Sunday, May 12, 2013

Top Ten Helpful BEA Tips for Beginners

It's almost here! In just a few short weeks, Book Expo America will officially begin - and thousands of bibliophiles such as ourselves here at The Revolving Bookcase will be in book heaven. But, along with the sheer joy that comes from being surrounded by books for 3 days, there are also moments of frustration, anxiety, stress, exhaustion and pain that go along with it too. This will be our fourth year going, and in those years we've gotten pretty good at making the most of our days there. Here is our Top Ten List of helpful tips for BEA Beginners:

1. Wear comfortable shoes  - This is probably the #1 tip I see from people about BEA. There's a reason for this. You are standing for 7 or 8 hours in row while carrying VERY heavy books. By the end of the day, your shoulders, neck, back, legs, and feet will be killing you. They still will be killing you if you are wearing sensible shoes, but maybe they'll recover by the next morning to do it all over again.

2. Plan ahead, but go with the flow too - Our first year going, we didn't plan much other than to look at the list and say "oh, look at all the great books and authors!" Did we have a great time? Of course! But, we also learned our lesson after missing out on a bunch of great books. Now, I start checking the website about 3 months in advance for any little bit of information available so I can start my schedule planning. By the time we arrive at BEA, I have a color-coded schedule in my hand with nearly every minute planned out. I never get everything on my list, and that's okay, but I now feel like I've made the most of it all. (As an aside, this year seems to be especially frustrating in terms of planning - if you haven't gotten a copy of the full list that's available currently, send me an email and I'll try to get you a copy of the spreadsheet with both the in-booth and autographing area signings - courtesy of my sister, who might just be the most organized librarian ever, and that's saying something).

3. Bring snacks - The Javits food is mediocre-at-best and way overpriced. Plus, you have to go to a different level to get it - which takes time away from the BOOKS! We now pack some snacks like a PB&J, granola bars, fruit, trail mix, etc... along with a water bottle and maybe a juice box or two. We can snack on those while waiting in line or find a rare seat at the edge of the exhibit floor and get recharged and ready for the rest of the day. Saves time and money!

4. Arrive early - The big galley drops seem to be first thing in the am. Some of the booths will hand out totes then too. And the lines for the first signings start forming as soon as those doors open. They will put out the daily magazine before the doors open, so you can grab a copy and read (which sometimes is the only way to know about a recent add-on or schedule change - that's how we found out Jimmy Fallon would be there two years ago) while you wait for the frenzy to begin!

5. Bring business cards - It's a great way to network, enter contests, or give a publisher your address for that book you just have to have but they ran out of 5 minutes ago.

6. Have a back-up plan - So, you planned to text your friend when you are ready to meet up for lunch or you saved your only schedule on the BEA mobile app...and then your phone dies. I feel like I've lost a limb if I don't have my phone, so after it running out of battery power 3 hours in the first year, I've since brought backup. There are some nifty little portable battery chargers available for pretty much any type of phone or device. I have one for my phone/nook/kindle, and another for my iPad/iPod (yes, I'm a device-hoarder). I charge them the night before, and then when my phone starts dying, I plug it in and it charges while I go about my business. They have different sizes and charging capacities, but this is similar to the one that I have and when fully-charged it will charge my phone (a droid razr) about one and a half times.

7. Bring a rolling suitcase - and then check it in the coat/bag check area when you first get in. When you find your shoulders and back just can't take any more weight or you have 10 minutes before the next signing, you go back to the checking station and unload all your goodies, and you're ready for round two! Plus, it makes it much easier to take back to the hotel or your car when it's on wheels.

8. Interact - You will be standing on lines for the majority of the time you are there. It goes much faster if you have people to talk to - and if you make friends, they might just hold your spot for you while you run to the bathroom or go grab a book in a nearby galley drop.

9. Don't take it all too seriously. Of course this means have fun, but it also means, don't let people who grab two copies of a book or who cut in line or push you without apologizing ruin your day. There are going to be rude, cranky people - all you can do is try not to be one of them!

10. If at all possible, take the next day off - Your sore muscles won't want to move and you'll want the time to read all the great books you just got!

Feel free to comment with any questions and say hi if you see us there! Can't wait! 


  1. Hi! I am a teen and therefore to young to go BEA, but it is my dream and I have spent hours reading tips and tricks (and saving them to my desktop) so when I finally go, I am 100% prepared!

    Great post! I can't wait to be 18...

    Bloglovin and GFC Follower :)

    1. Hi Emily!
      I'm glad you enjoyed the post - it's awesome that you are planning already! Check back in June because we're going to be giving away some awesome books we pick up there - and maybe some from last year too - and I'm sure we'll see you there someday!