Book Expo America, 2014

P1030067I’ve been on vacation for a couple of weeks (Paris, London, Bath) because my brother just got married in Paris, and boy do I have a lot of bookish things to talk about the trip, but since there are 1600 pictures I need to wade through to write that post up, I’m going to talk about BEA first.

What BEA is and my experience this year: I’ve talked about Book Expo America (BEA) here in the past, but for those not in the know, it’s a trade show that focuses on books. Since 2009 there has been a Book Bloggers Conference (now called the BEA Blogger’s Conference) affiliated with BEA. If you have a BEA Bloggers badge, you can go to BEA. BEA has been limited to industry professionals, (and in the past few years, to book bloggers as well), but last year they opened up one day to the public with a “Power Readers” day. This year Power Readers got rebranded into BookCon, but more on that later.

Although I signed up for the BEA Blogger’s Conference, I ended up not going. It was on Wednesday and didn’t feel comfortable taking time off mid-week when I’d just taken time off, and I haven’t exactly have had much time to blog either. This is also why I didn’t RSVP to any invitations to publishing parties. In the end, I just went to BEA on Friday and Saturday, and I made up for my time off on Friday by working on Sunday.

I think this year was the year that I was the most laid back about BEA – I didn’t have the same “I can’t sleep” feeling the night before (although jetlag may have had something to do with it), and I only looked at what books would be available the night before. What ended up happening was that my list of books to get was 2 to 4 books per day, so I had a lot of free time to wonder around and just stand in lines for books that sounded interesting and to try to get a few books for other people. The downside of this is that not having a lot of books I specifically wanted made me have more time to wander and more time to get more books (“Well, I have nothing else to do, may as well go to that galley drop…”, “OK, I guess will take that book you are offering me”, “Excuse me, what are you in line for?”)… this was a terrible strategy for keeping books out of my house.

However, because I only went 2 days, I had a lot more energy on the floor this year than previous years, which includes that energy I need to be sociable. I’m practically a mute elsewhere, but I feel safe striking up a conversation at BEA. I met Asma of A Reading Kobocha waiting for a Holly Black signing, Emily of Oktopus Ink while in line for Alex London, Stephanie of Views from the Tesseract in a line for John Scalzi, and Celia of Dragons Den Publishing while waiting for a couple of RWA signings. I also got to see a few old faces – Kate and Alyssa and Mr. Raging Bibliohol, and fellow YAckers Nicole and Sandy. And that’s not including everyone I randomly talked to or shared a cab with or sat next to on the shuttle back to Grand Central. I also got to have dinner with YAcker Heidi because real life overlapped with online life and we have a friend in common who lives in Manhattan (related: we have a system to send books to each other via people we know, aka our book mules).

When I was in London, I felt very American because I could hear myself whenever I said, “It was awesome“, but “awesome” is what I think about talking to book people at BEA. The only downside of enjoying their company is missing their familiar faces when they aren’t there. There were a lot of bloggers that didn’t come to this years BEA that I missed.

Anyway, picture time.

Signings:

Lev Grossman signing The Magician's Land

Lev Grossman signing The Magician’s Land

Holly Black signing The Darkest Part of the ForestHolly Black signing The Darkest Part of the Forest

Seen on the floor:

Crap taxidermy

Crap Taxidermy promo

The Penguin Book Truck

The Penguin Book Truck

Lego Star Wars

Lego Star Wars figures for Star Wars Reads Day III (@ DK Publishing)

Let's Get Lost car

Let’s Get Lost car (@Harlequin)

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Out of Print booth

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Fahrenheit 451 matches (@ Out of Print)

BEA versus BookCon:There seems to be some murmurings about BookCon and how it’s changing BEA online. I like the concept of the public getting to experience BEA, but I did find the crowds really crazy / anxiety inducing. I would go to the BookCon side of the floor only when I had to, and go back to the BEA side when I needed to breathe. Here’s some comparison pictures. I guess that’s all I have to say about it. BEA is on the left, BookCon is on the right.

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The Haul: Finally, these are the books I ended up with.
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Book Expo America Recap, 2013

This past Thursday and Friday I was at the annual Book Expo America held at the Javits Center in New York City. I also attended the BEA Bloggers Conference (formerly the Book Bloggers Conference) on Wednesday. Here’s my (supah long) report of these things.

BEA BLOGGERS CONFERENCE:

bea bloggers icon

BEA Bloggers is a book blogger convention affiliated with BEA. You may or may not recall, but last year I had a horrible time dealing with registration for the BEA Bloggers Con, and after that I was rather disappointed in the conference itself. That was the year the convention was bought by Reed and it felt like the new management didn’t really understand book bloggers and it led to there being a ridiculous amount of promotion to a captive audience amongst other blunders. This was not really what I’d paid money to have to deal with, and from the posts online there were a lot of book bloggers that shared my disappointment. Thankfully Reed Exhibitions seemed to be listening, sent out surveys to book bloggers, and set up a conference advisory board to make this year’s conference better. Even with this, I dragged my feet when it came to registering again this year. I only live a train ride away and I can afford to go (I know I am very lucky to be in my situation), but last year honestly drained me. On top of that I’ve been neglecting book blogging because of my full-time job. I finally decided to go a week before the conference itself, but a lot of bloggers who went last year told me they were skipping the BEA Blogger Con if they were coming to BEA at all.

So with that optimistic preamble, how was it?

I think it was a lot better than last year. This time I had minimal problems registering (I had the page open too long and it didn’t register me when I hit submit, so I had to redo it all. It also hiccuped and sent me back to the main BEA registration page, not back to the BEA Blogger Con registration page), I felt like the con was more about book blogging than it was about promoting things to book bloggers than it was last year, and I also felt like this year I learned something from a couple of the panels that I attended. On top of that there seemed to be more effort to represent the different genres of bloggers in the panels with a YA and adult blog track, genre fiction like Romance and SFF were better represented, there were more book bloggers on panels about book blogging, and it felt like the way the sessions were timed at 45 minutes this year allowed for more sessions and decent breaks between them.

On the other hand, there is still room for improvement. I’m not convinced the keynote speakers fully understood book bloggers (maybe we should do away with the keynote speeches – I’d personally be OK with having the time to talk to people over breakfast/drinks instead), I had some trouble deciding what sessions to attend because all I had was a title and no description, and there were still a few comments by some non-book-blogger speakers that made me pause. Most notable for me were remarks about “being nice”. I’m going to say I think their hearts may have been in the right place but I was wincing internally. Between the opening keynote speaker’s comments on negative reviews and a couple of other offhand comments in other sessions (from mostly non-book blogger panelists) telling bloggers not to post on controversial topics for page views and not to fight with authors on social media, I left the con wondering a little bit about how book bloggers are seen by those who are in the publishing industry. In my mind the comments suggest a disconnect from the book blogger’s perspective. There could be some validity to the speakers’ comments, but reviewers have been targeted for critical reviews that were not attacks on an author, posting on controversial topics is not necessarily a bid for attention, and as for fights over social media–there are always two sides to every story. Maybe I’m feeling defensive of being a book blogger and I’m taking some comments and seeing a pattern where there isn’t one, but this was food for thought for me after BEA. Anyway, putting that aside, I really did feel a lot better about the con compared to last year – but last year set a pretty low bar. If I don’t go next year it would be more about having gotten what I can out of this con rather than anything else. That said, there are bloggers who were more disappointed than I was.

The opening and closing keynotes and the Ethics Panel Luncheon were events that was shared universally by all attendees, but in the morning and afternoon there were sessions where there was a choice between two options. In the morning there was a YA focused track and a non-YA focused track (which they called “adult”) to choose from, .and in the afternoon the sessions were more about general blogging topics.

