Saturday, June 15, 2013
BEA 2013, Day Four and Five
I arrived at the Javits on Friday morning to read the news that Jim Carrey - yes, the Jim Carrey - would be dropping by the Book Expo on Friday and Saturday to sign copies of his self-published metaphysical children's book about a sentient ocean wave - unticketed. I could only imagine what sort of madness would result from that and I calmed myself with a cup of peppermint tea and a friendly chat with the awesome NYStacey, a bookseller I'd met back at my last RWA Conference in 2011.
After that, it was off to stand in line for Elizabeth Wein's Rose Under Fire. One thing the majority of previous BEA attendees forget to tell you is that for all the time we spend buzzing through the booths of the Big Six like a swarm of locusts in practical flats, we spend just as much time languishing in line for those one or two books we really want.
And I stood in a lot of lines on Friday. First for the Elizabeth Wein's companion novel to Code Name Verity, and then for the excruciatingly long queue for Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl at the Macmillan pavilion. The line for Wein was pretty extensive, but not as extensive as Rowell's. Babies were born in that line. Presidencies came and went. Organisms evolved. Thanks to a young, tall, put-together blogger I met in line, I had time to sneak out and gush over Lauren Myracle and pick up a copy of The Infinite Moment of Us at the Abrams/Amulet pavilion just next door.
This very put-together blogger (whose name, naturally, I forgot) threw me for a loop in that same line when I asked what courses she was taking in university.
"Oh, I'm thirteen," she said.
Jaw drop. Seriously, someone should have called Chris Hansen and had him set a security detail on her house because she did not look thirteen at all. She was taller than I was!
"But I've been blogging since I was eleven!" she added. Not better. The new generation of bloggers was definitely on the rise and they were starting way earlier than I was. Holy crap, she was born in the year 2000!
Finally, after crawling around the Macmillan booth about six times in line to receive my copy of Fangirl, I was too tired to do much of anything. A quick look at the queue for Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland convinced me it wasn't worth it and there was no way I was lining up two hours in advance to snag a copy of Jim Carrey's self-published masterwork (although I did swing by to catch a brief glimpse of him in profile and the back of his head).
So I slogged back to the hotel, dragging my loot of books through the humid, horse-shit-scented fug, praying that I wouldn't catch hoof and mouth disease from whatever I was wheeling my suitcase through when I passed the stables. After a half-hour of rest, reading the first of my BEA swag (Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, generously gifted to me by a Scholastics rep during the Blogger Con Happy Hour), I packed up and left to do my one bit of sightseeing on this trip - the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space museum.
It was a quick walk from the hotel that felt longer thanks to the broiling heat. Once inside, the ship was pleasantly air-conditioned, and was full of excellent displays of shipboard conditions, maritime history, military history, airplanes, boats, space shuttles, as well as games and replicas for people to play with (including a flight simulator). I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I felt extremely weepy while aboard the Intrepid. My dad is a huge fan of military history. He has a shelf of his favourite war movies and can identify military aircraft on sight. The whole place really reminded me of him and I wished he'd been there to see it. He would have gone nuts in that place.
I should probably admit at this point that my father is not dead or anywhere near that condition. I just really missed him at the moment and wished we could have discovered that museum together.
After the museum, I freshened up a bit and went out to hail a cab to take me to the Farrar, Straus, and Giroux reception, forgetting in my Canadian ignorance that it was Friday afternoon at rush hour in Manhattan. I waved my cute little hand and did a little "Notice me! Notice me!" dance on the curb of 38th and 8th for close to an hour with no luck. I've noticed that other bloggers have made similar suggestions that publishers should organize their parties and get-togethers closer to the Javits because, well, getting a cab at five o'clock at night is a difficult task for everyone. SimonTeen had their party within walking distance and it was both convenient and a good time.
