Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BEA 2013 Survival Guide!

First-time BEA attendee? Is last year a little fuzzy?
Here's the Book Expo America 2013 Survival Guide!

Top 5 Rules

1. Comfy Shoes
These are best left at home.
There are no shoes in existence that can allow you to survive BEA pain-free, but you need to wear something you can stand and walk in for 10 hours... with heavy books weighing you down. (Shoutout to the random women I've seen in 5-inch stilettos ... you're crazy, but I admire your will!) Check a small rolling suitcase in the bag check area (best $3 you'll ever spend) and dump your books when they get heavy. (It's amazing what 7 books will feel like when they're in a tote bag hanging from your shoulder for a few hours. Those straps dig.)

2. Game Plan
Map out your signings and book drops (and their locations) in advance, and highlight the priorities. (There's plenty of information on the BEA website!) Don't feel the need to go to everything, and save time for socializing. (Yay, human interaction!) Make sure you get what you really want (see #4), and give yourself plenty of time to wait in line. Otherwise, when the zombification hits you midday, you won't have the energy to focus.

3. Sustenance
I'm the girl who's always thinking about her next meal, and I get mighty cranky when I'm hungry, so I made sure to have a water bottle with me and quality snacks—baby carrots, apples, and healthy trail mix—to keep me going and save money on Javits food! But either way, leave time for lunch!

4. Restraint
If you don't say "no" to people, you'll end up with 85 books and 10 pounds of swag for things you've never heard of and have no interest in. Just because it's there doesn't mean you take it. Stick to what you want; politely decline what you don't. And if you end up in an awkward, can't-say-no situation, find an attendee who does want the book and pass it on! Repeat after me: LESS IS MORE. (Also, less is less painful to lug around and cheaper to ship home!)

5. Attitude
It's crowded. People are tired. People are rude. Lines are endless. Backs ache. Paste a smile on your face, be polite, and meet the nice people. It's an exhausting few days, but you're surrounded by books and the people who love them. What's not to be happy about?

The Big 3:
Transportation, Lodging, Budget 

1. Transportation
Arm yourself with an MTA subway map (and MetroCard), and brave the subway! If you insist on cabs, don't count on a cab to always be when and where you need it. Cab rides can be cheap and efficient when split between friends, but the subway is generally cheaper and will be way faster during congested traffic! But if you're carrying a heavy suitcase, subway turnstiles are evil. Lastly, if you have to get to your flight/train/bus home during rush hour.... remember THIS. Last year, with not a cab to be found, I ended up walking 40 minutes to Penn Station, lugging my suitcase o'books with me, to make my train on time. (And Frankie even carried a tote bag for me.) Never again!
Edited to add: If you're taking Amtrak, book now! Prices increase the closer you get to your departure date.

2. Lodging is your friend. Though BEA does provide deals for (and shuttle service to and from) nearby hotels, you can DEFINITELY find less expensive (and sometimes nicer and closer!) accommodations if you do a little searching on your own. For example, our lovely apartment this year is a 12-minute walk from Javits, and it's $600 total for 4 people, 3 nights — that's only $150 each!

3. Budget
Beyond buying books at nighttime events (that's all up to your self-control!) and paying for the aforementioned transportation and lodging, most of your money will go to food. The good news is, with a little forethought, you can keep this cost reasonable. After you check-in to your hotel/apartment, find a corner store and buy a bag of bagels and a jar of peanut butter—voila, a cheap and filling breakfast that you can eat on your way to Javits! And the sustenance mentioned above (see #3) makes for a healthy, portable lunch. That alone will save you $15 or more each day.


Overall, BEA is a great experience.
You discover some excellent books and spend three days surrounded by awesome, book-loving people. What could be better?

BEA Veterans: What's your best tip?
First-timers: Any questions?
Leave them in the comments!

See also: BEA website's Survival Tips and FAQs


  1. My best tip: Know your schedule and keep back-up copies. There are also a lot of great ways to network online before hand like the Goodreads BEA group and the #BEA13 and #BEA2013 hashtags. :) Hope to see you there!

    1. Yes! And don't be afraid to let the schedule evolve.

  2. Oh I can't wait to see everyone there! I'll be signing books on Friday but Thursday I'll be standing in line to get signed books :-D my favorite part of the experience. I love the BEA app they have also. Even though AirBNB had some great prices I found some deals on hotels. com also. And saved money and hassle by taking the Megabus this year.

    1. Great suggestions! I prefer transportation that can't get stuck in traffic, but Megabus and Boltbus are definitely budget-friendly options.

  3. Looking forward to running into you guys this year, Donna! :) Thanks for all the tips. I'm a first-timer :)

  4. I'm not going to BEA this year (sadly!) but I really hope to go next year. I'll bookmark this as a reference for then since it's so helpful :)

  5. I didn't make it this year, but I hope to next year.

  6. I have fond memories of the one BEA I attended. Boy, you are so right about the shoes. And I should have had an empty rolling bag to cram those freebies into! My shoulders were killing me. And I even said no to half of what was offered. :)

    Have fun! I know you'll keep us updated and share lots of pics.

    1. I'll do my best. I'll have an iPad with me, but we'll see how the wifi is behaving!


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