During my time as a blogger, I’ve heard so many things about both BEA and ALA. I’ve seen how most people prefer ALA over BEA, but have never heard anything about any major differences between the two. I haven’t attended both BEA and ALA myself – only BEA – so I couldn’t give my input on them both…until now. This year, I attended both BEA in New York City and ALA Annual in San Francisco, so I can finally give my input on them both and state which one I prefer the most, which is what this post is about. Please keep in mind, this information only applies to BEA 2015 and ALA Annual 2015 as they would be moving locations next year and some things may be different.
Without further ado, here is my input on both BEA and ALA!
Who can attend?
BEA: The BEA website has a list of BEA badge categories, aka the people who can attend BEA, which includes authors, book industry professionals, bookstore personnel, educators, librarians, non-editorial media, and many more categories. (Book bloggers are categorized as non-editorial media.) Outside consumers that are not in any of the badge categories can choose to attend BookCon, which took place for two days after BEA this year.
ALA: Taken straight from the ALA website, “Librarians, authors, publishers, business professionals, educators and students – anyone who is passionate about books, libraries, and eager to learn and shape the future of the industry” can attend ALA.
How much is it?
Please note that prices can change every year as it was cheaper to attend BEA last year.
BEA: Without hotel fees, airplane tickets, and no special passes, the price to attend BEA is $152 this year, which includes the BEA Bloggers Conference one day earlier. However, if you sign up for a Press Pass and get approved for one, you can attend BEA for free, not counting the hotel fees, airplane tickets, and other fees.
ALA: Without hotel fees, airplane tickets, and no special passes, the price to attend ALA is $60 this year, which only includes the exhibits.
How many days is it?
BEA: This year, BEA takes place for 2.5 days: half a day on Friday and two full days on Saturday and Sunday.
ALA: This year, ALA for exhibitors only takes place for 2.5 days: Saturday, Sunday, and half of Monday.
How is the show floor organized?
First of all, like I said in the beginning of the post, please note that BEA and ALA will take place in new locations next year, so this information may be different next year.
BEA: BEA this year was located in Javits Center in New York City. All the exhibits are located in one large building with a separate location for author signings located at the Autographing Center on the upper-right side of the exhibit floor. There are large signs hanging from the ceiling to indicate where a variety of publishers are located on the show floor, making the entire show floor easy to navigate.
Some publishers like Sourcebooks and Scholastic have display copies while other publishers didn’t.
ALA: ALA this year was located in the Moscone Center in San Francisco in two different buildings: Moscone Center North and Moscone Center South. Publishers were separated between those two buildings and there was an underground hallway to go from one building to the other. At ALA, there were extremely little to no signs hanging on the ceiling indicating which publisher is located where. To find the publishers, you will have to look at the exhibit floor map to find out.
Every publisher has display copies.
How do you get books?
BEA: At BEA, almost everything is scheduled with the exception of surprise galley drops. You know exactly how to get the books you want, which authors are attending, and when they are all available as everything is already written, decided upon, and made public.
ALA: At ALA, although there is a couple of signings where you can get books and surprise galley drops, you have to ask the people at the booth for a majority of books. The problem is, some people at the booth don’t know about the book you’re asking for and may give you the wrong information or they may know about the book you’re talking about, but are misinformed and will give you the wrong information. I’ve asked three different people at the same booth about the same book and heard three different pieces of information.
Some publishers also charge you for finished copies of books if the author is signing a book that has been released already. This year, both Scholastic and Candlewick charged you for a finished copy if you want to meet the author and get your book signed while other publishers like Penguin and HarperCollins did not. Most of the books that are sold are given a 50% discount though.
I’m also not sure if they do this every time at ALA, but this year at ALA Annual, certain books and swag like a finished paperback of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and a Shadowhunters tote bag from Simon & Schuster, requires a coupon to obtain it. The coupons are only given out in a book you would get if you had registered for ALA as a librarian. Other people besides librarians, like teachers and bloggers, won’t get the book with the coupons in it since they are not librarians.
How are the people?
BEA: Everyone I have met at BEA has been friendly and helpful. There are few bad seeds of course, like some people who will try to snag the book you’re holding in your hands and people who go too far over the simplest things, but there are always a few bad people in the mass majority.
ALA: Like I said above, there are always a few horrible people in the mass majority that ruins things for everyone. I have met a few librarians at ALA who were rude to my friends and I just because of the fact that we were bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, most of the librarians I’ve talked to at ALA are extremely friendly and very nice and open people, but I’ve also met a few bad seeds.
Which is more tiring?
BEA: On the last day of BEA, I was dead tired from all the walking. I couldn’t even sit on the concrete floor properly at the Autographing Center as I had bruises on my kneecaps (I don’t know how they got there). However, when I came home and had the chance to sit down and rest, all was fine.
ALA: After my first and second day of ALA, my legs were all sore and tired. I could barely sleep the second night as my leg muscles kept me up as it ached. After the third night, my shoulder muscles joined in the aching. Once ALA was over and I had a night’s worth of rest, everything stopped hurting.
Which do I prefer?
Oh yes, the last and probably the most important question, which do I prefer: BEA or ALA?
Honestly, after going through all these points, I’ll have to say I prefer BEA more. The people are more friendly, everything is better organized, and it is less tiring for me to attend at the end of the day.
How about you guys? If you’ve attended both BEA and ALA, which do you prefer more? Do you have any BEA or ALA-related questions you want me to answer? I want to know!