These were the sessions I attended:

  • Opening Keynote (Will Schwalbe)
  • Adult Editor Insight Panel (other choice: Young Adult Editor Insight Panel)
  • Adult Book Blogging Pros: Successes, Struggles and Insider Secrets (other choice: Young Adult Book Blogging Pros)
  • Ethics Forum Luncheon
  • Blogging Platforms (other choice: Taking Your Online Presence Offline)
  • Extending the Reach of Your Blog Online (other choice: Book Blogging and the “Big” Niches)

(I skipped the Closing Keynote with Randi Zuckerberg)

Opening Keynote: I saw that there was a camera set up but I am unable to find the video online, but I found a nice recap from a fellow blogger here that I thought hit the highlights. The general feeling I came away with was that Schwalbe had a genuine enthusiasm for books and for how reading connects people. He had some poignant things to say about the book club for two he had with his mother after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he talked about the different definitions of success in publishing with a story about connecting to one reader at a book signing, but he also said a couple of things that I don’t think he realized were a bit touchy for his audience. This included talking about the affect that “negative reviews” have on authors with advice such as “keep in mind the human beings behind these books”. I wish I could find the video so I could just link to it and ask people to watch and decide how they feel about what he said. Overall it was a nice speech and I thought Schwalbe’s earnestness very likable, but his comments about negative reviews have me mulling days later. OK, let’s move on.

Adult Editor Insight Panel: This turned out to be a buzz panel where each of the editors discussed books they were particularly excited about this year. Joshua Kendall of Mulholland Books talked about two books: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (who won the Arther C. Clarke award for her Zoo City), about a time traveling serial killer (“imagine Silence of the Lambs written by Margaret Atwood”), and S, a book by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst which he says reorients your experience as a reader (he compares it to House of Leaves) and is a book about storytelling. There will be 20 to 22 pieces of ephemera related to S and the first one is a postcard from Brazil (see picture below). Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor Books discussed Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great, which is a collection of selected tor.com essays by Walton in which she rereads books and discusses them; Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, a collection of science fiction stories; and The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White, a supernatural procedural centered around a society with special powers and a goal to make the world a little bit better a little bit at a time. Mary-Theresa Hussey talked about The Returned by Jason Mott, which is about people who have died returning to their families, and Sarah Beth Durst’s first adult trilogy which begins with The Lost, and is about a small town in the desert where missing things go – this includes the heroine, Lauren. Out of all the books discussed, I was most interested in Sarah Beth Durst’s and Jo Walton’s, so they’re going on my “what to watch for” list.

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Adult Book Blogging Pros: Jim Hines was the moderator here, with bloggers Mandi Schreiner from Smexy Books, Rebecca Joines Schinsky of Bookriot, and Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books making up the panel. I was excited by this one because the panel was full of actual bloggers, and two of the blogs were Romance, which I felt was a genre that is hugely popular and strangely underrepresented at this con in previous years. This was a fun session and I thought the panelists had some good advice, notably from Sarah Wendell: “your opinion belongs to you, no one should tell you it’s not valid”.  Also Jim Hines specifically joked about being in front of book bloggers and holding back from pitching his books. I thought this showed awareness for staying on topic and why the audience was there that was refreshing. Another thing I thought was a good takeaway was their discussion on social media and how it didn’t always have to be about books – that just linking to your posts on twitter isn’t enough. They recommended being multidimensional and not being afraid of being vulnerable because people will connect to you (Sarah of Smart Bitches said she just has rules about what she won’t talk about – like the mafia, don’t talk about the job, don’t talk about the family).

Ethics Forum Luncheon: I think a couple of years back there was a rash of posts about FTC disclosures and we’ve had previous sessions on this at BBC, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the topics at this forum, but this is still a useful panel nonetheless. Jane Litte of Dear Author moderated a discussion with Richard Newman of Hinch Newman LLP and Professor Geanne Rosenberg of Baruch College. First the speakers went over their credentials, then they discussed what the FTC guidelines for bloggers were. Basically you must disclose if you got a free product to review or are compensated in any way. It should be noted that the FTC is more concerned about reviews that are falsely positive in order to sell a product rather than reviews that are not positive. Disclosure should be clear and conspicuous. After this there was some discussion of ethics and conflicts of interest (something that gets in the way of or appears to get in the way of clear, unbiased, independent opinion), and then the floor opened up to questions. I wish I could say I paid more attention, but I’m afraid I zoned out after a while. :\ ETA: I meant to link to this Book Smuggler’s post in which they pointed out some of the problems with this panel which includes calling ARCs “free”.

Blogging Platforms: This might have been one of my favorite panels because the women who were in it (Rachel Rivera of Parajunkee, Evie Seo of Bookish, April Conant of good Books and Good Wine, and Stephanie Leary – a WordPress consultant) went into some more technical detail of the day-to-day differences between some of the more popular blogging platforms (specifically blogger and wordpress were compared, and then the differences between wordpress.com versus wordpress.org were discussed). I have a wordpress.com site because I cannot be bothered to deal with self-hosting, keeping code up-to-date, dealing with security and backing up my blog that is involved with wordpress.org, so this panel cemented my continuing laziness, but may eventually get fed up with some of the plugins I can’t get on the .com end. There was also an interesting discussion of useful-for-book-blogger wordpress.com plugins, including one for star-ratings. Plus I’d always been curious about blogger so it was interesting to have it’s pros and cons laid out even if I’m not really ever going to move there.

Extending the Reach of Your Blog Online: I was seriously waffling over sitting in on this panel until the moderator busted out a laptop and we realized that a powerpoint presentation was happening. It was a long day and I needed some visual aids in my life. The panelists were Mandy Boles of The Well-Read Wife, Malle Vallik of Harlequin (moderator), Eric Smith of Quirk Books, and Robert Mooney of Blogads. Basically this session was about using social media in order to drive traffic to your blog. Mandy Boles started by saying she thinks that the next big thing after twitter and facebook is instagram because it is on its way to having 100 million users within 3 years. She talked about how she uses Instagram, and then moved on Vine, which is like Instagram except users share  6 second long videos. She recommended using the availability of hashtags in both these social platforms to get yourself noticed. [FYI: both of these social apps are geared towards Apple customers, and I am anti-Apple, so for those of you like me: Vine just became available on android this week]. Eric Smith talked about how offline events can produce traffic online – for example he has something called the Geek Awards that has created traffic for his blog. Finally Robert Mooney recommended using Stumbleupon because ‘stumbles’ last a long time, while on twitter you post a link and the effect of bringing in traffic is only a temporary blast. He also recommends Reddit but cautions that you can’t just jump into the Reddit community, you have to be a “good citizen” and “do your research” before you dive in.

BEA: THE HAUL, THE PEOPLE
I attended BEA on Thursday and Friday (I thought about also going Saturday but I was pretty pooped by then). As usual it was pretty crowded and crazy, but this year I think I had a better time dealing with it. It helped that there weren’t that many books that I HAD to have so I wasn’t really rushing around. There were some long lines though – I think I waited up to an hour to get a couple of books signed. I didn’t really go straight to the most crowded areas when BEA first opened it’s doors so maybe I just wasn’t looking at the right time, but to me it didn’t seem like there were as many books out on the floor as before. It might be that there just was less Young Adult and Science Fiction & Fantasy out though because a couple of people told me they thought there were more books this year. I did feel like it was a lot harder to get extra copies of books. I was trying to get certain YA books that other bloggers asked me to look out for, but the publishers were pretty strict about the popular  titles.

Anyway, here’s my haul. I tried, but I have a hard time saying “no thanks” when someone hands me a book. This means there’s a couple of YAs in here that I’m debating if I’ll keep because I don’t really know what they’re about (The Wolf Princess and Catena in case you were wondering). The total is: 19 books, 1 sampler book, 1 novella.

