#BookExpo 101: The Basics

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Back on my old blog, Poisoned Rationality, I used to do a round up of helpful posts for the Book Expo n00b. Its been a few years since I did my last one (2015!) so I thought I’d revise and repost some of those blog posts to help anyone looking for a nudge of help.

So you’ve heard about this crazy little thing called ‘Book Expo’ and you say to yourself ‘What in blazes in that?’  First, why are you talking like that?  Second, Book Expo is an industry event when publishers, booksellers, teachers, librarians, media and authors all get together to party.

Here’s a low down on the who, what, where, when, why, how and omg in all its proverbial glory.


This is not like San Diego Comic Con or Wizard World, this is more like E3–you’re either industry compatible or you’re not allowed through the golden gates. Its not all bleak though – if you’re a blogger, BookTuber, or Bookstagrammer you can either apply for the Media Pass or buy a Pass. If you work at a bookstore that is ABA affiliated you can buy one through them. If you work for a bookstore that isn’t ABA affiliated you can apply for a pass.

Really there’s lots of ways a BookDragon can apply to attend Book Expo (and if you’re on this blog or you’re googling Book Expo chances are one of the above applies to you). If you’re not certain of your category, or its too expensive, you can always check out Book Con. The programming tends to be more consumer driven, but its an affordable option with some of the perks of Book Expo and none of the industry expectations.

free books

I’m assuming if you’re bothering to look into this you have an interest in books and the publishing world.  Maybe you want to be an author or publicist or editor one day.  Maybe you want to take over the world and find the best publisher to help with your tell-all book.  Whatever the case, this is a great place to network.  As a blogger, bookstagrammer or BookTuber we have a more immediate view of publishing trends, we’re both ‘professionals’ and ‘fans’ and as such we know what we like.  Or don’t like.

The world has moved towards a more digital age, something bloggers have an up on.  So use Book Expo wisely.  Meet those publicists you only know by email handle for a cup of java in the morning before the Floor opens (believe me you’ll have the time). Meet up with authors who you’ve built a relationship up with, or run into them while on the floor (if my previous experience has taught me anything, authors have writers they fangirl over as well!).  Hand out business cards like sweet-tarts to everyone.

Being a Book blogger should be looked on as a way to network, and as in any professional setting where networking is the key, professionalism is the most important factor to remember.  Running to get the free books, being rude to fellow attendees, pushing in line to get ahead–this is all things that aren’t acceptable.

I’ve found friends by waiting in line with people–both of the attendees and the staff at Javits/Book Expo.  More often than not a little patience and some positive attitude and karma solved all problems (several of the authors I was in line for and nearly missed asked to extend their signing to an empty table so that the fans waiting would get a chance).


Even if you only take the books which for sure interest you, chances are you’re gonna be sore after a hour or two.  There’s really no full proof way to mitigate against it.  Dress comfortably, but nicely.  Business casual if you plan on meeting industry folks for official meetings or seminars.  Wear comfortable shoes–sneakers are great, flats are great…three inch wedge boot clunksters?  Not so much.

You’ll be inside for the vast majority of the day and the Javits is, if nothing else, well air-conditioned.  If you’re the type who gets chilled easily, bring a light cardigan or hoodie.  While NYC is likely to be very hot (and its a wet kind of hot, not a dry kind), the Javits won’t be.

To mitigate arm strain, back pain or shoulder problems utilize the bag check-ins.  For $3 a bag you can plop it down in one spot for the entire day.  So bring a large rolling suitcase and make a pit stop every couple or hours to de-load the books, swag and tote bags you’ll be collecting.  I haven’t heard of any issues, the bag check folk are kind of fierce and hawk-eyed, but if you’re really worried put a small lock on it.

And guys, I can’t stress this enough, be nice to the bag check folk. Tip them if at all possible – they don’t have to let us swoop in and out like they do (and indeed other industry shows and conferences I’ve been to its against the rules) so appreciate everything they do for us.

You can also go to the shipping area and get a box and plop your stuff in there…but I’ve heard problems from that quarter.  Plus shipping is expensive from on site.


On the one hand you have little choice unless you pack your own meal.  Javits is in the middle of nowhere (or rather the backend of nowhere), even if they are attempting to change that and most people won’t have enough time to find a place to eat, wait to eat and then get back.  But the food at Javits is really just a side-up from school cafeteria food.  Plus everybody will be crowding that area, so the lines will be long and seating limited.  Even for coffee.

In the past there have been food trucks near by, but don’t count on them as a sure thing. With construction and zoning laws, they may not be around when you’re hungry.

If you’re staying in a hotel see if your room has a small fridge or if the hotel will let you store food in their kitchens (some will, it doesn’t hurt to ask).  If you’re commuting (like I do), consider how long you can go without substantial food and whether its worth waiting til you get home for an actual meal.  Bring some handy snacks that won’t spoil quick.

If you know you need to eat regularly – whether for medical reasons or you know you’re a bear when hangry – do not miss a meal. Just don’t. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors.


In previous years I met up with some I spoke with fairly often offline and others I only knew by their social media handle.  It was a great experiment for me to see if I could make friends and be comfortable even with my social anxiety riding me high.

This also comes in handy if you have similar tastes.  You’ll often find people who you see over and over again while in lines or in booths. Book Expo is a built in haven for book lovers, but its nice to see folk who share your genre preferences. You can get hot tips about a signing you may not have seen or a galley drop. Maybe learn who the right person to talk to about certain genres is. Don’t be afraid to admire someone’s tote bag, swag or the book in their hand. Aren’t we all always saying we want more people to gush books to?


Admired an author for untold amount of years?  Interested in seeing just how quirky certain YA authors are at signings?   Well Book Expo is great for this!  The wonderful thing about Book Expo is that its not just new authors, authors from my childhood (Gail Carson Levine!) also pop around and give me a chance to meet them.  Authors that live on the other side of the world or country.  Can’t get to a lot of author signings cause you live in Boonhickville NJ (like me)?  Book Expo will solve that for you!


Even though I don’t usually make it to many of the sessions, I read about them and catch snippets while running back and forth on the show floor.  These are hour long sit downs with editors and authors who are discussing trends in the coming year and beyond.  These are great informational dumps for bloggers to consider and look at.

new books

Outside of the ARC’s and books they’ll be showcasing, I’ve found publicists and editors very forthcoming about upcoming books.  If they can help you, they will.  Don’t ask for spoilers, but they’ll be more than happy to sit and talk about (publicly known) acquisitions and author info and pass along their catalog.  Now this doesn’t mean interrupt an important looking meeting to ask if Stephanie Meyer is putting out Midnight Sun yet (someone at every show does this) and then get indignant when they don’t give you the answer you’re looking for.  They’re not GODS, they just help facilitate.

Even with my obsessive Goodreads, Amazon and blog stalking, authors get past me.  It hurts to say so, but there’s the truth of the matter.  That said Book Expo is there to shore up my deficiencies.  Its thanks to Book Expo that I found out about Rachel Aaron’s Eli Monpress series and Celine Kiernan’s Moorehawke trilogy.  Its thanks to Book Expo I found out Fantagraphics was putting out a Moto Hagio graphic novel.

I’m fairly certain my father rues the day I found out about Book Expo, but gee golly I’m glad I did!  Wouldn’t give up these memories for anything!


Lexie Words

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