"Are you going to BEA?" I'm sure every bookseller out there has been asked that question a dozen times. For those not in the business, BEA stands for Book Expo America. It is the second largest show devoted to books, after the Frankfurt Book Fair. 30,000 people in the business of publishing and selling books gather to network, party, promote, and connect during a long weekend in early June.
So are we attending? The short answer is no. The long answer includes varying reasons why not:
- 1. We don't like to leave our store at the beginning of our busy tourist season.
- 2. Because we rely on our visiting sales reps to show us the important books we may miss when reviewing the seasonal catalogs, we don't need to browse the enormous sales floor at the convention. So although walking the gauntlet of publishers is fun (who doesn't love the occasional free book offered up by those running the show tables?), it's not necessary.
- 3. The cost of getting there, staying there, eating there, is prohibitive.
- 4. I really hate getting up early!
- 5. We are a smallish new store, and that makes us feel invisible (and slightly ridiculous) at such a huge event. Our regional trade show (NEIBA) fits us better.
The obvious answer is yes, and here are our reasons:
- 3. To meet kindred spirits who share their insights and travails with you is our third favorite part of trade shows.
- 2. The educational programming provides us with tools and new ideas to bring back to our store.
- 1. Celebrating the world of books and the incredible passion of everyone involved in this industry is a tonic which has the power to renew our flagging energy. Running a small business (and reading in general) is a solitary business.