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As usual, seeing blogger friends was the best part, so I was happy I got to spend some time walking around with Stacey (USAToday’s HEA and Heroes and Heartbreakers), and with Heidi (Bunbury In the Stacks). It was brief but I finally met Alyssa of Books Take You Places. I also met Andrew of Raging Biblioholism (he writes lovely reviews, you should all mosey over to his blog and check them out).

I saw a few other bloggers briefly through the days (Ana and Thea, Elizabeth, and Memory), but I wasn’t able to find everyone I knew who was there. I have to say I was really missing a few bloggers that I had connected with at previous BEAs who decided not to come this year – it felt strange not to see some of my fellow YAckers and Kristen of Fantasy Cafe. BEA wasn’t the same without them, but thank goodness for the Internet.

Overall, I was exhausted after three days, but BEA did it’s job in making me feel re-energized about reading and blogging, so this means I’m probably going to be posting more regularly around here and visiting and commenting on other book blogs again. Watch this space. 🙂

Highlights of BEA 2012: the Haul, the Bloggers, the External Events


OK, as a lot of book bloggers are aware, Book Expo America (BEA) is a huge trade fair for the book industry. Every year librarians, authors, book sellers, publishers, and other book-related professionals gather to network, attend panels, do business, and pick up new books.

Can you believe I’ve been going to BEA since 2009? That makes me sound like an old hand, but every year I get very excited the night before and can barely sleep. This year was the same, but at least this time I was able to sleep fine after day 1 (which was the BEA Blogger Con). I am clearly getting used to this. The one big difference for me this year was in the number of books I picked up at the BEA floor. I’ve finally gotten to the point where (gasp!) my willpower is stronger. I think in the past I’ve had the “well, it’s free and maybe I’ll like it” mentality. This year I was tough! I was strong! Most of the books I got were ones I was really excited to read, and so I think my average was 9 books each day. It was 20 books per day in the past.

THE HAUL:

Day one:

  • Because It is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin (signed)
  • Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch – One of my two impulse pick ups for the day. It was so shiny. “On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery” — sounds vaguely dystopian.
  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – a YA by Jasper Fforde – I’m in!
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (signed) – like I’ve said, I’m a fan of the animated short that won the Oscar.
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne  Valente (signed)
  • The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony – this was my other impulse pick up for the day. I just love the cover. It’s a historical fiction surrounding the illegal lace trade of the 1600s.
  • The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (signed) – The blurb sold me with these two lines: “graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Filius, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld.” – Mystical underworld? Cocky crown prince? Yes!
  • Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson – A new urban fantasy with a werewolf protagonist.


Day two:

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (signed)
  • Paris in Love by Eloisa James – this is a autobiography that was in the goodie bags at the Random House breakfast. I actually didn’t pick up a goodie bag (tough executive decision), but another blogger was going through their bag and gave this to me.
  • The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin (signed) – one of my most anticipated fantasy books of this year.
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (signed) – teenaged assassin fights as royal champion until a new royal assassin can be chosen.
  • Eventide by Tracy and Laura Hickman (signed) – Sounds like a fantasy version of 1001 Nights with a dragon instead of a king. Also – that’s right, I met Tracy Hickman of Dragonlance fame!
  • Breed by Chase Novak – Horror, so a gamble for me. Adore the tactile, rubbery feel of this cover though
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington – YA roadtrip and loss story. I won this on Pirate Penguin’s Reads and Sandy handed it to me while I was at BEA. 🙂
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – Another book from last year’s BEA which Kate from Babbling about Books, and More brought for me (thanks Kate!)

TIME WITH BOOK BLOGGERS
While new books are nice, the highlight for me really was seeing old and new book blogger faces. I mentioned meeting some bloggers at the BEA Blogger Con, but unfortunately, while I kept tweet-asking certain people where they were, it was difficult to go find and socialize with them. Some people were simply going to BEA rather than the BEA Blogger Con. The way to go turned out to be exchanging cell phone numbers and texting people to find out where they were (and I’m thankful I have Verizon – better reception at the Javits than other carriers).

Can I point you guys at this awesome post at Book Harbinger that I feel captures the fun of meeting booknerds?


I don’t know if I can name every person I saw and met for the first time so I’m sorry in advance for forgetting some people. I enjoyed texting with Sandy of Pirate Penguin’s Reads while both of us were commuting in by train and finally meeting in line for an autographing. I ran into Memory (Stella Matutina), Grace (Books of Love), Jessica (Read, React Review), Jane (Dear Author), Ana and Thea (The Book Smugglers), and Elizabeth (Gossamer Obsessions) a few times. Holly from Book Harbinger and Angie of Angieville and I had a good bowl of ramen after the BEA Blogger Con, and I saw them a couple more times on the floor. I also spent a few hours with Kristen of Fantasy Cafe – just sitting and relaxing for a bit. Later we had an adventure walking in the rain with a bunch of books and one umbrella. I finally got to meet Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks (texting – the way to go) while we were in line for N. K. Jemisin’s signing (and discovered we were in at least 3 other lines together). I met a few people at the Apocalypsies event as well. I reconnected with Romance lovers Kate (Babbling About Books and More), @nystacey, @KwanaWrites, and @marireads. Christine from The Happily Ever After came into the city and carved out time for a snack with Kristen and me before we had to head out for the NYPL event. And I also finally met Lisa of Starmetaloak at the Random House Breakfast and got to mingle with her there. I also met new-to-me bloggers Donna (Bites) and Grace (Books Without Any Pictures).

RANDOM HOUSE BREAKFAST
On Wednesday morning was the Random House Power Reader Breakfast. I have to say I was really impressed. The event space was really lovely, and the food was amazing (there was even a coffee station) – I couldn’t help comparing it to the breakfast at the BEA Blogger Con, and Random House came out looking better by leaps and bounds. There were short speeches by Nate Berkus (The Things That Matter) and Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit). I thought they were both speeches that were respectful and not pushy towards book bloggers. There were probably 100 book bloggers there and we got to socialize amongst ourselves as well as talk to Random House authors, editors, and publicists. I took several pictures, but Random House has a more lovely set on Pinterest here.

READINGS AT THE NYPL
Wednesday evening the New York Public Library hosted a “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Musical Improv” from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The website said: “Join Lev Grossman for an evening of literature and lyrics, featuring readings by Kristin Cashore, N.K. Jemisin, Naomi Novik, and Catherynne M. Valente”. Thank you to Kristen of Fantasy Cafe for giving me a heads up on this! There were a few things going on in the evenings after BEA but this was definitely on my to-go-to list.

I was expecting a crowd but the auditorium had a surprising amount of empty seats given who was speaking! It was a really nice evening. Lev Grossman introduced the authors after a nice speech in honor of Ray Bradbury’s passing, and then we were treated to readings set to live improvised mood music! Kristin Cashore, N.K. Jemisin, and Catherynne M. Valente read from their just released or to-be-released books (Bitterblue, The Shadowed Sun, and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland respectively), and Naomi Novak chose to read from the first of her Temeraire books (His Majesty’s Dragon). Afterwards, there was a nice question and answer session. I really enjoyed it and am still not over the fact that there weren’t more people there!


And those were the highlights of Tuesday and Wednesday of BEA for me this year. I went back to work on Thursday so I missed that day, but.. yeah, I am spent.

