The Real Life Guide to BEA

/ posted in: Reading

Be A Rebel

Some people get there hours early to get in line to get into the exhibit area first.  Bless them.  Remember that they open all the entrances, not just the one where the line is.  I strolled in 10 minutes before opening with the drink I got from the Starbucks around the corner from the one with the huge line near the show floor.  Yeah, there was a second one.  Then when the gigantic line started moving, I walked in too without waiting in line at all because the entry was 30 feet wide and they were letting people in from the line on the left 5 feet of it.  The right side was wide open for anyone.

Be Decidedly Uncool

I am naturally uncool so this is not a conscious decision for me.  Some people want to see the big name authors.  They don’t mind waiting for 1-2 hours in a line to see the High Priestess of YA or other famous folk.  I figure that the books that they are promoting are going to get a lot of promotion anyway.  You’re going to see those on displays in the library and on your favorite blogs.  I’d rather spend the time finding out about books that I would never hear about otherwise.

Go See Lonely People

This fits in with being uncool.  I went in with a plan that looked something like this:

  • 2:00 signing of this book.
  • Also at 2:00 is this signing which might be cool if I could get there.

I’d heard that all the lines were huge so I didn’t figure I’d see both.  Here’s how it went down though.  Since I wasn’t seeing the big name authors, I’d be about 5th in line for the first one when I showed up at 5 minutes to 2.  I’d get it signed at about 2:07 and then head over to the second one I had listed and get that book by about 2:15.  Now what?  The next thing on my schedule is at 3:00.  I would look to see what lines were short and then see what books they had.  I’d hop in those lines if they seemed interesting.  Not going to lie – I went in one line because they were giving out chocolate.

Pace Up and Down the Aisles

I wandered up and down the aisles over and over.  I had about 15,000 steps just in the exhibit hall each day.  Since over half of the booths are giving out books and the books that are being given away change every few hours in many of them, just walking through exposes you to new books all the time.

Don’t stick to just the big publishing houses either.  Some of the books that I’m most excited about come from small houses who had little booths outside of the orbit of the big guys.

Stretch

Seriously.  I can walk all day normally with no problems.  I lift weights for fun.  Spending 9-4 walking around here carrying books killed me.  When I woke up Friday morning, everything hurt.  My shoulders, my hips, my left calf, my left bicep.  I’ve been doing all my favorite yoga moves since I got home to try to get everything lined up again.

Snacks

I was carrying a water bottle, protein bars, and hard candy.  I never ate the bars.  I had plenty of time in my schedule to grab lunch.  There was a food court in McCormick that had a vegan’s dream  – a salad bar that was a flat fee per plate instead of being based on weight.  I loaded up all the heavy vegetables and the beans and the fruit and the pasta.

Take Advantage of Shipping

Shipping from the convention center is stupidly expensive but the convenience factor can’t be beat.  Once I got over the sticker shock, it turned out to be the best value for me too.  Here are real numbers.

There is an area where they give you a box that you can leave on a table until you fill it with books.  You can leave it for several days if you want.  That’s nice.  Every time your bag gets heavy you can go unload your books in the box.  Here’s the catch.  Each box costs $41 dollars.  I know.  I hyperventilated too.  That is the handling fee for having all the employees there taping up boxes and taking them to the UPS truck and processing payment and guarding the boxes.

I ended up having 3 boxes weighing a total of 106 lbs shipped for a total of $189.

Other options:

Originally I wanted to drive to spend $0 on shipping.  But my hotel cost $65 a day to park and the convention center cost $25 a day to park so for three days = $225 not counting gas to and from Chicago.

Taking an extra suitcase to fill with books – $50 to check two large suitcases on the way to Chicago.  $50 to check them on the way back.  I had 106 lbs of books, not counting clothes, so one of them would be overweight which adds $30 more.  $130 plus the pain and suffering of trying to haul two huge and heavy suitcases on trains to get to the airport.  I probably would have taken a cab so add at least $30 more.  That nightmare is not worth the savings of around $30 from the cost of shipping in my mind.  Plus, I don’t think my books would have fit in two suitcases.