Saturday, May 29, 2010

BEA and Book Blogger Con 2010 (or, the point of view of a total noob)

Happy weekend, fellow book lovers!  As you know, I have been in NYC for the last couple of days, attending Book Expo America and the first annual Book Blogger Convention.  As I have only been blogging for a few months now, I didn't know what to expect.  The first surprise?  Upon checking in, I was handed a PRESS PASS, which entitled me to entrance into the special "press only" area and, of course, bragging rights.  Of course, with great press pass comes great responsibility.  If you didn't get a chance to come out to the events, read on for full coverage of BEA and BBC.  I may be a total noob, but hey, let's muddle through it together!

 I couldn't get very good pictures of the whole event... it was too big!

After a 40 minute drive, a 20 minute train into New Haven, a 90 minute train into Grand Central Station, and a 15 block walk to the Javits Center, Heather and I finally arrived at the BEA, which can be summed up in two sentences:  Tons of books.  Tons of people.  My goodness, what a zoo!  This place was packed with publishers, authors, bloggers, journalists, people in colonial-period dress, an odd looking clown, a man wearing nothing but black underwear, and Tony Hawk!  It was very overwhelming, but the great part was that everyone there had the same passion for books.  Each publishing house had their own section of the massive floor.  I turned to Heather and asked "Do you think they will be able to take a debit card, or only cash?"

Oh, how naive I was.

If there's anyone out there who knows less than I do about the book world (which is unlikely, the doors to Borders was pretty much the extent of my knowledge), let me explain:  BEA isn't a big book store.  You don't buy any of the books.  The publishers give them to you.  What?  Yeah.

Each "booth" featured a slew of books, some released already, some having yet to see their final printing (ARCs, galleys, what have you).  They all hand out complimentary catalogs that feature some of their up-and-coming stuff.  Audio books, Ebooks, magazines, novels, comic books, encyclopedias, the list goes on and on.  There was simply TOO MUCH too look at in one day, which is kind of upsetting.  So, how did the BEA pan out for a Sci-Fi Guy?

Not as well as one would hope, actually.  The first thing I noticed was a stunning lack of representation of the SFF genres.  It seems the biggest sellers were non-fiction, young adult, and "literary fiction" (still trying to figure out exactly what that means...).  I got depressed pretty quickly, but then I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my views and try out different genres.  And what do you know, even this young male scifi/fantasy blogger (another demographic that was severely underrepresented this weekend) was able to find a few diamonds.  This brings us to... the Swag Bags.

Yes, you get free stuff at BEA.  Publishers bring out stacks of books for passersby to take in the hopes of a good review, and you are only limited to however much you can carry without having your arms being ripped out of their sockets.  Between the BEA and the Book Blogger Con, I collected two bags of literary "swag".  And boy are my arms killing me.  Here are some of the highlights:


Picture The Dead, by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown.  From the jacket:  "After losing her parents and her brother, falling in love with Will was Jennie Lovell's last opportunity for happiness.  But then she lost him too...  As Jennie tries to mend the pieces of her broken life, she feels an eerie presence from something otherworldly... something that won't let her leave the past behind."  Chick-lit?  Possibly.  But I am actually looking forward to this one.

Think of a Number, by John Verdon (July, 2010).  A murder mystery in which a "seemingly clairvoyant" serial killer matches wits with a retired homicide detector.  I'm looking forward to this one too.  I usually shy away from murder mysteries because they all feel the same to me, but this one seems much more interesting.

The Bucolic Plague, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell (June, 2010).  A non-fiction (What?  You're reading non-fiction Nick?  Why yes, I am) memoir about two guys who move from the city to adopt a life of farming.  The cover alone is awesome, but it really looks like an interesting story.  Go check it out!  Also, one of them is an ex-drag queen.