The Book Blogger Convention, 2011


This year’s Book Blogger Convention was bigger than the last. I heard that last year there were under 200 people there and this year the number was more like 400. Which isn’t bad for the second year! Also great is that year 2 felt better than the last, particularly with the schedule. Last year there were no choices of panels and we sat in the same room listening to panels one after another. This year there was a choice of panels after Breakfast and the Keynote Speaker (Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books). They also decided to do a “build your own swag bag” this year instead of giving all attendees a bag full of books and stuff that many people didn’t want.  Both these things were welcome changes in my mind, so kudos to the convention organizers for making those thoughtful changes.

I’m going to go over the panels that I attended and give a short overview of my impressions. This year I’ve been struggling a little bit with blog/work/life balance so what I wanted to take from the BBC was some perspectives on that, but I feel that this was my personal goal and that there’s enough at the Book Blogger Convention that there was something for everyone.

(Descriptions are copied from the convention schedule)

Practical Challenges of Blogging (10:00 – Noon) – Not managing  your time well? Do you want to get better about blog/life balance, multitasking, managing your TBR, and a host of other real world and life impacting topics? This panel will help you become a better blog manager. Panel: Meg [Write Meg] – moderator, Jennifer [Jenn’s Bookshelves], Raych [Books I Done Read], Kristen [Fantasy Cafe], Lenore [Presenting Lenore]

What was nice about these panels was that there were often different approaches to the same thing. One of the first things they discussed was time management and their particular methods. Jenn from Jenn’s Bookshelves talked about waking early and using several spreadsheets to give herself time to work on her blog and to keep herself organized. Other panelists were not so organized. What they seemed to agree on was that sometimes there are things in life with a higher priority than blogging. Sometimes it’s possible to do things ahead of time to cover your blog while you deal with Real Life, but other times it’s either kill yourself trying to make the self-imposed blogging commitment, or let it go. Lenore from Presenting Lenore described her Dystopian YA feature and how last summer it coincided with a busy time at work, and this spring she didn’t do it because she only had so much free time and she has a book coming out.

Another interesting thing that they covered was answering comments. Most said that when they started they answered every comment, but as their blogs grew they couldn’t always catch up. Raych said she saw a “rule” that bloggers should always answer every comment and then visit the other blogger’s blog and comment there and she “laughed and laughed”. They agreed this is a good idea when new and it’s also a good idea to visit people who visit you and occasionally comment, but to do so every time they comment can be too much. The “rule” makes sense in terms of building blogger relationships, but it is possible to over-extend yourself trying to keep up if you have a lot of comments.

They also covered negative comments. There seemed to be a range of things people did. One panelist said she deletes comments that are personal attacks. A few of them turn off comments after a certain point. One person said they were away from their blog so missed the brouhaha there, which turned out to be a good thing because it was over by the time they got back. Generally they said to try to step back rather than joining the fray because jumping in can just fuel the fire. And not to be “that guy” who has to be involved whenever something controversial happens.

There was a question from the audience regarding book tours. A few panelists didn’t do them because they felt like their review may not be seen when there’s a day or week when everyone is reviewing a book. Those who do do them prefer getting original content (one example of a successful tour was the Mockingjay one), but interviewing an author is not so tempting because it takes a lot of time to come up with original questions to ask the author. Lenore says she typically takes 4 hours to come up with interview questions. One panelist said if she does a book tour she asks to be the first stop so that she can stand out a bit more before everyone else starts posting about the same book.

Navigating the Grey Areas of Book Blogging (1:00-3:00) – Professionalism, ethics, netiquette and managing expectations are all topics of conversation that these panelists will speak to and discuss as part of this session. Panel: Heather [Age 30 + A Lifetime of Books] – moderator, Bethanne [The Book Studio], Kathleen [A Bookish Broad], Candace [Beth Fish Reads], Pam [Mother Reader], Amy [Amy Reads]

What I liked about this panel was how clear the moderator was from the get-go that what they’d be discussing was what worked for them, but were not rules that everyone HAD to follow. (I always feel like this should be obvious, but there’s always someone in the audience who feels annoyed because they disagree with what the panelists are saying. ALWAYYYYS!!!)

Some interesting topics they covered:

Professionalism – they were using this word in terms of conducting yourself professionally rather than as professionalism being a paid reviewer (versus a hobbyist – although they also said some people would object to it being called a hobby too).

Negative reviews – most people in the panel did post negative reviews, but felt that it’s up to the blogger if they only want to post about books they liked, but if you promised to review something for a publicist/reviewer, you should review it, although if you want (not necessary) you could contact them and say you didn’t like the book and see if they still want you to post it. The panelists said that negative reviews can sell a book too because what you didn’t like could be exactly what someone else does like.

Answering emails – I think this was because of a question from a publicist about what’s a good email subject line (the bloggers said a tailored email – I noticed you liked X so I think you’ll like Y, with the right NAME, not “Dear Blogger” or “Dear ,” is best). Most panelists don’t answer every email requesting for a book. If they haven’t answered, they don’t want it. One of the panelists answers every email except the ones that address her as “Mr …” (I do this too – I especially don’t reply to an email pitching me a book which is clearly in my review policy as not a genre I read. Like non-fiction? Self-help? Really?)

Revealing relationships – Most panelists felt that they should reveal if they got a book from a publisher/author. Some said if a blogger had a relationship with the author, like they met them etc, but not to make a big deal about it: “I met so-and-so at BEA and was so excited to read this book” or “I follow this author on twitter and..”  – I think this depends on how much you “know” the author.

Affliate links – One of the bloggers said that she thinks that the FCC guideline is that people need to put that they are an affiliate in every post, not just on a sidebar/somewhere in their blog. The FCC isn’t after book bloggers but she said this was the rule they came up with as she understood it after meeting with the FCC. (I personally find this annoying! Every post? I plan to look into this more)

Advertising – most of the panelists did not have advertisements in their blog but didn’t see anything wrong with it (they do advertise in terms of being affiliates).

Blogging for a Niche Market (3:00- 5:00) – Not every book or blog is the same. Spend some time learning about how each genre may or may not differ from each other. Network with your colleagues and learn more about how to blog within your particular niche and others. Panels: Florinda [The Three R’s Blog] – moderator, Amy [Passages to the Past] – Historical Fiction, Jen {Jen’s Book Thoughts] – Mystery/Crime Fiction, Jill [Rhapsody in Books] – Non Fiction, Rebecca [Rebecca Reads] – classics, Tanya [Dog Eared Copy] – Audiobooks, Cass [Bonjour Cass] – GLBTQ, Jennifer [Reading Rants] – Kidlit/Librarianship, Katie [Babbling About Books & More] – Romance, Sarah, Erin & Jenny [Forever Young Adult] – YA, Thea [The Book Smugglers] – Sci Fi/Fantasy

This panel was done a little differently. First the bloggers introduced themselves and their niches, and answered a couple of questions (how they were drawn to this niche, what did they do, if anything to reach readers outside this niche), then they came down to sit with the audience at different tables and did informal Q&A sessions with them. I think I got the least out of this unfortunately. I felt like the tables were too big and there were just 3 people out of 10-12 really talking (maybe that was just the table I was at), and not everyone had a chance to enter the conversation. I liked that they did something different though – maybe next time, smaller tables, better organization (like every 15 min make people switch tables), maybe a moderator for each table with a list of topics.

BEA 2011

It’s been a long week. BEA has come and gone again, and I’m still recuperating.

Approach:
This year the exhibit hall was open for 3 days rather than 2 (Tuesday through Thursday), but I only went on Wednesday and Thursday (and then Friday was the Book Blogger Convention). As it was, this was plenty! It felt like the vast majority of the authors were signing on Wednesday, although I heard comments from people that Tuesday seemed to be the day with the most YA offerings. I don’t know this for sure though. This year I’ve had less free time than the same time last year and the year before, so I spent the least time preparing. I didn’t look at the BEA schedule till the weekend before, didn’t print out any new business cards, and didn’t even take my camera. I also spent less time seeking out publicists because I’m saying “no” a lot more than I’m saying “yes” to review requests these past couple of months. So my approach was a lot more stepped back this year. The thing I most wanted to do was meet bloggers, which I did, so I think I got what I wanted out of BEA.

