I arrived in DC on Wednesday afternoon, with some time for kill sight-seeing. Here are some pictures I took while exploring the Mall. That night I attended the Emerging Leaders meeting and met Jessica Stockton for the first (and definitely not the last) time as well as many other really nice people. Thursday I spent at panels trying to broaden my horizons as both a bookseller and a blogger. The show floor opened on Friday and I imagine is sort of like the Oklahoma land rush of 1889, everyone racing in trying to grab some attention–and some galleys. The publicists waiting in their booths, eager to hand out the latest novel or memoir or whatever to the grasping hands. I had appointment with various publishers, so I didn’t get an chance to wander the floor at all. I began the evening at the LBC party. Here’s some of the pictures from the evening (a couple of photos in). Most of us left there for the Public Space/Small Beer Press/Melville House/Bomb magazine party a few blocks away. Where our party was rowdy , smoky, and noisy (due mostly to Mr. Segundo I might add), their party seemed more hip, but just as fun. I met David Kipen of the San Francisco Chronicle and the NEA! After some dinner, I went with some great booksellers, James and Laura from Shaman Drum, to a party out by Politics & Prose. This is an annual party where all the booksellers let down their hair (if they’ve got it) and let lose.
Since I was attending the Booksense breakfast the next morning at 8 am, I went home fairly early (okay, 1:30 am). Being slightly tired didn’t stop me from enjoying Barack Obama, Amhy Sedaris, and John Updike that morning. After that, it was back to the floor for more appointments with publishers and some exploring. I went to a cocktail party thrown by Holt celebrating some of their Fall authors. I met Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horowitz, who seemed very nice. After that, I went a few blocks to Jose Andres’ restaurant Zaytinya for the Ecco anniversary dinner thrown by press starter Daniel Halpern. Authors in attendance? Nell Freudenberger, Daniel Handler, Joyce Carole Oates, Robert Stone, and Leonard Cohen—yes I got to meet Leonard Cohen, though only briefly to my disappointment.
After a good night’s sleep, feeling refreshed, Amanda (my co-worker) and I returned to the show floor for more meetings. At about 1 pm, we had had enough. On Sunday, most people are packing up and attendance is way down, but even that did not discourage us from getting outside to enjoy the sunshine. We headed to Dupont Circle, home of Kramerbooks. Sitting around the fountain in the sun did much to restore my energy. I had dinner at a wonderful French restaurant Bistrot Du Coin, which is in the area with 2 great booksellers. We met up with other booksellers to enjoy the nightlife a bit. I have to say that Kramerbooks is quite the hotspot on a Sunday night. A bar in a bookstore! How awesome.
Each year, after BEA officially closes, a group called IBC, or the Independent Booksellers Consortium, meets the day after. We all stay at the same ABA hotel and meet in different groups to discuss the world of bookselling. It’s perhaps my favorite part of the convention each year (okay, I’ve only gone twice now, but still). It’s a great forum to discuss changes in the industry, to exchange ideas, and to just gossip a bit.
And finally, late last evening, I arrived home, weary and with sore feet, thinking that I really love this book world, small as is may be. My only regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time with bloggers. I did get to meet Jessica, Carolyn, Ed, Max, Matt, and many others (sorry if you’re not listed here. Anyone who met me, feel free to chime in). Others have blogged more extensively about their experiences at BEA and I will try to put together a more comprehensive post about that tomorrow.