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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My Thoughts on the BEA Bloggers Conference, 2012

[Note: If you aren’t a book blogger, feel free to skip this post. It’s long and probably only interesting to a certain group of people who read my blog]

I have been an attendee at the Book Blogger Convention since the very first one in 2010. My posts on these can be found under the “book blogger convention” tag, otherwise look at:

Usually I’ve enjoyed the Book Blogger Convention (BBC). It’s been an event surrounding book blogging and I’ve meet a lot of bloggers there and had a chance to listen in on panels where different book bloggers discussed a particular topic. Sometimes I don’t agree with something a panelist says, but that’s to be expected. I still felt like I came away with a better understanding of how others blogged about books and felt more rejuvenated about book blogging. It was also a fantastic deal: $90 for the first book blogger con, $120 the next.  This included a pass to the BEA floor for the rest of BEA. The first year registration was with Paypal and the organizers set it up so BEA issued me a pass, the second year I was instructed to sign up directly through the BEA website, where I was identified as Non Editorial/Media when I signed up with the Book Blogger Convention.

This year, I didn’t have the same positive experience.

REGISTRATION HELL
I think my discontent started early, with registration. At the end of January, it was announced that Reed Exhibitions had bought the Book Blogger Convention. This was a surprise to many, and bloggers wondered what it meant to the BBC. I didn’t have any expectations one way or another, but I was soon feeling the repercussions of the buyout. I was on twitter right after the announcement, and another blogger was complaining about issues with understanding how to register. Thinking I’d be helpful, I tried to register myself. I went through the BEA website, through the regular registration, as I had last year. I selected Book Bloggers Convention, and the form said the early bird rate (before May 17th) would be $72 and “This does INCLUDE a BEA pass”. I also said I was Non Editorial Media, which I assumed I should, like last year, on another page during the registration process. Here’s a screenshot I made for part of that:

I was shocked when I got to the payment part of the process and it said I owed $65 for the BBC, and another $159.00 on top of that for being non-editorial/media, for a grand total of $224.00, which is almost twice how much it cost last year. On top of that, why did I have to pay the $159, when the BBC is supposed to include BEA? Other bloggers on twitter informed me they only paid $65 for their registration, but they had registered before the announcement that the BBC was bought. I thought that there had to be a mistake.


So then I located the number for customer service and called them. I explained my issues and wondered why I had to pay for being non-editorial/media on top of the BBC cost, when it said BEA was included. I asked if I should have gone through the press registration (which was on a different part of the website), because apparently that would have been $0 on top of the BBC cost. The woman I spoke to wanted to know how big my blog was – how much traffic did I get? I told her it shouldn’t matter because I was still a book blogger and last year, my traffic wasn’t an issue to getting into a conference about book blogging access to the floor was included in the price. I also told her: book bloggers are people who post their opinions on the Internet. They will not be happy if BEA was saying a big blogger got to pay less for an event and a small blogger had to pay more. She said she would talk to someone, took my number and promised to call back before the end of the day. She never called. This was Friday, and customer service was only available during working hours, so I got to stew all weekend before I could contact another representative. I also loved how I had to call while I was at work myself.

Also notable: I had to point out another huge error in their registration pages – the BEA website said the Children’s Breakfast was on Wednesday, the registration had it listed on Thursday. They fixed this quickly, but as for my registration? It took me almost 2 weeks and several phone calls and emails to Reed. As I said, this was during my work hours, and it did impact my mood and productivity to be calling BEA or waiting for them to call me back. In the end, there was so much confusion that they had to make an announcement on their BEA news blog. The price would be $135 for book bloggers, and this would cover the BEA pass. But since when I had tried to register the price was wrong, and that since I saw the price as $72, that’s what they would charge me. I had to jump through an extra hoop, filling out a form and faxing it to them (I ended up emailing them a PDF because who has a fax?) in order to get this price. I know I could have argued for $65 since I saw that too, but I was tired. I honestly debated just paying the $135 everyone else seemed to be, but after all the grief I had gone through and images of my mother smacking me for not knowing the value of money, I took the discount. At this point, I considered writing up a post on how to register for the BBC (at that point rebranded as “BEA Bloggers Conference”), but I thought BEA had fixed most of their issues and I didn’t want to revisit the whole thing because it just annoyed me thinking about it. I had people tell me that they saw the issues I was going through (I was ranting on twitter for some of it) and it made them wait till Reed had their registration straightened out.