Buzz on the floor:
I’m not a YA blogger (so I feel out of the loop about the new YA buzz), but the YA books I saw really REALLY long lines for were for The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson and Melissa Marr’s signing of Entralled and Darkest Mercy. I heard Richelle Mead was a big draw when she was signing at the Harlequin booth, and I heard that The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was another big draw. Kate (aka Katiebabs) is raving about Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, so that one has me interested, but I didn’t find a copy (but watch for her review, she really loved it and says the antagonist is deliciously evil yet charismatic, like an Eric from Phantom of the Opera or a Lex Luthor). Anyway, YA seems as big to me as previous years, but this year there were also a lot of middle grade books. In the SF front, there were a lot of girls excited about Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire being there (I have promised to read Feed so I can catch up on the Newsflesh series).

The Haul:
My focus was on romance and speculative fiction. This year I had a better idea of what was available for SF because I’ve learned that Orbit likes to tweet it’s in-booth signings and Tor puts up their signings on their blog, so that was good (I have to thank Kristen @ Fantasy Cafe for giving me the skinny on that). I did end up getting a lot more books than I planned to though. As usual. I have extras of things and things I’m weeding out so giveaways coming sometime soon.

Click to embiggen. Links to Amazon (I’m an affiliate).

Wednesday:


When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (signed. Beauty and the Beast story, I must have it), Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn (signed), Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards (signed), Blood Rights by Kristen Painter, Dumpling Days by Grace Lin, Deadline by Mira Grant (signed!), The Dark at the End by F. Paul Wilson, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (signed), The Rivals by Daisy Whitney, True UFO accounts (for my dad), The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain (signed), The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed (signed), The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman (signed), Already Home by Susan Mallery (signed)


The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge (signed), Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (signed), Sunset Bridge by Emilie Richards (signed), Shut Out by Kody Keplinger, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, Central Park Knight by C. J. Henderson, Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott (signed), The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn (signed!), Haunted Legend edited by Ellen Datlow (signed, she was very nice), Kitty’s Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn (signed).

Thursday:


Blood Rights by Kristen Painter (signed), Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (signed!), Just My Type by Simon Garfield (non-fiction, impulse pick up, I like fonts), The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess by Leanna Renee Hieber (signed), How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston (impulse, love this title), Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (signed), Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (YA science fiction.. we’ll see), The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (impulse, about time travel, sounds cool), Wintertown by Stephen Emond (it’s got pictures inside), Fracture by Megan Miranda, Between by Jessica Warman (ghost protagonist), After Obsession by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel, Eve by Anna Carey, Manga Man by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran

The Book Blogger Convention, Part 2

I had the second part of this written and it was a lengthy article of wonder. All ready to go for a cut and paste into the blog. What happened? Well I had it saved as a draft in gmail (which is where I write my posts so I can work in it on any one of my computers), but as I selected it all to copy, I hit control+v instead of control+c. And then gmail autosaved right then. And control+z? DID NOTHING!!! I had a mini breakdown. It started with numbness then pain, then anger and depression. 😛 Anyway, (sigh, the acceptance phase), here we go again.

This is part 2 of 2 parts


The Marketing panel from very far away…
4) Marketing [2:00-2:50]
This was a panel consisting of Gayle [Everyday I Write the Book], Yen [The Book Publicity Blog], Ann [Books on the Nightstand], and Thea [The Book Smugglers]. Heather [Age 30+ Books] moderated.

The point of this panel seemed to be that to have a successful blog need to market it. You need to brand yourself, and have a particular niche. It sounds difficult, but really branding should be easy for bloggers – just be yourself and let the passion come through. Have a hook or an identity. The idea can rub people the wrong way, but it’s useful to have something, even if it’s a tagline, to say who you are. Anything can become your brand.

The panelists also said it’s important to spend time community building. For example, when The Book Smugglers first started, they responded to every comment.  All the panelists agreed about commenting. You can create dialogue by commenting on other people’s blogs as well. Another idea is to do guest reviews or have guest reviewers come to your blog. Having an event can also build community. Another Book Smugglers example is their event called Smugglevus which is based on Festivus and is basically a book love fest.  You could also create some kind of online book club.

Know who your readers are and go about finding them and connecting to them. There was some discussion of using social media like twitter and facebook to get readers, but not to spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to sign up for everything, just look at whats out there and choose a couple of things. If you are trying too hard it shows.

As an aside it was noted that if you have a blog, make sure your RSS is easy to find. Have a big ol’ link or icon so readers know how to add a subscription to your blog.

The discussion went to stats for a little bit. Publicists like to get stats so that they can decide whether a blog is popular and would reach a lot of readers. Many of the panelists felt like stats are an imperfect measurement (I don’t recall the exact wording here). A blog may have small numbers but hold a lot of sway over it’s readers in what it recommends. On the other hand, Thea from the Book Smugglers disagreed and said that they pay a lot of attention to their stats and are open with having a counter and with telling publicists their stats. [ How do I feel about this? I think it’s one of those hot button topics where people have strong opinions. Remember last year, the discussion after Katiebabs posted commentary on the Book Blogger Panel at BEA, 2009? Anyway, I personally have mixed feelings. I do want stats to go up so that I know people are reading my blog and I can have discussions with MORE people about books (yay!), but I also admit I don’t look at them all the time, and with three mirrored blogs, with different difficulty in getting stats from them (wordpress is good, vox is awful, LJ has stats for paid members and I wasn’t always paid), I usually find it confusing to figure out].

The final comment was that one of the panelists put up a survey to find out who their readers were and they were surprised by the results. They found out that they had a lot of readers who weren’t book bloggers or book publishing people. The recommendation was to know your readers. Survey them to find out who they are for example.

Blogging with Social Responsibility (sorry for blurriness. My camera’s zoom is awful)

5) Blogging with Social Responsibility [3:00-3:50]
Another panel with Zetta [Fledgling], Terry [The Reading Tub], Wendy [Caribousmom], and Stephen Bottum [Band of Thebes]. The moderator was Marie from The Boston Bibliophile.

In this panel, the two blogs Fledgling and Band of Thebes seemed to have a strong focus on their causes (race and LGBT in books respectively), while The Reading Tub and Caribousmom were book blogs which also tried to bring attention to causes important to them (Children’s literacy and pediatric cancer) but it wasn’t the main focus of their blogs.

I didn’t take notes for this panel so what I have here comes from memory. The main point of this session seemed to be that bloggers can affect change. The panelists brought up the recent outrage in the blogging community over the whitewashing in covers, and how bloggers got Bloomsbury to change its covers twice. There was a comment from the audience that sometimes bloggers don’t notice, such as the case when the cover for The Mariposa Club – where Latino characters were depicted as paler than the story described, and a fourth transgendered character isn’t shown at all. Zetta said she was disappointed in herself and in her community for not knowing about this, and said that bloggers need to use their connections and email other blogs to pass along this type of message. She also said it’s important to make alliances with other communities so that if there is overlap (like in this case where the LGBT and minorities are affected), they can work together in expressing their disapproval.

Another point I remember was that someone asked if anyone encountered any negative commenting on their posts because of their causes. Stephen Bottum said he didn’t have any angry commenters, and Zetta agreed that in her personal blog other commenters were good about redirecting the conversation back to the topic on hand, but when she posted on The Huffington Post she had more nasty comments and doesn’t post there anymore.

