Last year was my first rodeo at this huge bookish event call Book Expo America (BEA). I was gobsmacked at the size of the building, at all the booths, the events, how organized things was- and yes, the books that were being handed out, the books that were being dropped off in certain locations for people to grab, and the authors that were signing books. It was a book lover’s paradise.
Then I got home and I noticed on social media people complaining about folks attending BEA posting pictures of their book haul and I had some friends making comments about “all those FREE books I received while I was at BEA”…
Free? Let’s delve into this further, shall we?
**Before I go any further, I’m not writing this to say BEA should change it’s practices or pricing structure- BEA, me and you are cool as ice. It’s the common misconceptions about this event that I would like to clear up**
Back to the free books….
Yes, when you walk into BEA, after getting checked in and having your badge checked- you begin to walk the floor and probably within minutes there will be a smiling face handing you a book saying “it’s the next big X book” OR “this book is something we at X publisher company are excited about”. She’s not standing there with a credit card machine or asking you to give her cash. It is free.
This will happen again and again over the days of the event. You don’t have to take the books. You can simply say “No thank you” and move on (and if you are truly not interested in potentially reading/promoting the book- you should probably say that!)
Even when you get back to the autographing section, no one is making you pay for the books there. They ask for a donation of $1 per book autographed, though- but they are not monitoring you.
So, I can see you saying- “Well sounds like a bunch of free books to me!”
Here’s where you begin to see how much “free” books cost:
1. BEA is not a free event. For book bloggers, it starts at $184.00 (and there is a host of other add-on’s you can take part in if you desire). For example, I upgraded my ticket to include the avid reader’s pass which gives you access to a set list of ticketed author signings. Did I have to add that? No. But last year there were a few authors that I was glad I did the upgrade for- and it sells out REALLY quick.
2. Travel. Some people can take trains or live in the city, so travel is not as expensive. However, I’m flying. Between airfare fees and probably luggage fees, I’m looking at over 600 bucks for the trip.
3. Hotel. BEA does partner with hotels to give a discount to people attending BEA and it does help. Getting a roommate helps further. However, it’s another cost to factor in.
4. Getting your books home. Ahh, here’s where you will start crying over those “free” books. BEA and UPS have a partnership where UPS will ship all the folks who wish to take advantage of their services their books home (for a fee, naturally!) Do you have to use them? No, you don’t. You can carry your books around, find a nearby post office and priority mail your books home. You can load your suitcase full of books. However, the convenience of the UPS site is mighty tempting and while on day 1 when your pile of books is on the smaller side- you might not think you need it. But by Day 3- you’ll be begging for it. TRUST.
5. Assorted things- food, drink, etc. Listen, NYC is not cheap. It’s just not. And when at BEA, you’ll find yourself paying for convenience. The little sandwich shop, the big bottles of water, etc- it’s all part of it.
Last year, between my share of the hotel, baggage fees, experiencing NYC, BEA ticket, and shipping my books home- it was between $2,500-$3,000. Was it worth it? 100%. I met my blogging buddy, Kristin @ Always With A Book, I met some great authors, made some new publishing contacts, and chit-chatted with some bloggers. I had a great time and I absolutely do not regret going or any of the extra costs.
And yes, I 100% absolutely made the choice of going to BEA. No one forced me. No one made me take the books offered to me. No one said to me “Use UPS or walk the plank!”
But, and let’s put it in all in perspective- last year as the mean tweets were flying back and forth about people posting the pics of their “book haul” and some people were too afraid to post their pics- a blogger that did not attend wisely stated something to this effect “that she could buy all the books she was interested in reading for less than the trip to BEA.” And she’s right. Or right-ish. If you just go to BEA for the “free” books- then you’ve missed out on a lot of the point. The point is to mix and mingle- get some face time with these publisher folks, to meet some of these bloggers you’ve been talking to on social media for years. The point is not the FREE books. The books are just the frosting on the cake.
Remember: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
On that note: 37 more days till #BEA15orBust!
Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T