Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BEA Post: Let's Talk About Changes

As you all know BookExpo America (BEA) will be undergoing changes in the next few years as they begin to once more move venues each year and work to make the public a bigger part of the industry.  Some of these changes many of us have seen (Power Reader Day/BookCon, Book Blogger Convention/BEABloggers) and remarked on, while others have been more behind the scenes and not as well noted because some of the changes predate when bloggers began attending BEA.

In Steven Rosato's recent BEAN post ("Transform or Die", Jan 29) he talks about some of the background changes many of us have only partially noticed.  As I've been attending since 2007 (with the exception of 2008) I found a lot of this data very interesting, so let's discuss based on my own experiences. Please note Rosato's article is geared towards industry professionals primarily, not the average attendee such as myself.  so I'm supplementing his data with articles I found around the net.

"No One Goes to BEA anymore"
  • Rosato mentions how many "trade attendees" there were for 2013 (11,000 - that's w/o Power Readers or Exhibitors) which as his previous post ("BEA Post Show Numbers", June 2013) shows is a nice increase from 2012's 10,417.  The total number of Industry Professionals (which still does not include Power Readers) involved is closer to 19,615, which is actually a decrease from 19,694 in 2012.  Mining through Google for articles pulled up how many industry professionals there was in 2009-2011.  That number was 29,923 in 2009, 27,211 in 2010 and 21,919 in 2011 (from "BookExpo America 2010: 21,919 "Verified" Attendees at This Year's Event" June 2011, Publisher's Weekly).  So a rather sharp decline in attendees 2009 to 2013.  BEA commented in the 2011 article the decline was due to the shortened event (which is true, for a few years it was only 2 days as opposed to 3).
    • 2009 was when Bloggers became aware of BEA as a possibility for us to attend (free of charge)
    • 2010 is when the first year that Book Blogger Convention occurred.  It was bought/subsumed by ReedExpo in 2012 and became the rebranded "BEABloggers" Convention)
    • 2012 is the year of the rejection controversy.
    • According to the IBPA in March 2010, the "verified attendees" of 2009 was about 12,000, which was "up 30 percent from the year before but down 11 percent from the 2007 BEA in that same city." As this number did not include exhibitors, that means that (based on the number from the PW article in 2011) almost 17,000 of the "29,923" folks at BEA were for "non-attendees" (participating authors, exhibitors, volunteers, actual staff).
      • Its important to note however that 2011 and 2012's numbers includes the "Blog World" participants, so that would have inflated their numbers somewhat
"BEA is too expensive"
  • Rosato breaks it down at the square foot level for exhibitors/vendors, but from an attendee viewpoint it IS more expensive then when I first went (in 2007).  For $75 I went as an educator in 2007.  In 2009 it cost me nothing.  I paid in 2010 (because I coupled it with my Book Blogger's Convention pass).  Also I went only one day in 2007--Saturday.  From 2009 onwards I attended 2 (later 3) days.  I can't remember how much I paid in 2010, but I believe it was $110 for BBC and BEA. 2011-2012 I attended for free as a Blogger and 2013 I attended as a bookseller (as I am this year).
    • In 2013 they started charging bloggers their own price--$119--for their own bracket.  Also Book Blogger's Convention (now BEA Bloggers) could be bundled for $135 I believe
    • BEA does offer multiple types of passes--Single day or Four Day.
    • Its more cost prohibitive if you are NOT a blogger actually, with prices ranging from $175 to $399 for the full 4 day pass (pricing level here).  One presumes however that unlike bloggers, many folks who go for one of those tiers can call it a business expense and have their company pay (though as always that's not strictly true for everyone).
    • Power Reader Day/BookCon is $30 (I believe it was $45 last year?).  Its for one day and confers all the perks of a regular attendee...for the one day.  That's still a damn sight better then most conventions I attend (where its not unheard of to pay $60 for one day)
    • Much of my expenses are in food and the hotel.  For my sister and I, between the hotel, food and shipping we have averaged about $1000 each BEA since 2010, when I began staying in the city instead of commuting each day.
  • What this means for me is that as long as I can attend for free I can make the trip.  When BEA moves to Chicago I'm looking at a $300 plane ticket (at least, as opposed to $30 train ticket), increased shipping (no more $60 for 80lbs media!), food and of course the hotel (add a day/night because my travel is longer.)
So tell me, how many of you are still planning on attending BEA when it moves to Chicago (and beyond) in 2016?  Have you weighed the expense against what you gain?

(if anything I've said is incorrect, please feel free to correct me I'll go back and edit the post.)