I liked this panel. I think that many people have a cause that they feel strongly about and that blogging is a good away to put it out there, even in a small way. Actually, at the BBC there was a blogger who mentioned wanting to do something for the schools in Nashville, who lost a lot of books due to the flooding, and here’s a link on how to help. (I made buttons, will post later)!

6) Impact of the Relationship between Author and Blogger [4:00-4:50]
This was another panel with Amy [My Friend Amy], Bethanne [The Book Studio], Kristi [The Story Siren], Beth Kephart [Beth Kephart Books], and Caridad Pineiro [Caridad Pineiro’s Blog]. It was moderated by Nicole [Linus’s Blanket]

I didn’t take notes on this panel either. So this is from my memory again and is basically a vaguely remembered summary. I think the first part of this was about how as people use social media and spend time online, they begin to develop relationships and sometimes this can put you in an awkward place when talking about a book written by someone you have a relationship with. The two authors said that they don’t review books. They may pimp their friend’s books, and say why they liked the book, but won’t say anything negative. Beth Kephart said that if she didn’t like a book she won’t say that, but she doesn’t lie either – she would just discuss why she likes her friend and describe the book they have coming out. The authors on the panel also said that authors should not engage with a reader who has written a negative review. Kephart says she tries not to read reviews, but occasionally reads reviews friends have sent her that were positive and she appreciates the time reviewers take to write reviews. There was an audience member who said they wrote reviews but wanted to become an author, and asked for tips regarding doing that. It seemed like there was no real answer for how to be an author and a reviewer at the same time, but the authors thought it was possible.

The book bloggers said that if they had a relationship with an author they would disclose this in a review (I think this was the Story Siren), but also said if they tweeted to the author once that they were reading their book, this didn’t count as a relationship (also – don’t tweet your review to an author if it’s a negative one!). Amy from My Friend Amy said that if she likes an author and has a relationship with them online, but then does not like a book, she may end up not reviewing it. It seems to be up to the blogger how they want to handle that situation. Some people still review the book, others find it too awkward and don’t.

——-
So there you have it. As you can see there were a lot of panels, but I was happy to be sitting down after walking around with 20 pounds of books for two days. For improvements, I think that I’d like to have had a longer break around 3 when I  started to flag, rather than having the small 10 minute breaks between sessions. Also I’ll bring a jacket next time – it was freezing in the conference room. Another thought is I’d like to see more genre fiction bloggers (romance for instance). Although it looked like the organizers tried to have diversity in book bloggers, there were more general fiction and children’s/young adult book bloggers than anything else (but then, there are more of those kinds of books at BEA).

Overall I was impressed with the organization and look forward to see it grow next year (which I think it will).

The Book Blogger Convention, Part 1

Aha, I bet you thought I was done talking about BEA and the Book Blogger Convention didn’t you? Well I took a bunch of notes on the panels for the Book Blogger Convention and laziness prevented me posting about it sooner. I do want to use these notes though because it used a lot of my phone battery to take them and it almost didn’t last the night (making me concerned that I’d have to call my ride from the train station via payphone). So in honor of that phone battery that could, here we go.

By now there have been a couple of good wrap-ups of the BBC in my google reader, so I will point you to them as well:

  • Fantasy Cafe – did a very good overview which summarized the BBC panels and highlighted interesting points the panels made.
  • The Book Smugglers – A detailed breakdown of the panels at BBC plus commentary on each.

This is part 1 of 2 parts (I wrote up a post that was ridiculously long).

Overview
So what is the Book Blogger Convention? It’s pretty much what the name suggests – a convention for book bloggers. A few bloggers got together and decided to have a small convention close to the same time as BEA (probably knowing a lot of bloggers would be at BEA anyway). At first the convention had an upper limit to number of participants, but after the BEA organizers learned about it they offered space at the Javits Center (along with tickets to BEA for the bloggers). Now it’s affiliated with BEA. The website says that it’s goal is “to provide support, instruction, and social time for people who blog about books”.

I was pretty impressed by the Book Blogger Convention. For a convention in it’s first year, there was a big turn out. Lots of publishers and PR and authors knew about it and showed up the day before for a meet-and-greet. And the organization that probably went into the food, the goodie bags, bringing in the speakers, and the websites (both the main one and an online auction site) was staggering. It’s amazing what a handful of bloggers managed to do.

The Book Blogger Convention was a one day event (Friday, May 28th) which was simply laid out as a series of panels related to book blogging:

1) Keynote speaker (9:00-10:30)
Maureen Johnson started it all off as the keynote speaker. She was hilarious. I had heard her name before as I think she’s a pretty well-known young adult author and I’ve been meaning to read Suite Scarlett. After a speech which had me laughing so hard I could have cried at one point (and that’s not easy), I was really glad that Suite Scarlett audiobooks were part of our BBC goodie bags. She talked about becoming a writer, New York City, social media (likes twitter, hates facebook – I concur), book bloggers and more. It was 90 minutes long, but I was entertained the whole time.

2) Professionalism and Ethics in Blogging (10:45-11:45)
Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com was the speaker for this session. His presentation is available online here.

He said that bloggers should not let journalistic ethics be imposed upon them. The situations are different, and what may apply to journalism may not apply to blogging. He discussed how ethics are more about questions you’re asking rather than set of principles, and that you have to establishing rules of thumb by talking to people and seeing the situation. From his site he summarizes it thus: “just as I argued that bloggers shouldn’t be judged by somebody else’s standard of professionalism, they shouldn’t be compelled to accept somebody else’s code of ethics in order to be deemed trustworthy. I’m not a big fan of declaring adherence to a code of ethics as a shortcut to credibility”.

The example he presented for that was last years brouhaha about the FCC guidelines. Newspapers don’t have to say where they got their books from, and now the FCC doesn’t say bloggers need to say where they’re from. Some people still reveal where they got a book. Some don’t. In Hogan’s opinion, if you don’t say where a book is from, it doesn’t mean you’re secretive. It’s just not an important part of the conversation to you. It is not a hard and fast rule.

There was a brief question/answer session. Books on the Nightstand commented that people should get away from the words “free books” in terms of review copies that are sent to bloggers. They are not free when bloggers spend so much time and effort reading and reviewing the books. This was a good point. Another interesting point was a publisher who said that they were happy when bloggers couldn’t review something and gave them away to someone who would read it. I think the thought is that it’s going into the hands of someone who would appreciate it, not to say that they were OK if a blogger *never* reviewed a book they received.

I thought it was an interesting session. I’m not sure I agree completely that there are never hard and fast rules, but it gave me something to think about. To be honest, this was one of the sessions where the title itself made me think, “This could go badly.” I mean, book bloggers write reviews. Reviewers are opinionated. Telling people who have opinions about doing things professionally and ethically may not go over well. I also think that things can get misinterpreted online. I wasn’t surprised to see people criticizing some of his points, but I think putting video and audio online cut down on secondhand misunderstanding at least.

[Lunch]

3) Writing and Building Content (1:00-1:50)
This was a panel with Amanda [The Zen Leaf], Kim [Sophisticated Dorkiness], Betsy [A Fuse #8 Production], and Christina [Stacked], moderated by Rebecca [The Book Lady’s Blog].

This was a panel regarding coming up with interesting ideas for blog posts. I think I enjoyed this one just because it was like peeping into a window and seeing how other people work on their blogs.  They suggested a lot of different things to kick start your creativity but they all agreed that a blogger’s voice is unique and although it’s the usual first date cliche, people should “Be themselves”. Each person brings own expertise from their lives,  jobs, and experience. They also commented that your voice changes as you evolve. Just don’t try to be something you aren’t because if you force it, it will show in the writing.

