105 Ways to Give a Book

Book Expo America 2010

BookExpo AmericaJoin me in a journey back in time — all the way back to May 27th — to visit my BookExpo America Experience. It starts with an flight to NYC leaving at 7:00 a.m. By the time you even read that sentence, you realized what I didn’t consider — that a 7:00 a.m. flight from National Airport was going to require an ungodly early wake-up time. True, but it did get me to BEA for the whole day on Thursday. Very important, as I’d already decided to pass on Wednesday to reduce my time away from home.

Once I got to the Javits Center and collected my pass, I was off to get books. I had come with the idea of meeting authors and getting books signed, rather than collecting ARCs. That said, there were a few I couldn’t resist along the way. Namely Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness; The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis (Dear America), by Kirby Larson; Philippa Fisher and the Fairy’s Promise, by Liz Kessler; The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, by Kody Keplinger; Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream, by Jenny Han; and President of the Whole Fifth Grade, by Sherri Winston. There were a some others that I gave out as prizes in the 48 Hour Book Challenge, but these I still have.

I had looked through the online signing schedules exhaustively to plan my day, only to find that they handed me an all-too-useful spreadsheet when I arrived. Argh. I knew that my own listing was way too ambitious, but I knew my priorities and guessed at my time limitations.

My ridiculous flight meant I was early enough to catch even the 10:00 a.m. signings, and three of my top morning choices were Elizabeth Bluemle for How Do You Wokka-Wokka?, Adam Rex for Fat Vampire, and David Wiesner for Flotsam. Mission accomplished. I was dying to see James Howe, but the line was way too long. Then a quick stop to say hi to Mo Willems, get a poster signed, and pick up Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion. Then a dash to get a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection signed by Matt Dembicki — a local illustrator who came to my library a few years ago to do a drawing session for kids. We talked for a while there, and I was happy to see him on the BEA floor with this great new book.

I decided to skip the Jeff Kinney signing because the line was crazy long, and I hoped I could catch him later at the Guys Read session. I did wait for Laurie Halse Anderson because I really wanted Forge, the sequel to Chains. That said, I haven’t read it yet. C’mon, I’ve been really busy. I also had to pass by a few others on my list, but I ended up in the right place, right time to catch Barney Saltzberg to sign All Around the Seasons.

Then it was the quickest food grab ever to make it to the Guys Read session with Jon Scieska, Adam Rex, Mac Barnett, Eric Luper and Jeff Kinney. This was the highest priority of my day, and I enjoyed it throughly — from the banter among the panelists, to the video, to the Groucho glasses on my chair. Having no shame, I marched up to each of the Guys, introduced myself, and had them sign the book Guys Read: Funny Business. (Yeah, I haven’t read it yet either. Don’t judge me!) I got a few pictures, several handshakes, and a copy of The Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Adam Rex.

Afterward, I barely caught Gretchen Rubin’s signing of The Happiness Project, but she was very nice about it. And I was so excited to get the book! I spend the next hour kind of wandering. I hit a few signings randomly and caught some good ARCs as publishers were clearing out their stash of holdbacks (see above). I had been sorry to miss Roger Sutton’s signing, but a copy of A Family of Readers was among Candlewick’s last handouts. Sweet.

Three Quarters DeadBetsy Bird and I were going to meet up at an Author’s Tea she was attending, but due to no-shows I was able to get a seat at the table. The table occupied by Richard Peck, that is. Betsy was our table hostess, but we didn’t need much help to keep the conversation going with such an iconic children’s author. I got a copy of his new book, Three Quarters Dead, which looks like a real departure from the Peck books I know. After the tea and cookies, I was able to catch Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazlee to sign a copy of the ARC Clementine: Friend of the Week and was glad to have the chance to gush like a madwoman. I also met Jan Brett for a brief signing of The 3 Little Dassies — but long enough for me to mention how much I loved The Easter Egg, along with the video on Amazon. On the way out of the tea, I was able to get a copy of The Red Pyramid, but unfortunately missed the author himself.

With a bagload of books, I went to the shipping center, and then I was back to the same hall for the Book Blogger Convention reception. By this point, I was exhausted and remember very little as to the specifics of who I met or what I talked about. I can say with some certainty that I chatted with a marketing person, an author I’ve met before, and a very pregnant woman wearing heels. I can also confirm that I grabbed at least four of the little black-and-white cookies before the staff cleared the tray. No sense in them going to waste.

Other than a quick dinner in a noisy bar, a bus ride to the upper West side, and a well-appreciated stay at the home of Betsy Bird, that concludes my BEA day. Next up, Day Two: Book Blogger Convention 2010.

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