BEA: And Then There Were Books

by Kim on May 26, 2011 · 27 comments

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BEA is about a lot of things, but one of the nerdiest and most exciting parts is all of the books. I mean, it’s ridiculous to see how many books are out there and how many fun ones there are to read. Before coming to BEA, I didn’t really understand how getting and finding books at BEA worked, so I didn’t think I’d come home with many.

I was totally wrong! I got a lot of great books in a number of ways, so I decided to list them based on how they were acquired to give you a sense of how BEA works. I’m sorry there are no pictures — I packed up all the books and mailed them without actually photographing anything!

Author Signings

One of the most common, and probably most interesting, ways to get books is through the author signings. There is an autographing area set up in the back of Javits where authors will sit for 30 or 60 minutes signing copies of their book. At other times, authors will be in booths on the show floor (at their publisher ‘s booth or something) doing signings.

I got a lot of books signed because many of the nonfiction authors I was looking at had very short lines. Some of the very popular books – celebrities, major fiction writers, anything YA and paranormal (ha!) – had very long lines, but I never waited more than about 20 minutes for any of these:

  • A More Perfect Heaven by Dava Sobel (Walker & Company)
  • What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  • Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting by W. Scott Poole
  • Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer (Harper Perennial)
  • The Smartest Woman I Know by Ilene Beckerman (Algonquin Books)
  • Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham
  • Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman (Harper Perennial)
  • You Are My Only by Beth Kephart (Egmont USA)
  • Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos (William Morrow)

Swag Bags/Promoted Books

Each year publishers have books they’re trying to promote heavily, so they have a lot of copies they’re just handing out. On the first day of BEA I grabbed a couple of titles I didn’t know much about but basically got handed when I was walking around:

  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Little Brown)
  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Illustrated by Maira Kalman (Little Brown)

I already posted about the “swag bag” books I got from Random House, but I also received a couple from Harper at the Harper Celebration of Bloggers event on Wednesday night. I gave one away because I already had it, but kept one:

  • The Beekeeper’s Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America by Hannah Nordhaus

Author Breakfast

Each morning of BEA there is a book and author breakfast that you pay a little extra for ($40, I think). It’s 90 minutes, and each of the authors at the breakfast talks about their book a little bit and, generally, there are some copies of the books available.

I signed up for one breakfast on Thursday morning, which was great. I’ll be recapping the speakers in another update post, but wanted to include the books on this list too. I now have copies or excerpts of:

  • Tension City by Jim Lehrer
  • An excerpt from Roger Ebert’s upcoming memoir, but I can’t remember the title
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
  • In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (I had an ARC of this and was reading it on the plane – really amazing so far. Possibly better than Devil in the White City, but it’s too early to say for sure.)

Chatting With Publishers on the Floor

On the big Expo floor, publishers have displays of books they are selling or that are upcoming. I’m pretty shy about just approaching people, but I found that going to publishers I recognized and saying something like, “Hi! I really read and loved X, and I wrote a review of it on my blog!” is a pretty good way to start a conversation. If the publisher is excited about bloggers, they’ll engage you in conversation. If not, they just gave me funny loo, so I browsed books before walking away.

Another way to start a conversation is just to say, “Hey! I’ve heard really good things about this book from X.” When I said that to one publisher, the marketing person told me there’s nothing that marketing people like to hear more than that you’ve heard of a book. Again, if they’re excited about bloggers, I found they’ll talk with you about books, sometimes offer to let you take ones you want, or give a contact person for how to e-mail after the show to get a copy.

Or, if you don’t know anything about the publisher, just asking, “So, what books are you most excited about?” is a great way to start chatting. Anyway, over the course of BEA, these were some of the publishers I chatted with and the books I grabbed.

Basic Books

This table was so, so nice. They were really excited about bloggers, talked a lot about the books they had coming out, and let me raid their table for some awesome finds.

  • Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle
  • Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto
  • Feathers by Thor Hanson
  • The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surrat and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln by Kate Clifford Larson
  • The Bangbang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva

Ben Bella Books

I loved one of this publishers earlier titles on The Hunger Games series, and when I mentioned that to someone – who turned out to be the editor of that particular book – we got to chatting about some upcoming titles (a book of essays on Friday Night Lights!) I’m planning to e-mail about when I get home. I did grab one book:

  • Making it Happen by Peter Sheahan

Public Affairs

This is another nonfiction publisher I’m in love with. While in a session, I noticed they tweeted about having some copies of a particular book in the booth. After the session, Amy (Amy Reads) and I ran up there and told them we saw about the book on Twitter and asked if some were available. They were really excited to hear about Twitter and told us all about some fabulous books coming up. Here’s what I grabbed:

  • Haiti: After the Earthquake by Dr. Paul Farmer
  • Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl

I’m also going to be requesting a copy of Page One: Inside the New York Times and the Future of Journalism by David Folkenflik when it comes out. SO EXCITED!

University of Minnesota Press

I had a great experience talking to a sales manager from this publisher after I told them I’d reviewed one of their titles earlier this year and loved their fall catalog. I took a couple of books with me, and got the information to e-mail about another title I was intrigued by. The loot:

  • Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Discrimination by Alondra Nelson
  • Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World by Lisa Ann Richey and Stefano Ponte

I still have at least a couple more publishers and an author signing that I want to get to later today, so I may be adding to this list before BEA is over.

I took all my books to the post office this morning and managed to ship most of them in two priority flat rate boxes. I have a few that didn’t fit that I’ll be shoving in my suitcase and carry-on for the ride home; fingers crossed those in the mail actually make it!

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