Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BEA Review

As of 11pm today, I got home from my very first BEA convention in NYC. Sadly I am too much of a poor high school student to manage to go more than one day, particularly when that one day involved skipping school, so I sadly won't be able to manage the rest of the week. But that's okay, because if there's one thing I've learned in my con experience, it's that even one day can leave you completely exhausted. I don't think I could handle a second.
I went in with a group consisting of Zee from Lost Train Of Thoughts and a mutual friend, Candyss. Despite waking up at 4am to catch trains and rides and arriving a full HOUR before the start of the con, we arrived at the con too late to get our hands on any of the special autograph tickets. Needless to say, I'd like to suggest to all the people who work on BEA that they put together a system that's a little more fair than 'arrive 2 hours early or no tickets for you!' But we got over it, and headed out, picking up our badges and checking luggage. We arrived too early to start anything, so we headed out to grab breakfast, arriving back at the con 10 minutes after what we later heard was pure chaos to get in.
My first sight of BEA was stunning. People, books, chaos, it was beautiful. The group and I spent the first half an hour looking around and getting a lay of the place, at least until we stumbled upon the gorgeousness that was Penguin, where ARCs and other books were laid out in abundance in every corner. Our morning was looking up, particularly after picking up gorgeous tote bags from DK to carry some books in.
After the first few minutes, the day gets a little fuzzy. Most of BEA was spent wandering, waiting in lines, and marvelling. But there were plenty of interesting key points that I doubt I'll forget anytime soon.
Harlequin had a series of author hours, for instance, and I went to three of them. The first hour was paranormal, and while the line was long, it was worth it because the end of the line took you by each of the authors signing their books instead of individuals. Thus we joined the forming line for the young adult line early, and spent 30 minutes waiting, then another 10 because of a delay, only for someone to finally tell those of us waiting that this hour was going to be individual lines instead. Needless to say, the place erupted into chaos with nobody being entirely sure where each line lead and people completely ignoring the fact that there had been people already waiting in line, and jumping the lines entirely. I was far from the only person displeased with the situation, if the mood of the crowd and muttering was anything to go by. However, I was pleased to get a copy of the two books I wanted, even if I did miss out on spellbound. The third hour was back to one line for all authors, thank merlin.
The girls and I spent a few hours line hoping in the autograph area, jumping into the short lines and getting multitudes instead of picking a long line and waiting. We probably missed out on a few good things, but we found some really interesting authors we wouldn't have otherwise noticed, so it was pretty epic.
Between the bags, books, and random freebies, I must have brought home over 900$ worth of awesomeness, the majority of which you can expect reviews on over the next few months. It was an interesting attempt to get the bags back to my bus, needless to say. Overall, BEA was a fun and really interesting event, and I can't wait for next year.

Key Points of BEA:
The Good
  • Free arcs and books everywhere!
  • Incredibly friendly authors and fellow bloggers that I managed to speak to in the lines.
  • Getting to meet favorite authors and learn about ones that might be just as good
  • Friendly, helpful staff
  • Multitude of food and drink options everywhere
  • A wide range of different genres, from the dictionary to warhammer books.

The Bad
  • A horrible lack of manners and abundance of rudeness in the crowds, to the point that while I was attempting to get through a crowd and apologizing, a woman shoved into me to force her own way through instead of waiting.
  • Incredibly crowded walkways, particularly near places such as Penguin, which had popular booth signings
  • Unorganized signing systems, such as changing systems midsignings and giving out numbered tickets without organizing by number
  • Rushed authors, to the point that at least one didn't have time to talk to fans, let alone personalize signatures
  • Overexpensive food everywhere. 4$ for an ice cream bar, anyone?
  • Needing to arrive needlessly early to get tickets
  • Mixed signals. The staff discouraged starting to stand in line for booths too early, but then gave out tickets to people who did.
  • Bring a rolling suitcase, particularly if you need to walk anywhere with your load of books
  • Make and bring business cards, no matter if you're a blogger or salesman.
  • Network. The lines are long, make conversation.
  • Don't be afraid to jump in the lines that nobody else is in. Sometimes those books end up being really good.
  • Arrive early if you want to get ticketed events.
  • Bring a sturdy, comfortable bag you can carry with weight in it.
  • Check your bags. It's pretty cheap, and it saves a lot of time and effort, particularly after those bags start to weight 30-40 lbs from books.
  • Have fun. You're there because you like books, or you should be. Mellow out, go with the flow, and let yourself enjoy everything, even if you don't get everything you want.

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