BookExpo America Followup – It’s not all doom and gloom

BookExpo America 2017

The biggest problem with the recent BookExpo America news was lack of information. We were told that blogger attendance would be limited and BloggerCon was no longer happening, but key pieces of information were missing:

  • How many bloggers would be allowed?
  • What’s the criteria to get in?
  • Are book bloggers being slowly pushed out?
  • Will there come a time when book bloggers are no longer allowed at all?

We received big news with too little information, and we were left to fill in the gaps ourselves (which of course means we start imagining the worst!).

To help set the record straight, I sat down with one of my friends involved in BookExpo America and we talked about what these changes really mean.

Book bloggers are still welcome, they just want to make sure they’re… actually book bloggers.

The problem with the process right now is that there’s no accountability or confirmation.

  • Someone who’s not a blogger could sign up and say they’re a blogger.
  • Or a blogger in a totally different industry (i.e. the restaurant business) could sign up as a blogger. (Should people in totally different industries who don’t blog about anything in the book industry still be allowed? Probs not.)
  • Someone could say they’re a blogger/bookseller/librarian when buying their ticket, but not actually be one. No one was checking up on this.

The point being that no one was really checking to make sure people are who they say they are, and ensuring the industry they’re in is actually relevant to books.

That is what the folks at BEA are trying to change.

As an example, a person who blogs about food cookbooks would be welcome, but someone who blogs about reviewing restaurants probably isn’t the best fit.

After hearing the explanation, I do think it makes sense.

They did a pretty bad job of explaining it the first time around, largely because there was no explanation or extra details whatsoever. They were just like, “We’re limiting bloggers” and that’s it. Well what the hell does that mean?

But now that I’ve actually had the chance to talk with someone, I do definitely understand their goal and reasoning a lot more. It gives me hope that legitimate book bloggers will definitely still make it into BEA and be able to purchase a ticket. They’re just trying to weed out people in totally other industries, or people who say they’re bloggers/librarians/booksellers/publishers but actually aren’t.

At the end of the day, BookExpo America is a business-to-business event, and they want to really focus on making it about the book industry. It 100% makes sense to me that they want to ensure the bloggers there are actually blogging about books.

As for BloggerCon…

I am disappointed that they won’t be doing it, but I also get it. As they’ve done it in the past, it’s actually quite expensive to run. They have to pay for food, waiters, and so on, and we all know the Javits isn’t exactly cheap. That bagel and coffee may not feel like an expensive meal, but at the Javits it certainly is.

But could we do something less extravagant just for bloggers..?

We’re toying with the idea of hosting a slightly less extensive book blogger get-together—perhaps on Wednesday morning. It wouldn’t be quite as big as BloggerCon in previous years, and it would be bring-your-own-food ( πŸ˜› ), but I think it would still be a lot of fun to get book bloggers in the same place to network, chat, etc.

What do you think? Would you be interested? If so, what would tickle your fancy?

  • Would you be interested in a more “formal” event with a keynote speaker a structured panel/session or two?
  • Or perhaps do more round table discussions like we did last year?
  • Or a more laid back, free for all where we just meet up at a certain time and place to hang out and talk?

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not quite as freaked out as I once was.

The main thing I’m hoping for is quick feedback. People need to be informed of the outcome of their ‘application’ ASAP. In the past, I know some people who applied for press passes heard back as late as May. For people booking travel, that’s way too late (especially international). People need to hear a “Yes” or “No” as soon as possible so they can book travel and accommodation.

We’ll hopefully soon find out what the registration form looks like, what information they’ll ask for, a more official statement on why someone might be rejected, and what the timeline is like. Fingers crossed!

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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32 comments

  1. Thanks for the update! It does make sense to ensure that only book bloggers are allowed as opposed to all bloggers, but I had been under the impression that they were already confirming this. Hopefully, things will get sorted out soon and people can make plans!

    1. Yes I thought they were doing some kind of confirmation as well. I’m pretty sure they always asked for blog name/URL and I guess I assumed they were actually doing some kind of check on that.

  2. I’m definitely interested in meeting up in some way. I’m thinking of coming just for Friday though because of my work schedule – but, I’ll see what may be possible. Thanks for checking up on this – I did think it was strange that those of you who were involved in BloggerCon last time were not informed, at least.

    1. It would definitely have been nice to at least be informed directly from the source, rather than indirectly via a third party interview. πŸ™

  3. phew, thanks for explaining, that makes a lot of sense!
    Sad to see BloggerCon go.
    Here is my opinion, but to be fair, I have to say I can only participate next time it’s in Chicago. It’s too expensive to travel to NY.
    From my experience last year, I thought the round table discussions were very helpful. A key note, yes, but only if it’s really by a book blogger. A lot of what the key note speaker mentioned last year didn’t seem to apply.
    And I think that would be actually cool for people to bring their own food and for instance share with others on their table. It could be something fun like bringing something related to your most favorite book since last BEA.

    1. Yes I agree with you about the key notes. I’ve been to BloggerCon four times and I think they keynote was only made by a blogger ONCE. All other years it was by someone else (publisher/author/etc.) talking about blogging. In those cases it didn’t feel totally relevant. I think a lot of bloggers like to feel as if they’re surrounded by people in the community, rather than outsiders looking in.

  4. Yay! I definitely feel better after reading this. Thanks, Ashley! And thanks to your friend for helping to clear things up.

