“OH MY GOSH. HE’S HERE. TWITTER SAYS HE’S WALKING AROUND THE FLOOR. WE HAVE TO STALK HIM!” My friend shrieks, grabbing several overfull tote bags in preparation to run. To the casual observer, it may sound as if she’s just realized that she is breathing the same air as dreamy actor Ian Somerhalder or a member of the pop group One Direction. In reality, she’s about to sprint clear across the Javits Center in order to catch a glimpse of John Green, Printz Medal winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. Welcome to Book Expo America 2012.
Book Expo America is the annual publishing house/author showcase that occurs each spring at the Javits Center in New York City. The publisher booths, autographing area, and conference rooms are packed for four straight days with industry professionals, authors, librarians, book bloggers, and media contacts that are either presenting the next big thing in the publishing industry or trying to find out about it. Attendees get to hear the buzz on forthcoming titles, grab galleys of books that won’t be coming out for several months, and interact with their favorite authors in a whirlwind of activity and waiting on lines.
Publishers feature a myriad of authors–from publishing greats like The Giver author Lois Lowry and Going Bovine author Libba Bray to Hollywood celebrities-turned-authors, such as Molly Ringwald (The Breakfast Club, Secret Life of the American Teenager) and Michael Ian Black (Ed, VH1’s I Love the Insert The Decade of Your Fancy Here series)–for book/poster signings and meet and greets. For some of the most popular authors, people will started lining up over an hour and a half early, which caused some congestion problems when the signings were in booth. Some of the lines were so long they needed to be cut off–this was the case for debut author Sarah Maas’s signing, whose Throne of Glass was one of the ARCs to look out for this year.
Of particular interest this year was the Children’s Author Breakfast, hosted by Chris Colfer with speakers John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson. Chris Colfer and John Green provided for hilarious banter and great speeches about the importance of stories, while Lois Lowry gave a speech that moved many to tears and a standing ovation. I highly encourage checking out the livestream of the video here–there’s humor, wonderful things said about writing and reading, and truly heartbreaking stories to be heard.
There are also the “Buzz Panels” for each Adult, YA, and Children’s, where the editors from several different publishing houses each present one book they are particularly excited about in order to try to produce extra buzz. This year’s Buzz Panels featured books such as Kat Zhang’s upcoming YA debut What’s Left of Me and Grace Lin’s new middle grade book, Starry River of the Sky.
I went for three days, attending as a library employee. I came back with around sixty books/galleys (both signed and unsigned), four new tote bags, and a plethora of business cards from book bloggers and publishers alike. I at some point ran directly from promising Libba Bray a cross-stitched pillow that reads, “I love every book you’ve written” across the floor to the Science Fiction Writers table so I could tell Holly Black that I love her Curseworkers series so much that I own two copies of each book to lend them to others, passing up the free champagne toast for the next Lego book in the process. It was an exhausting, wonderful, crazy three days.
The best thing about attending Book Expo, in my opinion, is being surrounded by all facets of a community devoted to books and reading–from the publishers to the authors to the librarians/teachers/bloggers, they’re all trying to celebrate books. It’s a beautiful thing.
Did any of you go to BEA 2012? Did you get any books that you’re particularly excited about?