Event Recap: BEA is Better than BookCon & How BookCon Improve

Last week I returned to Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javits Center for my second time attending the show since 2012.  For the most part, I knew what to expect from the event and I spent a ton of time beforehand making a list of all of the signings and giveaways that I knew I wanted to grab which was really helpful.  The most important thing about BEA is being organized and prioritizing what you cannot miss.  It’s the one convention where wandering around aimlessly will not work to your benefit.  On the first day of BEA, Kristina and I spent some time getting the lay of the land.  One the second day, we were much better about getting in specific lines and finding out what time ARCs were being dropped and by the third day we were PROS.  We were first or almost first in line for every single book we wanted that day (and we got them all!).  At BEA, all of the books you’re waiting in lines for are free so the waiting isn’t so bad.  From the last time I attended I had learned to be picky about the books I accept especially since I then become the one who’s responsible for carrying them for the rest of the day.  There were only about 3 books I ended up with this time that I hadn’t already planned on taking but I ended up leaving them because I couldn’t justify why I had accepted them.  Sometimes you just feel bad when someone is really trying to hand you their book and it’s easier to say okay and put it down somewhere else later.  All of the authors that I met, chatted with, and took photos with were at BEA (I’m much less interested in waiting in line for celebrity “authors” than I am in people like Patrick Ness and R.L. Stine).  We also had a beautiful sit down dinner with Quirk Books, and a really fun Epic Reads party to attend after BEA whereas I hadn’t heard of many events going on after BookCon.

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Since I was unable to attend last year due to various weddings and such, I missed the initial madness that is BookCon.  I have been hearing horror stories about it ever since and while they certainly made me cautious about what I was getting myself into, I was not going to miss the opportunity to see it with my own eyes.  For those who don’t know, BEA is an industry only event which is full of publishers, authors, press and literary agents while BookCon is open to the public.  While you can still win some free ARCs at BookCon, those in attendance are purchasing the majority of the books they take home.  Before BookCon started, half of the convention floor was dismantled and a temporary wall in the Javits Center sectioned off a small portion of what we had been walking around for the past three days.  It seemed strange to me to have a bigger event in a smaller amount of space.  I think BookCon could have utilized the other portion of the floor if they had added in vendors that the public would be likely to benefit from.  For instance, I think there is a HUGE missed opportunity for an Artist Alley (similar to comic conventions) to highlight artists who create bookish artwork, fan art and prints.  It would also be AWESOME to see Etsy vendors selling bookmarks and book inspired jewelry.  Plus, COSPLAY.  I think an event where readers cosplay as their favorite characters would be the coolest.  I could definitely see myself dressing as Celaena Sardothien, Luna Lovegood, or several other characters if that were to become a thing at BookCon. The one thing I did love was the platform at the Epic Reads booth where we were able to stand behind a cutout and take photos as if we were on the cover of Kiera Cass’s new spinoff book in the Selection series, The Heir.  I didn’t spend much of my time at BookCon because I felt as though I had gotten my fill during BEA.  I’m almost tempted to try to start my own book convention using my suggestions!

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On Meeting R.L. Stine at Spooky Empire

This past weekend was Florida’s annual horror convention, Spooky Empire, and I just so happen to be visiting my best friend/blog partner Kristin during that time.  I didn’t really know anything about the convention or what to expect while were heading there but I did notice that R.L. Stine was giving a Q&A Panel which was an event that I immediately knew I could not miss.  I credit R.L. Stine with being the man who changed my childhood and made me love reading.  When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting to me than acquiring a new Goosebumps book.  My grandmother lived within walking distance of an independent bookstore called The Oaktree Bookstore (sadly, it’s no longer there), and every time I would visit her, we would walk there together and she would buy me a new Goosebumps book.  I’ll never forget how overcome with happiness I had felt in those pre-internet days when I would walk into Oaktree, hurry over to the Goosebumps section and see that a new book had been released and added to R.L.’s shelf.  After carefully choosing my next read, my Grandma and I would also buy candy from the card store, and then run back to her house where I would immediately begin my next horrific adventure.  Whether it was a Halloween mask that adhered to it’s wearer, a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy who plays ill hearted pranks on his owners, a hamster named Cuddles who ingests Monster Blood, or a pair of lawn gnomes who wreak havoc while everyone sleeps, I could not get enough of Goosebumps.  I owned and read all 62 of the original Goosebumps books in the series multiple times, took out all of the television adaptation VHS tapes from the library for multiple viewings, and collected every last Goosebumps trading card available.  It’s been a long time since I was a child and experienced Goosebumps, but in that moment, at Spooky Empire, everything came flooding back to me as I shoved Kristin and yelled to her that R.L. Stine had just strolled past us on the show floor!
Kristin was shocked at my reaction and asked me how I was even sure that was R.L. since he was just nonchalantly walking around and chatting with fans in line for his panel, and I turned to her and desperately exclaimed that I just knew!  I waited for him to finish his conversation and then nervously ran over to introduce myself and thank him for making my childhood so memorable.  R.L. was friendly, and kind, and had an amazing sense of humor.  I told him the story about my grandma and how he is responsible for getting me excited about reading. He thanked me for telling him and when I told him that I read all of his books, he said “hey and you turned out okay!”  It was honestly a dream come true.  It’s been 3 days since I met him and I still cannot stop talking about it every chance I get.  But the reason R.L. Stine was in attendance was to promote his newest adult novel, Red Rain.  He explained during the panel that all of his readers had grown up and he has become nostalgia.  He didn’t like that feeling so he wrote a book to cater to all of his long time fans.  He also informed us that he had spent so much time writing about good kids, that he thought it was time to write about some evil ones.  Stine explained that while most people find children to be frightening, everyone finds twin children to be exceptionally scary.  Even an actual twin he spoke too.  He talked to us all about Goosebumps and Red Rain for nearly 90 minutes and I left feeling enthused and with a renewed love of my favorite childhood author.  I was able to get a copy of Stine’s Red Rain at Book Expo last June, and it is now at the top of my reading list.  I’ll let you all know how it is via Twitter and tumblr!  So I’ll leave you, dear reader, with one of my favorite aspects of Goosebumps, their irresistible cover art :o)
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