Wednesday, May 30:
morning: at my house, frantically preparing for tonight's party and trying to get done everything else I'd usually do this week...
2:00 - 5:00 Brooklyn walking tours sponsored by BEA. I'm headed for Fort Greene -- it's the Brooklyn neighborhood I'm most fascinated by and know the least about, though I'd love to go on every one of these tours.
5:00-6:30 ABA Brooklyn author reception -- a chance to grab some snacks and meet up with Brooklyn authors as well as all of my favorite booksellers from out of town!
7:00- ??? YOUNG BOOKSELLERS PARTY AT FLOYD!
Seriously, y'all gotta come out for this. Bocce, open bar, your fellow booksellers, open bar, hip young authors from Tin House, Soft Skull, and Knopf , open bar -- what's not to love? Plus you'll get to be part of the burgeoning Emerging Leaders Project, and take home (or back to the hotel) some super-useful info on getting the most out of BEA. And rumor has it BEA Big Man Lance Fensterman Himself will be there at some point in the evening, so you can get the inside dope on the whole shebang. Booksellers, come at 7; publishers, come at 9. I'll be there with a button on...
Thursday, May 31
10:00 - 6:00 It's a regular workday at McNally Robinson for me. If you're in town and have free time to visit the local bookstores, I'd love to say hi -- be sure to ask for Jessica if you stop in!
6:00-8:00 Reception for Canadian booksellers at McNally Robinson -- it's nice to be a venue as well as a partygoer.
8:00 - 11:00 Litblog Co-Op Party at Kettle of Fish. Official invites have already gone out, but if you feel like you'd like to see the real face of Dan Wickett of the EWN, Ed of the Rants, Megan of the Bookdwarf, and the rest of the motley crew that make up the LitBlog Co-Op, you officially have my permission to crash. This one's a cash bar, so you won't be making any money off of us, unless you happen to pick up a blogger's business card and sign on the next big thing...
Friday, June 1
8:00-9:30 (ha!) Children's Book and Author Breakfast -- I may or may not make it to this one, though it sounds like a great lineup, with hometown (Brooklyn) boy Mo Willems as well as my favorite indie bookstore supporter Libba Bray.
10:00 - 11:00 Blogs: Is Their Growing Influence a Tastemakers Dilemma? The Crossover Huurdle - Several of my fellow bloggers are participating in this mouthful of a panel, and I'm excited to support them with my presence AND hear what they have to say.
11:00 Meeting with the Emerging Leaders Council, to debrief on Wednesday night and talk about our strategy for the next year.
12:00 - 3:00 This may be where I have actually have some time to visit the show floor -- I'm hoping to do the practical long-term stuff (like checking out potential point-of-sale systems for my future store) as well as the fun stuff (DC and Marvel, here I come!) Though there's a great session on Book Industry Trends at 1:00...
3:00 Bookselling Demand Today - a panel where we get to get back the data from a bookstore survey we participated in earlier this year, and learn how our store compares to the industry overall -- exciting if you're a wonk like me.
4:00 - 10:30 Another work day at the bookstore. Forgive me if I don't make it to the big party at the Powerhouse Arena tonight -- I was looking forward to it, but a girl's gotta sleep sometimes...
Saturday, June 2
8:00-9:30 Book and Author Breakfast -- Ken Burns, Stephen Colbert, and Khaled Hosseini in one room? -- hard to imagine, but impossible to miss...
10:00 - 12:00 A bit more show floor time
12:00-2:00 Book and Author Luncheon - Spies (Valerie Plame), Impresarios (Russell Simmons), Pundits (Paul Krugman), and Alan Alda.
2:00 - 3:00 Graphic Novels 360 (or The Graphic Novel Pandemic, depending on which version of the program you read) -- MY panel! I'm lucky enough to sit next to Allison Bechdel (author of Fun Home), Mark Siegel (publisher of First Second) and other comics movers and shakers and babble about what lil' ol' me thinks about the state of graphic novels. Come by to point and laugh, or ask thoughtful questions -- it's in Room 1E03.
4:00 Screening of the Ian McEwan Out of the Book film -- I'd love to preview it (since my face is in it, apparently briefly) before we host our screening later this month.
5:00 - 6:00 More show floor, or a nap.
6:00 - 9:00 Independent Press Party at the China Club. Several of my favorite indie presses (Melville House, Europa, Seven Stories, etc.) are represented here, and I've got to make up for missing Friday night.
Late Night -- If I can score a ticket (I'm looking at you, Bill Getz), I am so going to the PGW party this year. I've heard that Sharon Jones, who fronts the Dap-Kings, could sing in a hurricane, and I'd like to hear that. Plus it's the traditional Saturday night bacchanalian climax to the all-pro weekend, and who am I to mess with tradition?
Sunday, June 3
I'm taking Sunday off. There's only so much BEA you can do in your hometown. And that will give me time to blog, right?
* * *
Now, the special WN reader bennie I promised. Below you'll find a reproduction of the handout we'll be supplying at the Emerging Leaders party tonight: a guide to getting the most out of BEA. My intrepid fellow bookseller Amanda Lydon and I banged it out over breakfast based on the input of our mentors in the Emerging Leaders project, who had prescient and hilarious advice. It's geared toward young first-time BEA booksellers, but I think there's a lot here that could be helpful to many a veteran. Hope you find it helpful -- have fun, and see you at the show!
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF BEA
Sit next to someone you don't know!
At meals, sessions, and any other aspect of BEA, split up from your bookstore coworkers. One of the most valuable parts of BEA is meeting people with new and different ideas, and you won't do it if you're sitting with people you already know.
Talk to booksellers!
Remind yourself that just like you, the person or people you walk up to may be looking to meet new people too. Here are some ideas for conversation starters:
Ask people what their plans are for the evening – which parties are they planning to attend?
Ask people about their specific job; most people love to talk about what they do.
Ask people about their store – how big is it, where is it, what kind of books do they sell?
Talk to publishers!
This is the easy part. Publisher sales reps make their living talking to booksellers – they'd love to meet you! Here are some ways to approach publisher booths.
Jot down a list of names of frontline booksellers at your store who couldn't make it to BEA. Bring it to a publisher's booth and ask what they'd recommend for your coworkers.
Ask any publisher what the big book on their list is this season, or which is their favorite new title.
Attend the ABA education sessions on Thursday in any and all topics that interest you. Go up to the panelists afterwards to say thanks or ask questions. Talk to those sitting next to you about how they plan to use the information at their store.
Wear your EL button – it's a great conversation starter. Publishers and booksellers are very interested in the Emerging Leaders project, so identify yourself as an Emerging Leader. Your new ideas and fresh perspective are valuable and sought after throughout the book industry.
Think long term!
Attend ABA sessions on skills you may not need now, but may in the job you aspire to have. If you'd like to be an events coordinator, talk to publicists. If you'd like to be a buyer, talk to sales reps.
If you don't have an invitation to a gathering, find an Emerging Leader who does and tag along. Or round up a group of people with EL buttons and make your own plans.
Check out something new!
Go to areas on the show floor that sell books or sidelines you've never seen. Visit small and independent publishers – they often have time to give you more attention. You might pick up information or samples that will be valuable for your store back home.
Choose your take-homes wisely!
You DON'T have to take home every galley or ARC that looks interesting. Get the sales rep's card, or give them yours, and have them mail you a copy. Don't weigh down your luggage or slow down your progress during the day with a million books.
Don't get stuck!
If you find yourself held hostage by someone who's talking too long, don't be afraid to say "Well, it was really nice meeting you – I'd better keep making the rounds."