As usual, I ended up spending more time in the exhibits hall than I had originally planned. How can one resist the siren call of all those "free" books, and authors to mingle with. Sad to say, after an exhausting day running around Washington, I ended up oversleeping and missing the YA Coffee Klatch… and I did not make it to the overlapping session about kidslit bloggers, either. Rats!
The exhibits hall publicists did a fine job of sustaining a buzz throughout the whole convention by selectively releasing different ARCs throughout the weekend. As usual, there was the usual grousing amongst librarians about the lack of free ARCs that have been available in years past. To be honest, I didn't really see a cause for concern. I managed to pull in quite a haul of books. Most impressively, at least to me, were all the ARCs that were in finished full-color paperback format. I didn't see any with the pale pastel unfinished looking covers that were so common a few years ago. There were a larger number of F&G's for picture books than I've seen in years past, and a good amount of non-fiction ARCs as well. Wizard's of the Coast didn't have too many freebies at their booth, but they made up for it with their awesome, self-contained little "magic shop".
Perhaps it was slim pickings for adult librarians, but the number of middle-grade novels and YA novels available was really pretty impressive. I'd heard conflicting reports on how publishers were treating bloggers at BEA, some said that being a blogger "didn't seem to matter anymore" and others said that mentioning a blog (especially one that looked more professional, with known blog stats, a business card, a domain name, a review policy, etc.) did seem to open doors. I found most publishers friendly when I mentioned my blog -- not overly impressed, but not dismissively rude about it either.
The on-site shipping was deceptively dangerous. In the past, I've used the old, "pack a bag inside your luggage" trick, and brought books back on the plane with me. But that backfired, because books are heavy and my luggage was over the weight-limit, incurring additional fees. This year, I decided to use the shipping center at the conference, which caused me to load up on more books than I'd originally planned. They give you that big box, you might as well fill it right? Sadly, I don't have any pictures of my haul, but I'll be sure to post them once the books get here. Shipping book rate is very affordable, but also very slow. My books haven't arrived yet, and probably won't for some time, leaving me in a worried state about their condition until I finally get to see them again. There are definitely plusses and minuses to shipping vs. packing in your luggage, that's for sure.
What I saw this conference, more so than I ever have before, were books for sale. Lots of autographing sessions with authors, with books available for $1-$10 dollars ($5 for a hardcover seemed to be the dominant price). I didn't see anyone charging money for ARCs, but I did see a number of publishers "bundle" the ARC with a hardcover. Buy the already published hardcover book (normally $17-25) for five dollars, and get the new (and highly anticipated) ARC for free. Plenty of fans in line admitted to me that they already owned or didn't need the hardcover… they were paying for access to the ARC, and for the autograph. Can the day of outright charging for ARCs be far behind?