    FYI, I plan on being there this coming year, and if so, I’ll be once again hosting the BEA Book Blogger Picnic and BEA Blogger Meet and Drink, like I and a few other bloggers have done in the past. They’play just be casual events where bloggers can get together and meet each other and hang out! All book bloggers are welcome!

    1. I’m so glad you’ll be coming! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend the meet ups, but I’d certainly like to! BEA happens to fall over my mom’s birthday so every year I meet her in NYC and we celebrate. In the past the picnic has kind of conflicted with that and I have to put my mom first. πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you SO much for the update! I had hoped this was the route they’d be taking, and I agree with you wholly, it makes perfect sense! I think we have certainly seen examples in the past of people not being actual book bloggers, so I am on board with this completely- it IS a book event, after all! Like you said, I think information being clearer would have made this so much better. In fact, I don’t think a single person would have been upset with the information being presented as you’ve laid out! So thank you again, for that!

    As for events, I am game for any of the above! If I had to pick, I think I’d pick something a bit more conversational, a way for us to get together and chat- though I think a roundtable could be great too! Again, I think this is so, so great of you. It really helped to put my mind (and my friends’ minds!) at ease a bit, which everyone really appreciates! Now, hopefully we DO get quicker answers, like you mentioned. The waiting is awful, especially for travel and such!

    1. Yes I totally agree. If all this info was explained at the beginning, I don’t think there would have been any outcry. These decisions make sense—they just weren’t conveyed well at all. πŸ™ And when there are huge gaps, it’s natural for us to panic and expect the worst!

  6. Well, this definitely makes more sense. It doesn’t effect me {or is it affect?} because I don’t have plans to go to BEA, but I wish they would have waited to have the additional information when they made the announcement since so many people lost their shit.

    Hopefully you’ll get the info you need soon! And have fun!!

  7. This is why I love you. I was going to make a post basically saying the same things – people started freaking out and I was thinking, “Thank goodness, they’re finally going to limit things.” Legit bloggers won’t have an issue. But every year I meet “bloggers” who have a 1 week old blog or are considering starting a blog when they get back from BEA, but grabbed a pass as a blogger anyway because FREE BOOKS.

    No, that’s not how it works.

    I’m a bit bummed about BloggerCon, but BloggerCon was started by bloggers years before BEA acquired it and made it part of the program. I think it’s a great chance for bloggers to take back their event and make it what they want. I’m totally pro-BloggerCon. Let me know if you need help!

    1. Ugh I remember a few bad years at BloggerCon where the audience was full of people who didn’t even know what blogging was. I remember being a bit annoyed because I thought BloggerCon should be a place for bloggers to network — not for people who are like, “Hmm I wonder what this ‘blogging’ thing is.”

      It would be so cool if we could put something together! My availability is kind of iffy though since I’m actually going to NYC with my whole family and spending all the evenings with them.

      1. YES! Exactly! BloggerCon for awhile seemed to devolve into “How to Be a Book Blogger 101”. It was pointless if you’d been blogging for more than a year.

        I would love to help in any way. I don’t want BloggerCon to go away completely. But I don’t know how much of my own time I could devote to it.

  8. This makes perfect sense. Last year I also noticed some badges that were indicating the attendee was a book club organizer or member. I noticed that they are not mentioned on the site for BE 17. I organize a NYC book club with 250+ members on the roster so I’m certainly not discounting the importance of book clubs, and it seemed like it was only a handful of people, but it seems like there’s a lot of potential for a massive spike there if word really got out that any member of a book club could join. (Though last year was my first year so I’m not sure if that was ever a concern. Just an observation…)

    On another note, I’m local so if there’s a need for assistance in organizing an alternative event for bloggers, I’d be happy to help.

    On another note, I’m j

  9. Good to know. I honestly thought they were already checking to see if the people who sign up as book bloggers really are book bloggers. They do it on several European book fairs that I know. It makes sense to make sure that the people who sign up really are people who are involved in the book industry one way or the other.

  10. It’s great to hear the insider information here and get some more details. I’m interested in how the blogger status is being confirmed. From what people were saying on Twitter there seemed to be requests for phone calls to employers, which in the case of a blogger isn’t necessarily relevant. I work in marketing and got my job because of my blogging experience. But most people work at places where employers don’t even know blogging is a thing they do. But this is all heresay from Twitter so maybe the full application has some more effective ways of confirming that the bloggers are, in fact, book bloggers and not just any blogger?

    1. The registration form has fields for:

      – Current employer
      – Previous employer
      – Blog URL
      – Number of monthly unique visitors
      – Describe what you’ll be doing at BEA.
      – How you’ll use your BEA experience to influence your blog, or how it will impact your day to day duties.
      – Talk about why you want to attend BEA (what your primary motivation is).
      – List 2-3 “professional references” (names and emails)

      What’s still unclear is:

      – Are these fields JUST for book bloggers, or possibly for all registration types? (librarians, booksellers, etc.). If they are for all types, then it’s understandable how they’d use current/previous employer for librarians and booksellers, but not actually take those answers into consideration for bloggers.

      – How much weight those fields actually have on their decision. (Which fields have the MOST weight?)

      – What they’re actually doing with the information. Maybe they’re not even emailing these references.. who really knows.

      So there are still a lot of unknowns. Maybe it will become more clear when the decisions start coming in (within 20-something days of registration) and as more people register.

  11. BEA is also restricting journalists if they don’t work for the book trade journals or major media outlets.

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