One hour later (!) I'd given up making it to that reception. I finally flagged down a cab after I wandered back down to the deserted Javits Center and decided to go to the Blogger Picnic at Central Park instead. I've never been able to resist visiting New York without seeing Central Park at least once, and it was lovely at dusk. The humidity soaked into the leaves and infused the whole place with that lovely crushed green scent that normally accompanies rain. It was a small gathering but one with a lot of discussion.
At around eight o'clock, the party broke up because their permit ran out, and while a bunch of them headed out to continue their party at a nearby pub, I decided to call it quits. I was tired. I was still hungry. And my check-out time was ten am the next day and I hadn't packed my bags yet.
Day Five: Saturday
Saturday was a day that Emily and I had to organize a little differently - mainly, because although this was our last day in New York and our hotel's check-out time was ten a.m., neither of us was actually leaving until much later in the afternoon. My flight home wasn't until six o'clock and Emily's ride wasn't until the afternoon.
While the hotel watched our bags, we headed back to the Javits for one last hurrah. One last glance to see if there were any ARCs worth snagging. One last opportunity to talk to and interview people in the publishing industry (I did have the chance to speak to Canadian publishers - people at House of Anansi Press, Coachhouse Press, Tunda/Random House Canada).
And one last morning to peoplewatch the publishing industry - the clusters of laughing, triumphant librarians in sensible shoes and floral print tops; the glassy-eyed Power Readers drooping beneath the weight of too many tote bags; and the publicists in gauzy, candy-coloured sleeveless dresses and chunky jewellery who picked their way across the inconsistently-carpeted expo floor in dainty high-heeled sandals as if they'd been beamed down from some interstellar nightclub.
I stepped into the ouroborosesque line for Harlequin's gigantic Teen Reads signing (which included Katie McGarry with Dare You To and Elizabeth Scott with Heart Beat) and just as quickly stepped out of it again - which turned out to have been a wise choice - I found out later they'd run out of books before they ran out of line.
I did indulge one bit of foolishness - on my way out of the Javits, I noticed Jim Carrey's line was swiftly coming to an end. Seeing an opportunity, I latched on to the end of the line and after ten minutes, I scored the chance to meet him face to face, take an extremely blurry picture with him, and score a poster of his book with my name spelled "Elizebeth" on it in black sharpie above his autograph. Not bad, and I didn't have to wait two hours for it!
After that, I bid farewell to Book Expo and all of its crazy madness and returned to the Javitz. Emily's awesome friend Mario turned up to drive them both to Long Island but he found a way to wedge both my suitcases into his Jeep and drop me off at Penn Station. I bid a very fond farewell to Emily with the promise to keep in touch.
The return trip to my hometown was a significantly trickier deal than the trip out to NYC - especially now that I was lugging two suitcases, one of which was stuffed entirely with ARCs. The ordeal began at Penn Station, where I took a two-minute masterclass in Loading Two Wheeled Suitcases Onto a Narrow Escalator By Myself that I promptly failed.
I dragged those precious suitcases through several elevators and onto an underground platform that felt as hot and humid as the inside of a mouth, to the NJ Transit Train, then onto the Newark Airport Airtrain, then through US security and - once I reached Calgary - through Customs before boarding yet another airplane.
Remember how in my BEA Guide I mentioned that you should be choosy about taking ARCs since they aren't really free in the long run? This is what I meant. I may not have paid for them with money, but I did pay for them in the sheer physical effort and inconvenience involved in hauling them across international borders. My shoulder muscles alone are still paying interest. That being said, my decision to bring them back in my luggage proved to be the wiser choice - one blogger paid USPS to ship her swag home and received a series of late, dented, and half-empty packages instead!
But that was my trip to Book Expo America 2013! I had some amazing experiences, learned some new things, took home some great books, met a celebrity and made at least one Super Amazing Awesome Friend! There really is a lot to be had from going to Book Expo America, and the swag is the least of it. While I may not be going next year, if you are a book blogger or a librarian or a bookseller, I recommend going at least once. It offers a fascinating window into how our gorgeous literary sausages get made.