Book Expo America 2014: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Book Expo America 2014: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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I look forward every year to attending Book Expo America at the Javitz Center in NYC. I love books, reading and everything related to the publishing industry. Walking around a giant convention center filled with new books and authors is like a dream. Yet it, at times, is also a nightmare. Luckily, there was so much more good.

Book Expo America logo

The Good at BEA14


This was the first year that I attended any panels in the Special Events Hall. The first two were ticketed, the third was free. They were all fantastic.

1  Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel, This Is Where I Leave You, has been turned into a movie that is being released this September. Tropper, director Shawn Levy, and two of the movies’ stars, Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, discussed the movie, book and the adaptation. We saw clips from the film and it looks hilarious. I read the book and highly recommend it.

Book Expo America Author Breakfast Neil Patrick Harris

BEA Author Breakfast I Missed

2  Each day of BEA, an author’s breakfast is held. I’ve never attended any before because they begin at 8am and I am not a morning person. However, one of the panels this year looked too good to miss, so I bought a ticket and pulled myself out of bed in time to hear Alan Cumming, Martin Short, Lena Dunham and Colm Toibin speak about their new or upcoming books. I took videos of parts or each of their speeches and then realized when I got home that I didn’t have any sound on. However, I was so happy when I found that you can find the full speech for all 12 authors over the three days of breakfasts on YouTube (the 2nd day was for author’s of children’s books). Just search “Book Expo America 2014” and they will all show up with a few other BEA videos also.

Book expo america Lena Dunham

Because Martin Short was so funny, I have to include his talk here:

3. There was a free panel, that was part of BookCon (an expo on Saturday for the public), in which Veronica Roth, author of the highly successful Divergent series, and Alex London author of the Proxy
and Guardian YA books of a similar nature, spoke about their writing and books to an audience filled with many teen and tween girls. Roth has a new book coming out titled Four: A Divergent Collection, stories told from Four’s point of view.

Book Expo America books


The Books

Every year that I go to Book Expo, I find so many wonderful new books of all types. I look for and always find wonderful YA books, literary novels, pop culture books, technology books and more.  I am never let down.

BEA books

The Bad

Part of the BEA experience is autograph lines. It seems that if you are willing to wait in line, when you finally reach the author, you get a book for free and they autograph it for you. However, this leads to extremely long lines. Some are so long that those in line are sitting because they know they aren’t going to be moving for a long time.

I don’t participate in this, because I hate waiting on lines. So why does it bother me? Because the lines snake through the expo floor making it difficult for everyone else to walk through the showroom. Often I have to skip booths I wanted to see because people waiting on lines were in the way.

Book Expo America

The Ugly

BEA is only open to people in the book industry and press. During the last year or two, maybe longer, they sold tickets to the public for Saturday only (BEA runs from Thursday – Saturday). It seemed to work fine and I never heard any complaints. This year a decision was made to create BookCon, a separate expo for the public on Saturday. On paper it looked great. Many celebrity authors would be signing books and speaking on panels, top publishers would be there, and the panels all sounded very interesting. Since BEA tickets allowed you to attend BookCon also, I thought I would probably spend a good part of Saturday there.

BookCon might have worked had they limited the amount of tickets sold. However, It was complete and utter chaos. The autograph lines I mentioned above; in BookCon they made it impossible for anyone to move. Those fantastic panels; unless you were willing to wait on very long lines, forget it. The panels in smaller rooms left many closed out. The panels in large rooms had people waiting in line for an hour to get in.  BookCon seemed to made of lines. I think this experiment should not be repeated unless they severely limit the ticket count.

Book Expo America Comic

If you could get a ticket to Book Expo America, would you go?

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  1. I agree with you that BookCon was a nightmare! I spent most of Saturday on the other side of Javits which was closed to BookCon folks. So much calmer there! I hated the, “Free books, gimme, gimme” mentality that permeated the air at BookCon.

  2. I probably wouldn’t attend something like that. I have no patience with crowds and lines! Though some of the panels and opportunities sound wonderful.

  3. Robin (Masshole Mommy) :

    I think autograph lines are always bad at things like this. Bummer!

  4. I have actually always wanted to attend this and I live close enough to NYC to go even if just for the day. I never quite make it–But after hearing about the lines-uh-maybe I’m lucky I didn’t go again this year?

  5. Thanks for this inside view of an event I’ve wondered about.

  6. NYC Single Mom :


  7. Last year I loved attending this Saturday event. It was not crowded, I got to speak to authors and exhibitors and went to a few panels. No lines, no problems.

    This year? A nightmare. If they repeat next year what they did this year there is no way I will attend. Gas, tolls, parking, and walking in order to see you for a short amount of time, make one networking connection and get 2 books was (sorry, Jennifer) not worth it.

  8. Sorry to hear that Saturday was a nightmare. I had a great time on Thursday and Friday. I got lot of autographs and just skipped the really, really long lines. I saw so many promising books and went to a few panels (including the Tropper one). All in all, it was a great experience. Sounds like Saturday was a totally different story.

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