I had the great fortune of being able to go to Book Expo America (BEA) this year, since it was held in Chicago, which is only a train ride away for me. Since it is usually in NYC, I had not even considered it an option in the past. Since it is moving there again next year, I might need to try to save money! I guess that means I had a good time! Though I am thoroughly exhausted and am not sure how long it will take me to recover, I am so glad I went to both BEA and BookCon. For the next few posts, I will be covering my different days there and filling you in on my experience.
Day 1, Wednesday, May 11:
My day started at 1:30 am, leaving to drive over to Carbondale, IL to catch the 3:15 am train to Chicago Union Station. I have taken this train before to Chicago and it is a pretty good experience. It is the train that runs from New Orleans, and it is a comfortable car. You have plenty of room to stretch out, they do their best to keep you in a pair of seats by yourself, and they keep the lights turned down for sleeping. Unfortunately, I got stuck sitting across from a big man who took full advantage of sleeping (and snoring loudly!) for the whole 6-hour ride. I think he forgot where he was, he kept letting his phone ring without answering it, and even had the nerve to fart, yes FART, when he woke in the morning. Seriously?! You are in public, dude!
Anyway, I arrived in Chicago right at 9:00 am and took my first Uber ride–thanks, Mildred!–to the Convention Center and hotel. I was kind of terrified of Uber, mostly because I was afraid I would have to make awkward conversation…that’s the kind of thing that scares me, haha, but it was a fine experience. I was able to check into the hotel early and had a nice conversation about my hometown in Southeast Missouri with the lady working the front desk. She drives through pretty often to visit family and was asking me about places to stay and things to do. From there, I unpacked and headed down to the convention center to explore before it officially opened.
For the first day, the show floor was only open for the afternoon and there wasn’t as much going on as far as author visits, but there were a few I wanted to meet. While standing in my first line of many waiting for the showfloor to open, I met a few other bloggers and chatted with them a bit. (Shout-out to Nikki at Take Me Away blog, Amber at Du Livre, and Jessica at A Great Read) Once the floor opened, the chaos began. I quickly learned what to try and pick up and what to not touch…trust me, those publishers are on the ball! In some situations, it was hard to tell what was on display and what was being given away (talking to you, Harlequin!), so I got scolded a few times.
First stop after doing some exploring, was the line to meet and get See Me signed by Nicholas Sparks. This was exciting as a fan of his books, but I have to admit he was the only one the whole time that didn’t give you the opportunity to get your book personalized, which was a bit disappointing. I met some fun people in that line that I ran into a few more times. I left their cards at home today, so I will have to see if I can share their info on my next post. Anyway, here I am with Nicholas Sparks.
Next up, I headed over to the line to get a copy of Unashamed by Lecrae, hoping that I can find one of my high school students that this book would have a healthy impact on. We also have classes that read memoirs/biographies for their curriculum, so I am always looking for ones that will interest my students. Lecrae is performing at my town’s fair this year as the headliner, so it will mean even more. He and his publisher were even nice enough to ask me to come back at the end of his signing and they gave me another copy that he signed to the high school library.
Scott McCreery was next, since I watched him while on American Idol and have a friend who is a fan now. I had this copy signed to my friend, but was able to snag another copy a different day to add to the one we already ordered for my school library. Again, I am always looking for memoirs/biographies that will be of interest.
So, by this point, I was already exhausted, and knew it was going to be a tiring couple of days, but I was already excited about my finds. This picture shows all the things I was able to get on Day 1…knowing that was only a half day’s worth of things, I was pumped for Day 2. There are some good ones in here that I am excited about, including a new one by Room author Emma Donoghue.
Exciting stuff, huh? Keep watching for posts from Days 2 & 3, as well as my day at BookCon.