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50 Shades of BEA

Another Book Expo America winds down…another participant realizes that it will take her feet a year to heal. During the mayhem of “the show,” as those of us who work in the publishing industry call it, I realized something else, too: That this year’s hottest book purchase has relevance to what Team Book Riot just went through in order to make sure we bring you, our wonderful readers, all of the best titles for the next twelve months. Thus (and I hope to your amusement), I herewith present my non-opus, 50 Shades of BEA–which includes not just the pain, but also the pleasure…

1. Booths

Pain: The standing. Oh, the standing! Also, the lack of places to sit when you and the person you’re meeting with actually manage to connect.

Pleasure: Admiring the best upcoming books displayed like the jewels that they truly are. Also, sometimes you do get a chair.

2. Parties

Pain: Wondering if you’ll receive any invites. Trying to decide which invites you can actually accept and make it to without ruining your back or brain.

Pleasure: Getting great invites. Attending a gathering and meeting someone who becomes your new friend, or meeting an icon.

3. Business Cards

Pain: Remembering and carrying business cards. Sorting out business cards after the show (“Who was ‘Fenella Greenbaum at Darjeeling Press?’”)

Pleasure: Having good business cards. Snagging the card of the person you’ve always wanted to meet.

4. Galleys

Pain: Going after them, and/or not snagging the year’s “hot” title. Hauling them around. Deciding how to get them back to your home, office, or bookstore.

Pleasure: Snagging the year’s “hot” title, especially if it’s signed. (Hellooooooooo, Justin Cronin!)

5. Swag

Pain: Arriving at the Chronicle booth just after they’ve finished handing out the last fun tote bag.

Pleasure: Nabbing anything Moleskine.

6. Shoes

Pain: Too many to fully list, but: blisters, blisters, blisters.

Pleasure: Buying a pair of shoes that don’t cause any pain. Bringing out heels you rarely have a chance to wear the rest of the year, if they also happen not to cause pain.

7. Networking

Pain: Attempting to see all of your favorite colleagues and friends while simultaneously having all of the meetings and attending all of the panels your employer requires.

Pleasure: Throwing your arms around the friend you haven’t seen for much too long, whether that’s a matter of weeks, months, or since last BEA.

 8. Autographs

Pain: Standing in crazy-long lines filled with crazed-looking industry types who are also rabid fans.

Pleasure: Getting your kid (or spouse or friend) an inscribed book from Judy Blume or Colson Whitehead or Debbie Macomber.

 9. Appearances

Pain: Taking time away from other BEA events to attend readings and talks.

Pleasure: Listening to your favorite author–surrounded by 100+ people who love her as much as you do.

 10. Badges

Pain: Remembering to wear yours. Finding the right badge holder/cord length (“Eyes up here, mister!”).

Pleasure: Identifying people (“Hey, that really is Nancy Pearl!”).

 11. Press

Pain: Knowing that they get in to all the best events: “I’m covering this!”

Pleasure: Appearing in the Show Daily, Shelf Awareness, or even an international publication.

12. Hydration

Pain: Toting water bottles in your tote in fear that no Javits Center line will ever be short enough for you to grab a soda.

Pleasure: Realizing you can fill your water bottle with anything you like, including bourbon.

 13. Serendipity

Pain: Waiting for it.

Pleasure: Receiving a tap on the shoulder and turning around to find just the person you wanted to speak with this year.

 14. Paper

Pain: Enduring paeans to its virtues that never seem to mention its concurrent vices.

Pleasure: Smelling old books. Am I right?

 15. Digital Publishing

Pain: Smiling through jargon-packed presentations about ideas and products that always seem to be “in beta.”

Pleasure: Finding an app that actually makes your professional life better and more enjoyable.

 16. New Media

Pain: Trying to keep all of the different sites, publications, blogs, and apps straight.

Pleasure: Understanding that writing about books hasn’t gone away; it’s just changing.

 17. Authors

Pain: Hating that you missed the one event with the one author you’ve had on your bucket list to see/meet.

Pleasure: Stepping backwards into the one author you’ve had on your bucket list to see/meet.

 18. Agents

Pain: Puzzling over what it is that they actually do, besides generating contracts (I jest!).

Pleasure: Knowing that without them, the stories we love might never find the best advocates.

 19. Publicists

Pain: Hoping they’ll pay attention to you and your needs before that other [blogger, critic, bookseller, librarian] gets to the booth.

Pleasure: Connecting with the PR who will wind up helping you out over a number of years with galleys and requests.

 20. Booksellers

Pain: Gazing at their worried faces.

Pleasure: Seeing their faces light up when they learn about a great new title.

 21. Librarians

Pain: Dodging their wheelie carts stuffed with swag.

Pleasure: Watching these fabulous book professionals get a few days out of the stacks.

 22. Bloggers

Pain: Reading their whiny, self-centered social-media updates.

Pleasure: Reading their informative, quirky and link-heavy posts.

 23. Hangers-on

Pain: Everyone feels like they have one.

Pleasure: Even when it’s annoying, you feel sort of special.

24. Self-published authors

Pain: Skirting the costumed types who foist postcards and pencils on us all.

Pleasure: Encountering an author who has used self-publishing to learn the ropes and pursue being published through credible channels.

25. Celebrities

Pain: Being trapped by a gaggle of people waiting to “meet” the latest celebu-author.

Pleasure: Meeting Ice-T, yo.