They suggested that for new bloggers, memes are a good way to get your name out there and meet new people, but once people get to your blog, they need a reason to stay. One suggestion is to have series (one example was a series on bees, another was a series of 5 books that fit a particular topic), which is a way to keep readers interested in a topic, and pull them into your blog. One blogger in the panel says she has a series where she compares Harry Potter in hardcover to paperback and the UK versions and lists each minute difference.

No idea what to write? They suggested having a go-to type of post for these situations (examples were posting about chatting with their husband at bedtime, and a saved file with future releases to post about). A couple of the panelists said they had posts scheduled weeks out or were usually 3 weeks ahead in reviews (Uh… making me feel inferior), so they work on the timing when they’re not able to blog. Another suggestion is if you’re reading a long book, to break it down into many posts instead of just one.

All of these bloggers wrote long posts and most agreed they wrote down their thoughts on a book in a notebook as they read to help them with reviews later (I tried this last year by the way… I stopped because it takes too long. I’m more of a write what I remember reviewer).

BEA and the Book Blogger Convention: The People

I had so many pictures to post that I had to separate the posts!

The Authors:
I met so many authors in their signings, but I didn’t really try to ask for pictures until the second day of BEA.  So here’s a few pictures of me and a few authors that were there.


Deanna Raybourn

I was really looking forward to meeting Deanna Raybourn since I’ve been loving her Lady Julia Grey series. Her signing for The Dead Travel Fast was the only book I had in all caps on my itinerary. I was so worried about the lines for the Harlequin signing Thursday morning, because the signing the day before was mobbed, I left another signing to wait early.

Me with the big grin and Deanna Raybourn

Me and Kevin J. Anderson

Actually Kevin J. Anderson is an author I haven’t read. I was going to see if I could pick up his book for someone but wow, they were popular and were all gone by the time I got there! The author was still there so I asked for a picture instead. 🙂 I need to try out his series one day.

Me and Jeri Smith-Ready

OK, my eyes are partially closed in this picture. Jeri Smith-Ready was the other author on Thursday I really wanted to meet since I’m a fan of her WVMP Radio series. She was signing for her new young adult book, Shade, at the Romance Writers of America booth, and I’ve heard good things in early reviews about it so I wanted to snag a copy and meet her. Another case where I had to make a choice and leave another line so I wouldn’t miss an author! This line was deceptive – it wound behind booths and looked shorter than it was. And Jeri Smith-Ready recognized me! 😀 Shocking.

The Bloggers:

I met so many people at BEA and the BBC that I’m afraid I’m probably going to forget someone. Let’s try (If I forgot you.. I’m so sorry!):

Wednesday night was a dinner with Stacey and Angie, then the A Celebration of Book Bloggers where we sat at a round table at the Algonquin Hotel and talked. The BookSmugglers have a picture of that.

Thursday was another dinner with book bloggers over at The Volstead. *pointing a the Book Smugglers picture again*. That was a lot of fun, and I stayed a little longer this night than the night before. Kristen from the Fantasy Cafe and I spent some time at a B&N before the party, which was nice. We had a weird cab ride where the cab driver was ARGUING with us over where we wanted to go, but he eventually decided the traffic wasn’t as bad as he thought.

Friday was ANOTHER dinner. I’ve been DYING to eat at Ippudo for months but my friends keep going without me! *shakes fist at them alllll*. Anyway, Angie and I made plans to finally eat there and Kristen, and Ana and Thea. Ah, the food was excellent. I recommend their pork buns and the Akumaru Modern Ramen which is what I ate. I was so happy to be finally tasting it, but let me tell you – if you ever go, be prepared for a longgg line ( I think we waited an hour and a half). Being exhausted kind of doesn’t help.

Kristen, Angie, Thea, and Ana

Yum!

BEA and the Book Blogger Convention: the Haul

This year Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention happened in the same week in New York City. And I’m lucky since I live a short 40 minute train ride away from Grand Central (so convenient), so of course I went! I attended BEA on Wednesday, May 26th, and Thursday, May 27th, and then BBC was the day after that – Friday, May 27th.

It was really, really exhausting. I woke up at 7am, caught a train at 7:34, got to Jacob Javitts center at about 8:30, and then it was about 8 hours of being on my feet with about twenty pounds plus of books. Repeat for 2 days, then one day at BBC which involved more sitting, thank goodness.I knew about the pain because of going to BEA last year so I was armed with Ibuprofen and comfy shoes, but this year I also went to dinners after the conventions, which was lots of fun, but made each day longer! I got home between 9:30 and 11:30pm every day. 😀 But – would I do it again? YES. My mind may have been slow by 5pm, but I was comforted by the fact that most people were in the same boat, and this year I’m glad I got to spend some time just sitting and talking to people. I have pictures of some of the bloggers and authors I met which I will post later.

After last year, my goal was to try not to get as many books. I’m not really sure I succeeded. I believe I got 40 books last year in two days. This year I got 38 in three, plus another 4 picture books I got for my niece and nephew. I’m not counting sample chapters (2), comics (2), ebooks (2), or pop-up samples (2), and other stuff (bags, bookmarks, catalogs) to that count. I apologize in advance for the image heaviness of this post.

Day One:
I did SO WELL in the first day. I had willpower.

These are all the books I got signed – Zombies Vs. Unicorns (4 signatures: Scott Westerfeld, Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Alaya Dawn Johnson), Leaving Paradise, and Return to Paradise (both by Simone Elkeles, a YA author I have not tried but hear very good things about), Lady Lazarus (Michele Lang who explained that this book was fantasy rather than science fiction, but she described some very interesting historical elements), Jekel Loves Hyde (Beth Fantaskey – another YA author I’ve been recommended), Ascendant (Diana Peterfreund, second book of her series about killer unicorns, and an author Angieville recommends. I need to read her Secret Society Girl series too – something about a dude named Poe?), My Soul to Keep (Rachel Vincent. I must admit that I wasn’t blown away by the first book in the series, but maybe this book will be better),  Inside Out (Maria V. Snyder. A book I read and really liked),  and Dreadnought (Cherie Priest – this was an ARC copy so the type was black, not the brown of Boneshaker. Priest said she wasn’t sure whether the brown font would continue).

These are the books I didn’t plan on getting. Married with Zombies by Jesse Peterson and The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron were both from the Orbit booth and look great. One is about a married couple, on the verge of divorce who have to fight zombies together to survive. The other is a fantasy about a man named Eli Monpress who is both a thief and a wizard, and the blurb hints at a surprising plan to steal a king. Both look like promising first books in a series.

The L. Ron Hubbard and Michael Chabon books were given to me by a publicist and at the A Celebration of Book Bloggers by HarperCollins.

Sample pages from a Super Heroes pop-up book by Matthew Reinhart.
ebooks of Ascendant and Paranormalcy, and sample chapters from The Black Prism and White Cat.

Day Two:
My willpower went to pot this day. I blame Ana and Thea of The Book Smugglers who I walked around with in the morning. Girls – I shall send you my chiropractic bill.

This is the signed pile. Shift by Rachel Vincent, Salamander by Nick Kyme (Thea’s fault, but I must say – Space Marines? Sold), Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman (I need to catch up with this series), Fat Vampire by Adam Rex (a YA about a 15 year old, chubby kid who becomes a vampire – Ana and Thea’s fault.. It was a popular book though – a huge line for a debut author), The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M Campbell (she had cool embossers for Heroes and Villains depending on what readers said they were. I said “I have no idea” and got the Renegade” stamp! Makes me sound dangerous), Shade by Jeri Smith Ready (!!!) , Unraveled by Gena Showalter (this was an impulse one), The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn (!!!! ) and Firelight by Sophie Jordan (has an amazing cover). I was the MOST excited about meeting Jeri Smith-Ready book and Deanna Raybourn. In fact I left lines for other authors so I wouldn’t miss them.

The Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nemura (Yen press book with a manga cover but it’s not a manga. It’s a short novel with some manga style pictures about a girl who is actually a demon who eats books – so I had to get it), Mostly Good Girls by  Leila Sales (a YA novel, The Book Smugglers fault), Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles, Beautiful Darkness by Cami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (sequel to the YA novel,  Beautiful Creatures which is still in my TBR. I seem to be a sucker for the covers), The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (recommended by a lot of speculative fiction readers I follow, so I got one), and Hero by Mike Lupica (Book smugglers fault).

I think I need a code for It Was the Book Smugglers’ faults. So lets go with “TBSF”. Drakula (handed out by a publicist at Sourcebooks. It’s a a YA version of Dracula, where everything is in texts, webpage views and emails), The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin (TBSF), Dust by Joan Francis Turner (TBSF – I was interested since it’s a YA from the POV of zombies), The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (mystery related to the Sherlock Holmes books), Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (I picked it up because it was pretty!), The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima (TBSF), Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (so many people were anticipating this so I decided to get one too. There was a stampede for it), and Mansfield Park and Mummies by Vera Nazarian (OK, I KNOW .. I did have that rant about monster mash-ups, but this was offered to me at a blogger dinner, and after two people recommending I try this I feel like the universe wants me to read it. I will keep my mind open).

These are the books I got for my niece and nephew. My niece is a HUGE Fancy Nancy fan so it was worth waiting in line for a looonnng time for the author’s autograph. Angie from Angieville recommended Library Lion, and the other two picture books looked charming so I got them signed for the kids too.

Sample pages for another pop-up book – A Christmas Carol, designed by Chuck Fischer

Comics. I picked up Killing the Cobra because of Mario Acevedo’s name attached to it.
Sense and Sensibility was a no-brainer. And I like the art in this one better than the
Pride and Prejudice comic.

Day Three:

I wasn’t expecting MORE BOOKS, but that’s what happened at the Book Blogger Convention. We all got a goodie bag that was full of books. There was also a cute booklight.   I’m not sure if I’m going to read any of these except Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti, which Angie of Angieville said was very good.

I’m also excited to listen to this audiobook (Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson) which came with our goodie bags. An author I’ve been meaning to try, and she was the keynote speaker at BCC. She was hiliarious.

NYC is for Bibliophiles: BEA and the Book Blogger Convention

BEABook blogger convention

I just wanted to point out that there’s a lovely book blogger tour going on right now for BEA and the Book Blogger Convention which will be happening in May in New York City.

If you are a book blogger, I had a really good time at BEA
last year so you should seriously consider coming (and if you do, hey,
let me know so I can look for you!). Last year I went in sort of scared
of the whole thing (“Who can I hide behind, crowds are not for me!”)
but it turned out to be awesome, because I swear, I FOUND MY PEOPLE.
And I was surrounded by books. Many, many books. 😀

Katiebabs of Babbling about books and more!, Angie of Angieville, and Jess of Book Reviews by Jess had some good tips on how to prepare for BEA and what to do when you were there. One of the best tips I got (from Wendy the Super Librarian)
when I was a newbie last year was to wear comfortable shoes. You will
be doing a lot of walking, and you will also be carrying a lot of
books.  Um.. she also recommended having some Advil handy I think,
which was again – true (the pain of carrying 40 books around all day
was worth it though).


OK, since many people have already covered what to do at BEA, I am
going to add some bookish things to do around the city if you have some
extra time around BEA and the Book Blogger Convention:

1) The Library Hotel – I’ve
never stayed here but I want to. This is a boutique hotel near Grand
Central station which has rooms full of books. And it’s based on the
Dewey Decimal system!

“Each of the 10 guestroom floors honor one of the 10 categories of the DDC and each of the 60 rooms are uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category it belongs to.”

This is not exactly the cheapest hotel but they have specials
if you book ahead, and this week (Feb 12th to 19th) there is an extra
25% off their special rates. You just have to know what days you are
staying and the reservation would be non-refundable.

2) The Morgan Library and Museum
– The Morgan Library is also near midtown at Madison Ave. and 36th
Street. It was donated by J.P. Morgan Jr. and houses the library of
Pierpoint Morgan.

I am IN LOVE with the “Mr. Morgan’s Library”. It is beautiful.
Old books encased in gorgeous bookshelves in a huge, three story room,
complete with giant fireplace, amazing ceiling-work and one of a kind
manuscripts? I died and went to heaven. I could probably just stay in
that room, staring at the shelves for hours! Cool things: several
bookshelves devoted to bibles in different languages, a shelf full of
the Robinson Crusoe, and several illustrated manuscripts. Did you know
that the Morgan has three Gutenberg bibles? THEY DO. Anyway, I just
loved this room. The architecture and design of it are amazing.
A-MAZE-ING.

Right now there is an exhibition featuring Jane Austen called “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy“,
but it ends March 12th, long before BEA, which is unfortunate. I went
to see it 3 weeks ago. It was slightly crowded but with a little
patience you can spend a lot of time staring at some of Jane Austen’s
letters. I found it interesting that someone had painstakingly cut out
certain lines from her letters – probably her family removing something
that they deemed inappropriate from public view, and how she used every
free space on the paper to write in. Sometimes she would turn the page
90 degrees and write on top of what she’d already written. She had very
nice handwriting but I found it hard to read – I preferred her sister
Cassandra’s writing in terms of being readable to me. I would haven
taken pictures, but none were allowed. I ended up buying a postcard of
a letter Jane wrote to her niece – each word spelled backward. More on
this exhibit at Austenacious.  If you miss it, I am sure there will be something else for a book lover to see by May.

3) Strand bookstore – Strand
books is the East Coast Powell’s. It’s a very large independent
bookstore with “18 miles of books”. They sell a mix of new and used
books (more new than used I feel), and there are ARCs for sale in the
basement. I haven’t been too impressed by their romance section (it
doesn’t seem to exist), but their YA section is big and impressed me.
Anyway, I’ve been there a few times, and I think if you love books you
should go there at least once.It’s at 828 Broadway and 12 Street in the East Village.

4) The New York Public Library (main branch/Steven A Scharzman building)
– You know, I’ve never actually been inside the main branch building of
the NYPL? I have walked by it a lot though! It is on my to-do list.
This building is located on Fifth Ave between 40th and 42nd streets,
next to Bryant Park, and it’s the library with the lions out in front
(their names are Patience and Fortitude). This library houses special
(non-circulating) collections. Ongoing exhibits incude the Gutenberg Bible, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends: the original toys, and the Jill Kupin Rose Gallery. There are interesting things happening there every day, and then there’s the stunning main reading room. The room is nearly 2 city blocks: 297 ft long, 78 feet wide, 51 feet high with ceilings that have murals of the sky. Wowza.

5) Kinokuniya Bookstore
– This is a little different since it’s a japanese bookstore. This is
the best place to go to if you love anime, manga, stationary and
japanese magazines. I have been here a few times, and I always find
something cute as hell to buy, be it a FRuITS magazine
or colored pens. And they have a cafe that sells bento boxes for nice
prices. Come on! There aren’t many japanese bookstores like this in the
U.S. so it’s special (I’m sad they closed the Kinokuniya branch in
Westchester). I’ve also been to the San Jose and San Fransisco branches
– all nice!

OK that’s what I have to begin with. There is much more. If you have
any favorite bookish places in the city, please comment with them! I
live near it and want to hear about it. 🙂

And if you go to BEA/the book blogger con and see me, please say hi! I
will be the half-asian girl with a black and red backpack, lots of bags
and comfy shoes. And an expression of bliss on my face.