Saturday, June 5, 2010

Book Expo America

If you were there at the BEA, please comment! The experience, except for a few pleasant visits at the booths, was mega non-productive for me! I want to know what it is that authors can accomplish there. For the most part it just seemed like a hard-sell event – a pitiful and demeaning exercise for authors hawking books like used cars.

First is the intimidation of New York City in general, and the Javits Convention Center in particular. See what I mean? The building is overwhelming even against that awesome skyline:

And when you walk up to it, it’s even worse:
I walked for MILES around that place - finding very few of the booths listed on my BEA Planner. The map was impossible to follow since it would’ve had to be enlarged 500X to allow for legible text. And that would have made it…let’s see what my calculator says here…about 6’ x 3.54’. Moreover, only three of the thousands of exhibitors displayed their booth number. Without an annotated map, it was impossible to see if it was one of the 84 I wished to visit. Unfortunately, see, I’d arranged my list in order by booth number rather than alphabetically – assuming (silly me!) the spaces could readily identified.

There were no places to rest on the main exhibition level. The few places on the lower floors were always taken. The food and restroom lines snaked around endlessly.

It would have been miserable even if I hadn’t been up to 4 AM that morning wrestling with the hotel room thermostat.. But that’s another post.

I finally called it a day somewhere around 4 PM. It was the hottest part of the afternoon, and I’d dressed to match my book covers: Black, set off by a flowing red print scarf. That, plus the tote bag carrying 4 books and multiple packets and brochures, made a grueling 8-block walk to the hotel on already wretched feet.

But I made it all the way back to my frigidly air conditioned room – only to find it being cleaned. Sigh. Back down in the lobby, I snagged the one remaining muffin left from breakfast and washed it down with equally leftover coffee. While eating, I called the airport shuttle for a pick-up time. What? 3:30 AM?? For a flight leaving at 7:00? OMG. Suddenly my meager repast seemed providential indeed.

LaGuardia, as compared with other terminals, is as dirty and crowded as the rest of New York. At least, the rather limited part of it I saw. The only food concession open at 5 AM just had a tray of brownies out. That, plus a very expensive bottle of water, was breakfast. Don’t get me wrong. It was an exceptional brownie. Just not my usual fare. It was supplemented 2 ½ hours later by airline coffee and pretzels.

There were more pretzels and coffee on the second leg between Atlanta and Houston. Actually, since I didn’t know they’d changed the gate number of that flight, and therefore missed it, I might have hooked up with some real grub. But by the time I’d walked back across Atlanta’s interminable terminal to the gate of the next flight out, I was too angry and exhausted to care. When my husband picked me up, I forced him to head straight for one of our favorite restaurants where I pigged out big-time. Then I went home and slept for the next two days.

Like I said, if anyone had a positive experience at the BEA, please tell me about it!

No comments: