BEA 2016

The Best and Worst of BEA 2016

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It’s nearly impossible to summarize a Book Expo America experience in a single post, so I won’t even try. But I will try to share as much as I can in as little space possible. Just like any other event, there were some highs and lows for this year’s BEA, so let’s take a peek.

Best Pre-BEA Decision: Logan Square AirBnB

Kerry, Kristen, Rachel, and I opted to stray from the area immediately surrounding the conference and stay at an AirBnB in Logan Square. Though it was a bit of a trek, the neighborhood was packed with amazing restaurants, bars, bookstores, and coffee shops, which we did our best to check out. As an added bonus, the house we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous and packed with pretty impressive bookshelves.

Worst Pre-BEA Decision: Late Arrival

I made the mistake of thinking that there wouldn’t be too much happening on Wednesday, since the show floor was only open for a few hours, and booked a flight for the middle of the day. That flight ended up being delayed and made me miss a few events I really hoped to get to.

Best Meet-Up: Blogger Happy Hour

Thankfully, that late arrival didn’t stop me from joining a ton of other bloggers for a happy hour that night. It was amazing to see so many of the faces I adore all in one (real!) place.

Biggest Nope: Fighting Over Books

Stacks of ARCs were available after both the Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel and the Speed Dating for Book Groups and after both events there was some pretty gross book grabbing that had me rolling my eyes all over the place. Crawling over people or being incredibly rude for a free book is just not cute on anyone.

Most Improved: Food and Bathrooms

Chicago’s McCormick Place had a few major advantages over New York’s Javits, specifically a ton of bathrooms available near the show floor and much, much better food options.

Best Discovery: University Press Row

It took a little bit of hunting the show floor, but we managed to find a glorious row of university presses and all the delicious nonfiction they have headed our way. More on that tomorrow!

Worst Unnecessary Stop: The Wrong Pizza Place

Hey, did you know there are two Lou Malnati’s on the same street in Chicago? I didn’t either, until we took an Uber to the wrong one.

Best Unnecessary Stop: City Lit Books

Pretty much the last thing you need to do after three days of BEA is go book shopping, but we couldn’t resist popping into City Lit Books, which was just around the corner from our AirBnB. I added to my collection with a copy of Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders. It was a gorgeous, perfectly curated store and ended up being the best way to close out the trip.

  • A row of university presses?! Jackpot!!! I’d have been singing in the aisle at that! Can’t wait to hear more about it.

    • They were on the other end of the conference center from the big publishers, but it was definitely worth it to hunt them down.

  • Elena

    People who go to BEA always have so much fun, I can’t wait to attend too one day and meet you all. Glad to hear you had a great bookish time, you deserve it! Also, university press would make me freak out and spend all my savings :P

  • What an amazing and awesome collection! Yes, I’m a bit awestruck. One day, I’ll make it to BEA (maybe with thumb out and if they ever have BEA after school is out for summer). The ARC grab reminds me of Black Friday and why I don’t Black Friday shop. I know you must have been in heaven on University Press Row.

  • Ugh, the pushy book grabbers are the worst; I expect so much better from book people! Glad you had a great time despite a few mishaps!

  • It sounds like so much fun – aside from your travel woes and the book grabbing! Love the format of this post.

  • I can’t wait to hear about the Uni Press stuff!

  • That BnB has some seriously gorgeous books shelves and quite the collection. I want to stay there. I look forward to hearing about the books you found in University Press Row and agree McCormick was much better than Javits.

  • I love books from university presses (though I do wish they weren’t quite so expensive). I’m looking forward to finding out more about what they have coming our way.

    • I love them, too, but sometimes it can be SO overwhelming to browse through all the books they offer. Seeing everything in little booths was really helpful!

  • Words for Worms

    I must have really lucked out with my Speed Dating table because there was really no book grabbing. We were all “are you sure? Because I could probably get this on NetGalley later?” I keep hearing craziness about badly behaved speed daters. For shame.

    • I actually had a great experience at my table (thankfully!), but at the end there were people from *other* tables come and getting pushy before our presenters were even done!

  • I love how you organized this post. It sounds like you had a lot of fun.

  • So much goodness!! I loved seeing your pics while you were there; can’t wait to hear about ALL the books!

  • Amanda

    At least you still had Lou Malnati’s in the end? Sounds like you had quite the BEA!

  • Hahah, love the superlative approach! Still jealous I didn’t get to meet you and all the other great women I would’ve seen! <3

  • Like this little wrap up style! So glad you had a good time, and ick to grabby hands being nasty.

  • Greg Hill

    Haven’t been to a BEA but Chicago is pretty close so I was especially interested in this one, and it’s nice to see all the recaps. Glad you had a great time, it sounds so fun. I had to laugh at the book fighting part, I know it’s not funny but imagining people so desperate to grab an ARC- wow. I bet the Chicago pizza was good too. :)

  • This sounds like so much fun—can’t wait to get to BEA one of these years!

  • What a great way to share your BEA experience! It sounds like you got to experience BEA and Chicago too. :)

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  • You guys stayed in the best neighborhood for food and drinks! Also, so good meeting you finally. :)

  • Sometimes I think I want to try a BEA and then I remember I want to stay out of jail for taking it to maroons. I can hardly make it through our library book sale. Maybe I shall one day come and just hang out with my favorite peoples and avoid the antics. Though some of it sounds really fun. So, I have to ask, by “wrong” pizza place you just mean not the location you intended. Was it still good? Or was it that other people were eating at the other location? Lou must be doing ok for himself.

    • So, we were meeting up with other bloggers at the pizza place – took two Ubers because there were so many of them…and we went to the wrong one. The others had already ordered pizza (since it takes 40 min to cook), so we couldn’t just stay where we were. But it was delicious when we had it!

      • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

        That is very funny/not funny. Glad Lou served you up a worthwhile pie!

  • Nice post. I’m glad I missed the book grabbing part of BEA. Was that on Friday? You must tell me if the Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel and the Speed Dating for Book Groups were worthy things to go to. What are they like?? I missed those. thanks

    • They were events I loved last time I went and were still good this time around! I just wish the book part had been better organized so that people didn’t get so grabby.

  • University presses! The loveliest and best of presses! And blogger happy hour sounds magical. I do not mind missing the actual convention (except the university presses, I love those), but missing blogger happy hour sounds like a sad sad time.

  • Wow, I’m surprised the Adult Editors’ Buzz Panel was so grabby, the YA one was unusually organized. I bet an AirBnB was a great way to get a feel for the city.

    • Yeah, the adult one was NOT very well organized – a table of books in the front and back of the room and it was just a mess.

  • You made it to the right Lou’s in the end! All is forgiven and forgotten under layers of cheese.

    I thought Kristen and I might permanently injure ourselves from all the eye-rolling and frantic texting we were doing re: the bananas ARC-grabber behind us.

  • stormi34

    This was my first BEA and it was very overwhelming and I know I missed a lot of things…lol. It was also my first time in a big city so I was a little in awe. Fighting over free books or the selling of ARC’s that I have seen is just horrid and makes me sad. Overall, I had a great time and spent a lot of time with some blogger friends for the first time and that ranked higher than free books. :)

  • Jennine G.

    If I ever go, I will totally be picking your (and others’) brain. And I will be so overwhelmed, I might as well be ready to go with the flow.

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