Saturday, June 25, 2016

Recap: BEA + BookCon 2016

Hi, everyone! At the title of this post implies, I'm finally doing my BookExpo America and BookCon 2016 recap post! This year, BEA and BookCon were in Chicago rather than New York City and were earlier in the month than usual. This presented many problems for myself and my co-bloggers - NYC is less than an hour from where I live via the train, and with the date change, it was very close to when we were all taking finals. Traveling to Chicago instead made BEA more of a vacation than several day trips into the city.

BEA Day One

I actually had to take a final exam the day before BEA Day One, so I ended up taking an early flight that morning - I woke up at 4 a.m. and I was not a happy camper. I had been so tired from working on final projects, taking final exams, and planning for BEA, so it was a bit of a struggle - but I was headed to BEA, one of my favorite parts of the year.

Once I got there, I headed to the hotel for a little while before meeting my mom at the convention center. It was a strange feeling to get there because I'm so used to being able to walk a few blocks to Javits from Penn Station and then knowing how to get around the building. McCormick Place wasn't so different from Javits - it definitely had a similar look - but it took a second to get my bearings and figure out where I needed to go.

The layout of the show floor wasn't much different from the layout in New York - I had actually looked over the map beforehand, so I had a decent understanding of where things were - and it looked so much like Javits once we entered.

The biggest difference between BEA in Chicago and New York is that Chicago definitely had a calmer vibe from most of the people there. There were definitely less people on the show floor, and I couldn't help but notice that the people generally walked a lot slower than in New York, especially since I tend to be a pretty destination-oriented walker at BEA.

Day One ended up being a really successful day for books! I decided not to go to the Blogger's Conference this year because I had to fly into Chicago that morning, but I managed to make it to a ton of drops, particularly at HarperCollins.

BEA Day Two

It was nice going into Day Two because I was familiar with the show floor, and I had a more clear picture of what books I needed to get that day. Since I had gotten most of the Harper drops on Day One, I only had to make it to the very first one that morning to get Replica and some other gems.

The most intense part of this day was definitely getting signing tickets for Macmillan, also known as the MacMob (possibly only to me, but I will continue to use this name for this event because it is Accurate). If you've never been to BEA, the thing you have to understand about people is that they will wait hours to get a book they really want. Unfortunately, the location of Macmillan's booth didn't really allow for accommodating a line for hours before they handed out signing tickets. The tickets up for grabs were for some highly anticipated books: You Know Me Well, Vassa in the Night, 738 Days, and, arguably the biggest attraction for people, Heartless. I really wanted to get all of these books, so I was there pretty early, just "hanging out" until they started the line. Unfortunately, instead of just starting an official line early, a mob formed. It was chaos. There were 3 "lines", going in all different directions, blocking other books and the entire walkway near Macmillan's booth. People were getting so edgy and it was just all around Bad.
At the MacMob

I really think there should be "I Survived the MacMob at BEA 2016" t-shirts. It really did feel like an accomplishment. And not everyone survived. I mean, no one died, but the faint of heart gave up once the stampede began.

You might be wondering what I mean by stampede. Well, when Macmillan eventually made the official line (it was well over two hours after people started lining up), it was a stampede. Somehow, I ended up at the very front of that line - I'm still not entirely sure how that happened. At this point, I was super excited - I would get All The Books! Haha, no. Because of Fairness, everyone could only get up to two signing tickets. I'd like to just put in right here that I totally respected the rule, I just wish I had known earlier because I would have had my mother on line with me. So at this point, I had to make some Choices about which books I wanted to get. Given that Heartless was going to be available again on Day Three, I figured I could just get it then, so I opted for Vassa in the Night and You Know Me Well, which my mom really wanted to get because she wanted to see David Levithan. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about just getting a third ticket for Heartless as well, but knowing how there were people in line who probably wouldn't get any tickets, I decided to opt for good karma. This was the start of my path to not getting Heartless at BEA.

Overall, Day Two was super successful - by the end of it, I had very few books I still needed to pick up on Day Three.

BEA Day Three

Now, I shall continue my path to not getting Heartless at BEA. In New York, the WLABBers always went early to Javits to get on the line for autograph area signing tickets, and we always got the tickets we wanted. So I went early (granted, not as early as other people because we were relying on the BEA shuttle from the hotel) and got on the line. Little did I know, they, evidently, only had three Heartless tickets to give out. Three. It was extremely frustrating, especially because they always had way more to give out the day of the event in New York.

So Day Three was off to a disappointing start, but the rest of the day was very calm. I found myself just hanging out and wandering around most of the time, which was pretty nice. Most of my day was actually spent waiting on line for the Gemina drop at Penguin Random House.

On a side note, I'd like to take a moment to praise Penguin Random House - out of all the publishers at BEA this year, they definitely had the best set up and location to manage lines. They had a wonderful system going on. It was amazing.

Anyway, the Gemina line started about 3-4 hours ahead of time, but it was so calm. Everyone was just sitting down, hanging out, being calm. It was so refreshing in comparison to some of the other lines I had waited on the other days. I think it was partially due to how much space there was for us to have our line, but people were also a lot more calm since it was the end of the last day of BEA.

All in all, BEA 2016 was a success - I got almost every thing I wanted (insert sobs about Heartless here), and I had a great time!


As always, BookCon was more disorganized than BEA. When I got to the convention center, there was a line wrapped throughout the entire convention center. Having purchased VIP passes, we were confused about there only being one line. Apparently, you had to wait on the line to get your bag checked so that you could get autographing wristbands. I was not about that. So we just chilled in the general area of the entrance to the show floor, and ended up in the VIP first access line.

From there, we headed over to the First in Line Red Carpet event because why not. After that, we mostly just went to panels, which was a lot of fun.

The first panel was with Melissa de la Cruz, Sabaa Tahir, Lauren Oliver, and Veronica Roth. It was weird at first because it was past when the panel should have started but the authors weren't coming out yet. Then, I saw on Twitter that Lauren Oliver's Uber driver actually got lost and couldn't find the convention center. Once she got there, the panel was really cool and all about good and evil in books.

Some other panels we went to were Friendship is Magic with Sarah J. Maas, Alexandra Bracken, Susan Dennard, and Victoria Aveyard, Reality Bites with David Levithan, Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, David Arnold, and John Corey Whaley, and The Simon & Schuster Sisters with Siobhan Vivian, Jenny Han, and Morgan Matson.

The last, and most fun, panel we went to was #IReadYA Presents Book Besties with Maggie Stiefvater, Jeffery Self, Aimee Friedman, and Francisco X. Stork, moderated by David Levithan. Maggie Stiefvater is just so fun, and David Levithan did an amazing job of steering all the conversations in exciting directions, which is something some of the other panels missed due to lack of a moderator.

Overall, I was disappointed by BookCon in Chicago. Not only was it one day instead of two, it felt like there weren't as many big things to go to this year as in the past. Additionally, I was very disappointed by the "privileges" of the VIP pass - it kind of felt like I paid way more than everyone else for no reason. It was still fun, but I'm happy BEA and BookCon will be back in New York in 2017!

Sloth's Adventures

You were wondering about the lack of Sloth above, weren't you? Well, here are some of the fun photos Sloth took while adventuring at BEA and BookCon!

If you want to check out more of Sloth's adventures, you can follow him on Twitter: @SlothGoesPlaces!

- Kiersten

Did you go to BEA or BookCon this year?
Let us know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these reviews about BEA + BookCon 2016. I am a huge fan of such book fests. It was amazing to read about this one. I will be attending a BookCon next month at Seattle convention center. Really excited to attend it.