A few days ago, Publishers Weekly did a piece on a new direction for BookExpo America. In that article was this juicy snippet:
According to McDonald, the focus will be on drawing more book buyers, including booksellers, librarians, and buyers from a range of specialty retailers. Through a more rigorous application process, Reed will limit the numbers of bloggers, independent authors, and consultants. “We are not trying to be exclusionary,” McDonald said. “We are trying to ensure that we have the people in the aisles that our exhibitors want to meet with.”
And this one:
In other efforts to better focus the show, Reed has decided to not hold the conferences that had run in conjunction with BEA, such as the Book Bloggers and IDPF events
So far, no word has been given on how many bloggers will be allowed to attend, or what the criteria will be.
But to me, ditching the Book Blogger Conference and limiting bloggers suggests one big thing: they want book bloggers out. This makes me wonder what the future of BEA will be long term. If they want to focus on business deals with booksellers, librarians, etc. will they start cutting back on author signings too?
How many people will lose money because of this?
First and foremost, I’ve already booked my plane ticket for BookExpo (America) 2017. I also know several other bloggers who have also booked plane tickets and/or hotels. How many of us will now not be able to get a BEA pass?
This was a huge bomb to drop with not enough notice. Sure, seven months may not seem that bad on paper, but when you consider how long bloggers have been welcome and how many people need to book travel far in advance to get decent rates, it’s not enough time. If they want to change BEA, that sucks, but it’s ultimately their business. But the least they could do was announce now that it would be going into effect in 2018.
No, it’s not about the ARCs
I’m not upset about this change because of the “free” books I’ll miss out on. Far from it. After you consider the price of an international flight ($1k right there) plus a hotel in New York City, I’m in the red big time. I don’t spend all this money to get a bunch of “free” books before their publication date.
I do it because:
- For me, BEA has been a huge community event each year. It’s my time to meet my fellow book bloggers in person.
- I loved Blogger Con to network with other bloggers and meet awesome new people in a more relaxed environment (compared to the hectic BEA floor).
- I get to meet new authors and see some old faces.
- It’s fun and exciting to walk the aisles and find new and exciting books you may not have otherwise found.
- It’s cool to talk to publishers and find out which books they’re excited about.
Most of the year, book blogging is a totally online space. Meet people online, talk to people online, write online… It’s all online.
But BEA brings that entire community into the “real world”. That’s what I’ll miss.
“Well, there’s BookCon!”
I definitely get the impression they’re trying to nudge book bloggers into BookCon. While I understand the reason for that, it’s not one I can personally buy into.
I went to BookCon the first year and since then I’ve skipped out but looked at the photos every year. BEA itself is pretty hectic, but BookCon is hectic x 1 million. The HUGE, OVERWHELMING crowds are not something I’m interested in braving. I did it once and I had to turn around and immediately leave. It was just a disgusting, panic-inducing sea of people. The photos I’ve looked at since confirm that nothing has changed in that regard (though perhaps the chaos is slightly more organized, but ultimately it’s still chaos).
And sure, BEA has some big lines, but the BookCon lines are again that times a million. It doesn’t even sound fun to me to drop thousands of dollars to get to NYC just so I can wait in even bigger lines… no thanks.
I guess what I’m saying is: I no longer feel like book bloggers have a home.
- BEA was fabulous, but if we’re being pushed out or limited… Perhaps it will no longer be like it once was.
- BookCon isn’t for me. It’s just too big, overwhelming, and crowded.
- There’s ALA, which I’ve never attended, but each year I watch the drama unfold where some people like to put emphasis on the “librarian” part of the name (in other words, “book bloggers GTFO!”). Not everyone does this of course, but there seems to be drama about it every year.
I know there are a few other events, but the above three always felt like the big ones. Although I’m open to attending other events, I need to know that there will be plenty of “my people” there in order to make it worthwhile for me. I hope that doesn’t make me sound bratty, but I live in the UK and if I’m going to drop $1k+ to attend a US event, I want to be surrounded by a hoard (but not “BookCon hoard” levels) of my book blogging/Twitter friends. I’m not interested in flying all the way over there just to feel lost and alone.
Time will tell how drastic these changes are.
BEA17 will let us know how severely they’ll be limiting bloggers.
BEA18 will possibly tell us how much more of the event they’re looking to change (author signings?).
It saddens me a lot to think that BEA16 could have possibly been my last one without me even realizing it.