There are very few things that I plan far in advance and look forward to all year long (besides Christmas and Chinese New Year, that is) and one of them is Book Expo/BookCon. A convention completely dedicated to the love and appreciation of books? Surrounded by publishers, authors, and books? I love it. It’s pretty much the place I would want to be 365 days a year. I believe that earlier last year, ReedPop and Book Expo made an announcement that their selection process for bloggers would be narrowed down so that publishers could better concentrate on forging relationships with industry professionals like booksellers and librarians. I know that this announcement put a lot of potential attendees off (that and a huge sum of $300 to attend) which is understandable. I was concerned that because BookCon was being hyped up and beefed up with lots of high-profile guests that BookExpo would be lackluster.
Neither of us decided to attend Wednesday because there was a lot to do before we would go on Thursday. And to be honest, I think we needed to prepare ourselves for what was about to go down go down during Book Expo. For the most part, we wanted to spend our time on the show floor since that’s where a lot of the fun is for the both of us. So in the early morn of June 1st, we got up at 4:30 and were on a train by 5:30AM to make it over so we could pick up our badges since we didn’t do it the night before. It was also our aim to score tickets to Cora Carmack, Leigh Bardugo, and Maggie Stiefvater. While we were waiting in line, we made a few friends and saw some old ones, which I think is what is so great about being in the book world – you can easily align your interests and create friendships around books. It’s something we all have in common. Unfortunately, it seemed that with the Avid Reader Pass Program and others who seemed to be there since 3/4AM, Leigh Bardugo tickets were long gone. I’d been disappointed because I was dying to get my hands on THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS sampler which, yes I know – why am I so fussy over a sampler? Well, even as a sampler, it’s beautiful. Plus, I’d read that she might be giving our her SIX OF CROWS playing cards which is probably one of my biggest searches for.
We obviously navigated our way through the show floor since the layout was different than other years and grabbed all the totes (my one goal was to score the SHE PERSISTED tote from Penguin Random House in support of Chelsea Clinton that weekend) before going over to Maggie’s signing area. I have to say that I haven’t read any of her previous books. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about both her SHIVER and RAVEN CYCLE series and I just don’t like delving into books that are really volatile. But ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS seemed so interesting and we had a ticket for it, so why not? After that, we just roamed the show floor to see what all the booths had to offer and we both had the consensus that Book Expo was very low key and relaxing for the most part. I know that so many were discouraged from coming, but it made the experience for those that did more pleasurable. Yeah, there were a lot of people, but we had no major mishaps.
By the end of the day, the pair of us got most of the books we wanted (with Kristen’s wonderful schedule and timing skills) and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got back home. I was determined to be selective about the books I brought home because when we first attended the convention, I made the mistake of grabbing anything and having no room for most of the things I didn’t care for – so I wasn’t as tired as Kristen was (whom had gotten a lot of books she wanted).
The highlights of Thursday were meeting Cora Carmack and Leigh Bardugo (I know! I got to meet her!). I was delighted to see a finished copy of Cora Carmack’s ROAR which I had the opportunity to read as an ARC. It is a beautiful, beautiful book in my opinion and definitely has a unique and fresh take on fantasy stories. I will be posting my review soon for it so be on the lookout! Plus, she was such a delightful person to talk to and just overall lovely (pretty much all the authors we met were lovely).
So by happenstance, I got to meet Leigh in the Autographing Area and my goodness, her hair color was gorgeous. I’ve met very few people who could pull off the dark gray/silver look and my gosh, can that woman pull it off. She was surrounded by her Macmillan team and they were all rather kind. I was not there to get THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS because Fiercereads was promoting Grishaverse in the Crystal Palace for most of the convention so they had copies there for the taking! I had read that her book had won the Teen Choice Book Award and had wanted to congratulate her on that. Leigh Barduo never ceases to impress me with her humility and surprise over these sorts of achievements. I did bring my French SIX OF CROWS in the hopes that she would sign it (which she obviously did because she’s just so dang kind).
Day one of Book Expo was a success to say in the least. We had decided to approach Friday with less of a plan, but we definitely had our list of things we wanted, but didn’t necessarily NEED if we couldn’t get them. Fortunately, the ones we wanted (WARCROSS and BEASTS MADE OF NIGHT), we received previously. In terms of ticketed authors, we wanted to aim for Colleen Hoover and Marissa Meyer. I knew that if we didn’t get Marissa Meyer, it wasn’t a huge ordeal since it was a sampler and RENEGADES will be out within a few months. Nevertheless, I would have loved to say hello to Marissa once more. We managed to snag Colleen Hoover and Neil Patrick Harris (which we later gave away because it was later in the day and we just couldn’t fathom staying much longer after little sleep and 12K steps) so it was another day to the show floor for us! What I really loved was watching the interaction between attendees and the exhibitors – particularly the contrast between the smaller and big five publishers. It’s obviously a stark difference, but at the same time – it’s nice to think about how the big five were small once and look where they are now.
As every book dragon does, we snagged the books that we’d been hoping to get on ourlist (though, not the end of the world if we didn’t) and the biggest (and most competitive) event of the day was Leigh Bardugo’s WARBRINGER from Random House. We were
rather guilty of hovering around the pillars near Penguin Random House, but the one good thing about Book Expo was that the attendees seemed to get along much better and there was very little hostility, if any at all. Somehow, against all odds, those who wanted WARBRINGER banded together to create a pretty calm and collective line. There were people in line, wonderful people, who understood the fairness of who had been there the longest and wanted to keep order. In this line, I saw some really great compassion and organization spring out from nearly everyone. Once the signing started, it went by quickly and everyone seemed relatively happy. We were rather happy to be part of such a collective group that showed that type of maturity. I imagine that if Book Expo hadn’t decided to screen its attendees this year, it would have been a different story.
When Friday and Book Expo came to a close, I was sad, but excited because BookCon would be starting the next day. Out of my bounty from Book Expo, I think I was really looking forward to:
- Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen (Bloomsbury)
- Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (Random House)
- Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (Harlequin)
- Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Macmillan)
- Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Hachette)
- The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Hachette)
- All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
- This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (Simon & Schuster)
- Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast (Simon & Schuster)
- And had we not gotten them before the convention:
To be honest, there were a lot of books and that meant a lot of blurs, but nevertheless, everyone seemed to find something they really wanted at Book Expo.
One regret I do have is being unable to start relationships with publishers. I love going to these things because it means meeting the writers who have built such wonderful words, but in hindsight, I lose the opportunity to meet with the professional book pushers themselves. I really admire them for all that they do for their authors (include surviving BookCon) and know that I should really set some time aside to talk with them and just stay in touch. I, myself, am somewhat socially awkward at times and never want to bother professionals when they’re actually working, but it’s always nice to see that they’re open to chatting with people if they wish to do so.
Book Expo…to say in the least, was just so…chill? Sure, there were times where anxieties were heightened and patience was on edge, but overall, there’s nothing stopping me from wanting to attend next year. It seemed like there was a lot of more space and walking space which was nice. I do feel like the shift in where the booths usually were threw me off and therefore, I seemed to visit them less than I would have liked (this was more so about HarperCollins…they just seemed so far away from everyone else!). My experience with ReedPop events have always been good and I love that they host them at the Jacob Javits Center (which is a BEAUTIFUL location).
So I’d have to say that Book Expo 2017…you were a success. Let’s make 2018 a good one, too!