STRANGE PHONE CALLS, ASKING FOR STATS, and the UNCON
On March 20th I got a voicemail message on my home phone. It was from a PR representative asking me to blog about a religious/spiritual book. I was shocked that anyone had my home phone number to market a book. The only place I could think of that I gave my number to in relation to book blogging was BEA, but in the past I’ve only gotten junk email because of signing up. I wasn’t sure it was BEA who passed along my phone number, and when I asked on twitter if anyone else had this experience, no one replied that they had. I was half-tempted to call the PR firm back to ask where they got my number, but didn’t. I saw a post somewhere where BEA denied they gave out bloggers numbers, so I didn’t pursue it. Last month I heard more that more bloggers were getting calls, and they were told the PR firm got their number from BEA. I went to look for the post I thought I saw, I couldn’t find it. I pointed a fellow book blogger at an opt-out I saw on the BEA form I filled out. I still don’t know what to think about the phone call I got and if BEA really handed out book bloggers contact information to PR firms.

Around the same time this was going on, there was a little brouhaha because bloggers who had registered for the BEA Blogger Con got an email asking them to fill out a form for the attendees list, which also asked about their stats. I think Jessica of Read, React, Review gives a great overview of the reaction to that and the general discontent. Again, I thought there was a post in response to this issue from BEA (it may be the same one that mentions the phone calls), but I can’t find it. If anyone can confirm this, please let me know.

From the comments on twitter in March and April I saw a lot of people were having issues with registering. People who had registered as press were being rejected 2 months after they had applied. These included big name blogs. The very first BEA I went to in 2009, I went as press and had no problems whatsoever. I wasn’t asked about stats and got into BEA for free. Of course I have no problem paying for BEA and the Book Blogger Con, and I have for the past 2 years — as long as I was paying a reasonable price. I don’t like the idea of different prices for different people just because you were lucky enough to register before the announcement that the BBC was bought, or that you have a blog with some number of hits that the organizers thought was an acceptable number.

Because of my experience, I was considering the Book Blog UnCon when I found out about it. An “uncon” to my understanding is a convention where there is a free-flowing structure and attendees create the panels. This appealed to me, but after all the trouble getting registered for the BEA Blogger Con, the thought of calling Reed’s customer service again to cancel my registration made me recoil. I decided to try to forget what I’d been through and just see how the official BEA Blogger Convention was.

THE BEA BLOGGER CON ITSELF

Arrival and Breakfast
I arrived a couple minutes after 8:45am because I went to the wrong wing at first. When I arrived there were goodie bags and some books for the taking. I believe the books in the bag were by the authors who were at the author networking breakfast and lunch. This is what I got:

The breakfast was continental (muffins and bagels and some fruit). I looked at the networking list for breakfast and saw no authors from the genres I usually blog about. The closest thing was Dystopian, but I felt that YA bloggers would rather have those tables than me. They didn’t distribute the authors very well either.  Few tables had 4 authors (see table 9), some had 3, and these were grabbed early. Many tables had just 2. When I got there, I realized that there were probably over 30 tables and there were only 24 tables in the list, so many tables didn’t have authors at all. Thankfully, I was enthusiastic about meeting William Joyce because I had watched and loved his short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and it just won the Oscar for Short Film (animated) this year, so I ended up sitting at a table that he would be visiting and thoroughly enjoyed meeting him, despite the short visit. I also liked the other author who stopped by, Lee Woodruff. Even though her book sounded like it is a heart-wrencher, I appreciated hearing her thoughts about why she herself enjoys reading that type of story, even during hard times.

Also thankfully: I did manage to sit with bloggers I know (Angie and Holly), and their company saved a lot of the day for me. Holly is a blogger I talk to a lot online, but never met, I also was able to meet Jane from Dear Author, Jessica from Read, React, Review, and Elizabeth from Gossamer Obsessions for the first time, and I saw Ana and Thea from the Book Smugglers, Charlotte from Charlotte’s Library, Kate from Babbling about Books, and More, and Kristen from Fantasy Cafe. I met a few other new faces at our tables and would have liked more time just meeting other book bloggers, but this was difficult to do during the author networking.

Opening Keynote:
I think the best thing would be to have the video of Jennifer Weiner’s keynote and her Q&A here:

The text of Jennifer Weiner’s speech can be found here.

Blogging Today: What you need to know and what’s next
This was a panel moderated by Zoë Triska, Associate Books Editor of the Huffington Post. Speakers were: Erica Barmash, Senior Marketing Manager at Harper Perennial and Harper paperbacks, Patrick Brown, Community Manager of Goodreads, Jen Lancaster, author/blogger of jennsylvania.com, and Candace Levy of Beth Fish Reads.

Only one of these speakers (Candace Levy) is a book blogger, which I thought was odd. This proved to be a foreshadowing of things to come. Here’s a good set of notes about the questions and the main points taken from the answers the panel gave. My overall impression of this panel was that it didn’t feel very specific. “What you need to know” is subjective. Overall it felt like a meandering discussion that sort of had to do with what other people who weren’t necessarily book bloggers, but have blogs, thought of book blogging. I tensed a little when one of the panelists called review copies “free books” — please, can we stop calling them FREE?  The moment of the conference was when one of the panelist said that she would not want to work with a known plagiarist. I came away from this one most impressed by Patrick Brown of Goodreads, who had some of the most interesting comments (for example – advice to book bloggers to not alienate readers of their blog who aren’t book bloggers, his experience with Facebook is that people there love infographics, and Goodreads’ policy is not to allow reviews that have been paid for).

