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Navigating the BEA Maze

NEW YORK, NY—BookExpoAmerica (BEA) 2014 takes place at the Javits Center on Thursday, May 29 through Saturday June 1. With more than 20,000 industry professionals, 11,000 attendees and 600 authors, BEA might feel like a Beastly Experience to Access. Especially for first timers. But it doesn’t have to be. Attendees can acquire most (if not all) the books on their lists and attend some author events as well. Here’s how to navigate the BEA maze.

Start Early

Who needs sleep when you have books? The floor opens at 8:00 a.m., but if you want to make sure you get books by your all your favorite authors, your best bet is to arrive at the Javits Center for 6:00. Lines form well before event times (as seen in photo 1), and rooms fill up fast. Also, some author signings require tickets. The tickets are free but they are a first-come, first serve basis.

Big Red Bag

On day one, run for the “Big Red Bag” at the McGraw Hill Education booth (as seen in photo 2). If you miss your chance, don’t worry. They hand them out at intermittent times throughout the expo. But the sooner you have it, the sooner you can stock up. The bag distributes weight evenly, making it much easier to tote those few (dozen) books around all day.

Check It & Ship It

Take advantage of checking luggage—not suitcases you packed for your trip. Separate luggage brought specifically for your books. Trust me, you need it. Wheeled luggage is not allowed on the expo floor. But for just $3* per checked item each day, attendees can unload all their treasured books into their checked luggage throughout the day. Too many books to take back home? No worries. BEA also has a shipping place on site. Though, that can be costly.

Comfort, Comfort, Comfort

Wear comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Gel inserts are a great investment. BEA’s tight schedule doesn’t leave much room to casually stroll around or sit down. For an additional fee, VIP passes allow attendees to skip to the head of the lines. This can save an hour or two wait for popular authors, but you’ll still spend the majority of the expo on your feet.

Necessities Only

Leave your purse at home and just carry necessities: wallet, phone, camera, and snacks. A canvas shoulder bag or small backpack with easy access is your best bet. Bring a large water bottle to stay hydrated and portable snacks like apples, nuts, and power bars in lieu of purchasing high-priced drinks and sandwiches.

Plot out the Maze

Print up a prioritized schedule of “must have” books, author panels, and other BEA events (as seen in photos 3-5). Plot out signing times and locations, and plan on arriving at the first of “same-time” autograph lines at least an hour in advance, sooner for high-profile authors and celebrities. Fortunately, BEA posts its signing and event lists well in advance. If you plot the maze just right, you’ll be able to hit multiple author booths every hour.

Go Mobile

With My BEA Show Planner, you can view the floor plan, author signings, event schedules, and more. Also, keep up with BEA on Twitter where last minute additions like impromptu celebrity signings and other BEA goodies get announced! Be sure to follow @BookExpoAmerica and use #BEA14 to stay up-to-date throughout the conference.

It’s Ah-maze-ing

Why go to BEA? As third-grade teacher Stacy Barnett Mozer explains, “To find new books to add to my classroom library and to meet authors who will inspire them [students] to read…to find new authors and new classroom resources and materials…to connect to teacher and librarian friends from around the country.”

For more information about BEA 2014 and future BEA events, go to the official website at

*Based on 2013 pricing. Fee subject to change.

Photos Credits:

Photo 1: BEA entrance ©BookExpoAmerica

Photo 2: Attendees with their Big Red Bag from McGraw Hill Education ©Sera Rivers

Photo 3: Author breakfast ©BookExpoAmerica

Photo 4: Chelsea Handler ©BookExpoAmerica

Photo 5: Author stage event ©BookExpoAmerica