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 ( 😛 ), 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!