Lunch:
Lunch was another networking affair, and unfortunately we were unable to get any of the tables we wanted to sit at (here’s the list of options). The table we ended up with was one with 2 authors coming by, and one didn’t show. One was a non-fiction author (WordPress for Dummies was the book) and one was a fantasy/genre fiction author (Larry Correia) I appreciated the latter because at least he writes in a genre I read, and he actually showed up, but the rest of the lunch was awkward wait until his arrival. There was a strange mix at the table and I didn’t relate to the people there to learn about wordpress that weren’t book bloggers. I wondered if people had wandered in from the Blogworld conference because it was in the same area as the BEA Bloggers Conference.

Afternoon Breakouts
At this point we finally moved out of the room we were in and had the choice of 2 panels from 1:45 to 2:45, and then again from 3:00pm to 4:00pm

From 1:45 to 2:45 I had the choice of Critical Reviews or So You Want to Make Money? — Other than being an affiliate, I have no plans to monetize my blog, but I was curious about the money panel, so I went to that one. The moderator was Scott Fox of ClickMillionares.com, and speakers were Rita Arens, senior editor of BlogHer, Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com, Thea James, co-founder of The Book Smugglers, and Sara Pitre, blogger at Forever Young Adult. Again, the moderator was not a book blogger, and took the opportunity to promote his book (questions would be rewarded with a copy). They started off with why they monetized their blogs. Rita Arens made a good point about wanting to see more people in book blogging think about being paid for their time. Most of the panelists use Blogads, no one used Google Adsense. This had to do with being able to customize the advertising on their blogs. Thea told people to sweat the small stuff: investigate what was out there, look at your blog and choose a theme that has room for standard ads, consider the number of ads you want .  I sort of got the impression that it is difficult to make a lot more than “ramen money” (covers just the cost of running the website with a little bit more for ramen) with book blogging. When question time came by, the first to the come up was a website owner, and non-book blogger which made me again wonder if we had BlogWorld attendees wandering in. The second was another author who took a moment to self promote. I forget what her question was.

From 3:00 to 4:00 the choices were Creating Community & Driving Engagement, and Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publisher Relationship. I chose the latter. The moderator was Derek Stordahl, Global Publishing Expert and Blogger, Jenn Lawrence, blogger at Jennsbookshelves.com, Lucille Rettino, Vice President, Director of Marketing at Simon & Schuster, and Lindsey Rudnickas of NetGalley. I don’t know whether it was the length of the day or if it was because there was a panel like this in previous years, but I found myself not really paying much attention to this panel, so I sort of missed it when a panelist said that a “mature” blogger had to do more than review – they had to do other promotion on top of that, like covers and Q&As. But I did catch it on twitter since my tweetstream sort of came alive for a minute there. I did get the impression, like The Book Smugglers commented in their write up, that this panel was a what can book bloggers do for publishing — and maybe this was because there was just ONE book blogger on the panel to represent the group.

I skipped the closing keynote. I just didn’t want to hear another promotion.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
My mood shifted throughout the day. It went from cautious optimism to general disappointment.

I was OK with the author breakfast even though only 2 authors came by, and it was them promoting their book because they only had so much time with us. I was OK with Jennifer Weiner’s speech, even though she did seem to be self-promoting a lot in it. By lunch I began to feel a bit more awkward because there was more promotion. At the breakout panels, when the moderators promoted their to-be-released book and there were at most 2 bloggers in a 4 person panel (and the usual number was 1 blogger per panel), I started to get tired. When people would go up to ask “questions” and then hijacked the conversation to promote their book, it grated on my nerves.

I thought this was a book blogger conference, but there was a shocking number of people who weren’t book bloggers or who weren’t in the book industry at all. Maybe BlogWorld being nearby caused a mixup and we had people from that conference waltzing into ours, or maybe Reed thought “book blogging” and “blogging” could be mixed without issue, but I didn’t go to a Book Blogger Convention to meet someone with a blog about the environment. There didn’t seem to be a cap on the number of non-book bloggers present, which I feel affected the conference. I am very curious how many people there that day were book bloggers, how many were authors, and how many were publicists.

Hearing perspectives from other parts of the industry is one thing, but I didn’t go there to be marketed to and to be told how to be a better cheerleader for publishing.  In previous years, there were complaints about things said at panels, but at least there were panels full of book bloggers.

There is talk amongst the book bloggers about sending Reed constructive ideas for making the event better next year. I am always optimistic, and this is Reed’s first try, so I hope the event will improve. But next time, I am waiting a bit before I register. I’m going to have to see what they have planned before I come back to this conference.

Next I’ll post about BEA itself, which I had a much more positive reaction to.

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.

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.