I’ve been planning on doing this post for a year. After Book Expo America last year, there was this sort-of controversy about bloggers at book events being the worst thing ever. We get so many books and somehow that was supposed to be bad. I didn’t fully understand it.
Full confession time – I am a horrible blogger that everyone was talking about. Ok, not really, I’m not the person running over other people to get multiple copies of books. I did however send home three boxes of books from Chicago. I don’t understand how anyone could have gotten less.
My first interaction when I walked onto the floor set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Book guy, handing me a book – “Would you like a copy of this book? It is a middle grade novel about a girl dealing with grief.”
Me, trying to hand it back – “No, thank you, I don’t really read middle grade.”
Book guy, walking away so I can’t hand it back – “Keep it! You might like it.”
Short of throwing the book at his retreating head I couldn’t give it back. I was also reverse pick pocketed where people put books in my bag as I passed by. I tried to hand a book whose blurb I read back to the Hatchette person and I swear the woman picked up other other books and said, “If you don’t like that one, take these two too.” On Book Expo weekend this year light a candle for the Hatchette reps. They hand out books so aggressively that I got concerned that they are taken out back and beaten if they have any left.
I don’t buy the whole “bloggers take so many books that there are none left for anyone else” nonsense after seeing how aggressively people were handing out books whether you wanted them or not.
Once I got those books home what happened to them? Was it worth it for them to give all those books to me?
Based on that alone, it was not worth it to give me all those books. I didn’t read the majority of them. But is that the whole story?
Where are those books now?
I gave away books to other bloggers who might like them. I gave more books away to people who participated in Foodies Read and most of those have been reviewed. I’m still working on adding some a little at a time to the Free Little Library in my neighborhood. I’m also planning a big giveaway to other bloggers during Armchair Book Expo this year. The books are moving around and getting to more people.
One thing I found interesting was how many of these books I used on Instagram. I hadn’t done a lot of bookstagram posts because I’m a library user and ebook reader so I didn’t have pretty books to photograph. Suddenly I had a bunch of books. I did 49 posts featuring one or more of the books I got at BEA 2016.
So, is it a good return on investment to give bloggers books for publicity? Maybe not. But as I thought about that I realized something else.
I had thought that over the course of the last year that I would be seeing a lot of books that I first saw at BEA. I’d see them in the library and in bookstores and on blogs as they came out.
It Didn’t Happen.
I made a list of all the books that I got from BEA that I saw mentioned anywhere even once.
- The Underground Railroad – obviously a huge hit last year
- The Other Einstein
- Stalking Jack the Ripper
- The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin
That’s it. There are five books that I got at this huge trade show that I ever heard of ever again in even one blog post or saw in the wild. What’s the point? Maybe it isn’t the bloggers that aren’t helping the industry. Maybe all the buyers and librarians who are being courted by the publishers aren’t really pushing these books either. Granted I wasn’t lining up to get the hottest new releases but those were a minority of the books available.
Other bloggers who have been to BEA or other conventions – What happened to your books? Did you ever hear of these books again after the conference?