Feature Friday: The BEA Experience

706086_10151211171174961_1706269595_oby Tqwana Brown

Do your feet hurt? Shoulders ache? Back sore? Then you, like me, are suffering from the BEA Experience. For four days last week, the Javits Center turned into a theme park for the publishing industry. Chances are your body is still recovering from walking the exhibition floor, lugging around your free totes full of new books. For three of those days, I hobbled around on a sprained ankle, braving the New York city heat and the long trek from the subway to the Javits Center’s doors,  greedily gathering as many ARCs and galleys as I could carry. Though I’ve made a promise to myself that next year I’ll be more selective, I doubt it’ll actually happen. I don’t know my exact tally of new books, but I averaged around 25 a day. I’ll leave the math up to you.

marchbookone_softcover_lgI anxiously waited in line for autographs and photo ops from big names like Jim Carrey, Paula Deen (she loved my hair!), Brenda Jackson, Lauren Weisberger, and Sylvia Day. I woke up before sunrise – on a Saturday – to enjoy breakfast with Congressman John Lewis, Hardball’s Chris Matthews, and authors Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), all such passionate and hilarious speakers.  Congressman Lewis earned a standing ovation from the crowd for his empowered speech on civil rights and the hope that his new graphic novel March will inspire youth to get into “good trouble” like he, Rosa Parks, and MLK during the 60s.

And yes, all of their upcoming releases have been added to my to-read list.

BEAOne of the great aspects of BEA is striking up conversations with other industry professionals and book lovers – getting their insight on the future of editing, distribution, and agencies.

Next year’s agenda will definitely include attending more panel discussions (I’ll be spending the next few days catching up on what I missed on BEA Live).

Between free glasses of champagne and wine, slices of cake,  a tiny light up TARDIS, and catching a glimpse of Arthur Levine walking the aisles, my first BookExpo was one of the greatest experiences of my young publishing career.  Enjoy the slideshow of my BEA, and feel free to share a link to your BEA photo albums in the comments section.

And if anyone has extra bookshelves lying around, I’m in need of a few.

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To read more on BookExpo America 2013, click here for Publishers Weekly’s BEA wrap-up. Remember you can catch panels and author interviews you missed on BEA Live.

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