My BEA swag stack! Only five more books to get tomorrow and I'm done!

My BEA swag stack! Only five more books to get tomorrow and I’m done!

I decided to take a mini vacation before my big one to Barbados on June 10th. And let me tell you folks, I picked a perfect week. The weather in New York is disgusting right now. It’s 90 degrees but to me it feels like 100!

Anywho, the weather didn’t matter much to me because I had the pleasure of attending BEA (Book Expo America). I spent the past three days inside the Jacob Javits Center being blessed by the AC gods and surrounded by one of my favorite things in the world: books!

Book Expo America is a four day conference from 9-5pm. It’s a huge publishing industry event where every publishing house you can think of, literary agents, authors, publishing professionals, book bloggers and book lovers from all over the world converge to talk books, technology, social media and the future of the book industry.

The Penguin book truck at BEA 2013. it's like a food truck only with books.

The Penguin book truck at BEA 2013. it’s like a food truck only with books.

If you are a writer, an aspiring author or a lover of books, this is the place to be. I’m still in the baby stages of my book projects, but I’ve already learned about new ways I can enhance Imported Chocolate, promote “Hola, Morocha” and make it more fun and exciting for you! I have so many ideas cooking in my brain but I will let them continue to cook before I spill the beans.

The books you see pictured above are all the goodies I picked up so far! At BEA, you have the opportunity to snag free books by your favorite authors. You also get to meet the authors and have them sign your book! BEA is also a great way to discover new books and authors, even before the books are released. Publishers give away free advanced copies of books for a review of those books. You can find these books at the publisher’s booth or the autograph area when an author does a signing.

I am writing about BEA today on the blog because I would like more people of color to be exposed to this amazing conference. Too little of us know about it. I did see more people of color there this year but it was still a ridiculous sprinkle compared to everyone else. By the looks of it, you would think we don’t read, which is certainly not true!

An even sadder reality was the lack of authors of color signing and attending the event. I won’t even get into that. It’s too depressing to think about.

To attend BEA (well, to attend next year at least, tomorrow is the last day) you can register and buy a badge on the BEA website. A four-day badge for the entire event is roughly $150. But it’s cheaper if you want to go for just one day. BEA also has special Power Reader badges that allow anyone in the general public (non bloggers and industry professionals) to enter the event for a day and score tons and tons of free swag and books. The power reader ticket is only $49!

I will end this post with my top four BEA tips.

1. Dress for the Occasion

BEA is usually held in late May or early June. Dress accordingly for the warm weather outside. However, I have to warn you that the AC in the Javits Center is freezing! So pack a sweater in your bag to wear when you’re inside.

Wear sneakers. You will be standing on your feet and walking all day so comfort is important. Don’t try to be cute and show up in heels. I saw a lot of heels on the floor, but I advise against this—unless you’re a signing author or industry professional, of course.

2. Become a Bag Lady
Most likely you will receive a swag tote full of freebies on your first day attending BEA, but I also recommend bringing your own tote or book bag. You will need it to carry all your precious book goodies.

3. Plan Ahead of Time
It’s a good idea to visit the BEA website a week prior to the conference and register on the “Show Planner” part of the website. “Show Planner” allows you to organize all the things you want to do and see: talks you want to attend, books that will be given away and signed, author talks, author signings. And you will be able to print your schedule and have it handy. Believe me, your schedule is your best friend—the best friend that prevents you from turning into a chicken with your head chopped off.

The Javits center is huge and it can get crazy if you don’t know what room number a talk will be in, booth number to visit a publisher or table number for an author signing. So you want to be as prepared as possible. For convenience, download the BEA app onto your phone. With the BEA app, information is just a click away. The app allows you to input your schedule from your show planner and will send a notification to your phone 10 minutes before each of your scheduled events start. The app also has a built in map and GPS just in case you get lost.

4. Bring Your Own Lunch
This is the MOST important tip. The food court is overcrowded and overpriced. You will end up waiting in line for almost an hour to buy food, which can dip into your schedule and make you miss an event. If you bring your own lunch, you will save time and money.

Cold sandwiches are the best lunch to bring. You can walk around with them in your bag for a few hours without them going bad

So those are my tips. I hope to see you at BEA next year. I’m going back in tomorrow! Wish me happy reading!


  1. Thanks for sharing info about BEA. Is it always in NYC? Just another excuse for me to visit. I’ll be in your city in 2 wks. I hope we can still meet-up!! Have fun in Barbados!!

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s been in NYC since it began and will be here in 2014, but then it’s moving to Chicago in 2015. Thanks for the Barbados wishes! See you in two weeks! :0)

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