  This took ALL afternoon!  But we were getting our bearings on who was where and many times we doubled back because a publisher was giving away a book later that afternoon.  It was amazing to see all of these publishers – many you have heard of, some maybe not yet but you will.

I was being a bit silly but had my picture taken with a North Pole Ninja (book out in mid October).


We left about 5 or so and went back to our hotel to rest a bit since we were meeting another friend from Frugal Reader for dinner (and a couple of her friends).  We went to a Russian Tea Room and the dinner was delicious!


After dinner, we went back to our hotel to plan our day and what booths we wanted to hit and at what time.  Luckily a lot of booths had when they were doing giveaways and signings so we could plan accordingly.  Of course not everything was disclosed.  So it was helpful to pick up the daily “newspaper” to see who was doing what and when.  I was able to pick up a cookbook that I hadn’t known was going to be available (more about that in the coming weeks as I test out the recipes).  Mary and I split up but would connect back up at various times to see what each other had scored in the way of books.  I picked up a new series by Ridley Pearson and talked to him for a few minutes.  For some reason he seems to think I have an accent!

I should mention that one of the best features of BEA was the shipping area.  Now I’m sure you are thinking…what?!  Why would THAT be your favorite area?  Well it is because you can set up a box to be mailed to you and all through out the day I would do dump off a load of books so I didn’t have to carry them around.  Trust me, those books get very heavy after awhile.  Luckily most of the publishers were giving out totes so we had something to put it all in until we could drop off at the shipping area.  To give you an idea of how many books I brought home, I shipped 45 POUNDS of books!  And those were all that I had, I had some in my suitcase and some in my carry on bag.

I did get a few photos with authors (some I will save for later posts) but I did get one of Maria Semple signing a picture from an upcoming book.  I was hoping for the book but no such luck.  Maybe they will send later?


Anyway, Thursday was busy busy busy but we had a party to attend that evening hosted by Big Honcho Media.  We stopped for some dinner on the way there since the party didn’t start until 9pm.  While I never think of myself as old….I kept wondering about all the others that were there and if they were old enough to drink!  Everyone looked so young.  But it didn’t matter, we chatted with a few other book bloggers and librarians, enjoyed a glass or two of wine and some yummy desserts.  We decided we had partied enough for that night so grabbed a hoodie and headed back to the hotel.

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I loved how they held down the balloons with books.  What a great idea!

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Friday was our last day and Mary already knew she was going to be staking out Penguin Books for most of the day.  I only had a few things I wanted to do for sure and wandered around most of the time, chatting with publishers, publicists, authors….pretty much anyone and everyone.  I did see Kristi Yamaguchi signing posters of her new book.

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Friday afternoon I did attend a round table geared towards book clubs and librarians touting upcoming books for this fall and next spring.  We were lucky enough to be able to take some home with us that caught our eye after hearing about them.  Funny thing is that I had already picked up several earlier.  But it just reinforced that the book was going to be good.


We wrapped up the day by packing our boxes and getting those shipped back home.  Yes, my box was 45 lbs and not all the books were for me.  I am stocking my great-niece’s library and you will be seeing some reviews of those books over the next few weeks.

All in all, BEA was a blast and I wouldn’t mind going again.  It will probably be a few years so I can save up some money, but it was well worth it just for the exposure.

Oh and here are some of the books that I brought home that are for me!  Many are signed too.  I have the stack of children’s book and even coloring books that I picked up for another friend that is big into coloring.

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