The Monkey Bible, by Mark Laxer (September, 2010).  Pretty excited about this one, folks.  A novel that follows a boy who is striving to discover the story of his creation and attempting to define his identity.  There is a war going on right now between creationists and those that believe in evolution, and Mark Laxer's novel tries to blur the line between the two and reconcile some of their differences.  Keep your eyes on this book!

Hellfire and Damnation, by Connie Corcoran Wilson.  A book of short stories inspired by Dante's nine circles of hell.  Ghost stories, horror stories, and the like.

The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks (preview, August, 2010).  The first novel in a trilogy about Gavin Guile, an all-powerful man who must decide what his life is worth in a land of war and shifting power.  I previously read Weeks' Night Angel trilogy, and was ultimately left with a luke-warm feeling.  But this one sounds pretty exciting.

Hull Zero Three, by Greg Bear (preview, November, 2010).  Reminiscent of The Matrix, a science fiction novel about a man who wakes up from a beautiful dream and finds himself in a hostile space station.  Unsure of who to trust or how to survive, he tries to discover who and where he is.

Choker, by Ben McCool and Ben Templesmith.  The first issue in a series of comics.  From  "Johnny 'Choker' Jackson, once one of Shotgun City's most promising police officers, is a bitter private detective with a terrible case of Alien Hand Syndrome. But he's unexpectedly been offered a job back on the force: provided he can nail a twisted drug dealer selling a very exclusive product, that is..."

So Cold the River, by Michael Koryta (audio book).  A novel about a woman who wants to discover the secrets about her late, billionaire, father-in-law.   And stuff happens, I suppose.

Feed, by Mira Grant (audio book).  We'll eat this one up folks.  It's about bloggers who discover the truth behind a virus that turns people into zombies.  Cool?  You betch'a.

 Waiting in line.  One of the sacrifices that must be made.

So!  That was my BEA experience in a nut shell.  How about Book Blogger Con?  That was a pretty unique experience also.  Around 250 other people who like to blog just like I do.  There were numerous panel discussions on topics such as "generating content" and "public responsibility" aimed at improving the blogging community at large.  I also got to meet a few awesome bloggers, including:

T. Olmsted, from BookSexyReview
Gayle, from Everyday I Write The Book
Allie, from Hist-Fic Chick

I can't wait to share all of these great-looking books with you guys!  And now it's you turn!  
  • What content would you like to see on Lions and Men?  
  • Any tips for some great books you'd like to see? 
  • What genres should I consider reading?
 And you thought I was kidding about Tony Hawk...



    1. YAY Nick! It looks like you made some great choices. Ask those publishers what books they would recommend. There is probably something in their catalog that would be perfect for you, but not just sitting there in plain sight.

    2. BEA was totally awesome! And I'm still trying to find more info about that man in just his underwear! Or at least a picture. I saw him while walking around and was a bit surprised (pleasantly though, lol). Fun recap! YA is bursting with fantasy and some sci-fi, so I hope you broaden your views and check some of those out. I see you got Picture the Dead which looks really good!

    3. Thanks for posting about BEA and sharing pictures! I was curious as to what it's like. I'm sad that sci-fi was underrepresented. Still, it looks like you snagged some interesting books.

    4. haha awww man i wish I could have gone... I had a failed vacation in DC instead. :\ oh well. next year.

    5. So glad you and Mark Laxer were able to connect at the convention. He's such a cool guy, and says the same about you. Can't wait to see what you think about The Monkey Bible. Happy to meet you last week!

      Marissa, JKSCommunications

    6. Thanks so much for the mention! It was great meeting you and Heather. By the way, I finally remembered my conversation with the lone Sci-Fi author I came across at the Book Bloggers Reception. He explained that the reason why the Sci-Fi/Fantasy guys were so scarce was because they were gearing up for Comic Con (July in San Diego, October in NYC). I guess it makes sense... Still, glad to see you didn't go home empty handed.

    7. If they give out free books at a book convention I think I might have to check out Adultcon next time around! :)
      Thanks for adding my button and I've done the same in return with yours. Will certainly be stopping by regularly.