As a relatively new book blogger, I had only heard about BEA (Book Expo America now being called Book Expo) last year. For bloggers, the event seemed to be a great place to meet face-to-face with other book bloggers, mingle with authors, and get ARCs of anticipated books to read and review later. Now, it seems like BEA would rather not have bloggers attend. Is this a calculated move to push out bloggers? Or is BEA simply making choices to maximize sales?
The Drama of BEA 2016
Amongst the people on Twitter and blogs that I followed who went to and enjoyed BEA there was also a lot of book blogger drama. Specifically around bloggers that appeared to abuse the system by collecting multiple ARC copies (4+) that were criticized when they posted pictures of their hauls for exploiting BEA for more views, followers, or money-making scams. I know there were arguments on both sides. Some people protested that if they paid for 4 entries they had to right to get 4 copies of the same book even if it’s within the same family. Others said that they should only be taking books they know they’ll read and that taking so many copies stole opportunities from other people at the show who maybe didn’t get copies.
BEA/Book Expo Registration
Last year after jealously reading about everyone’s BEA experiences I hoped that I might go to the 2017 expo. Now, due to my new financial situation, I know that won’t be possible so I didn’t bother looking at registration. Then Twitter lit up with bloggers angry with now Book Expo’s registration and pricing for bloggers. And so I had to take a look. Below I’ve pasted a screenshot of the pricing chart for registration for 2017 and 2016.
Um… yeah, what? Just from a comparison point of view from librarians to bloggers, it’s a painful price difference. But when you look at what they were charging last year, it feels downright criminal. On the flip side, there’s been a leap in price decrease for wholesalers.
In Book Expo’s defense…
From the point of view of the Expo, I would assume that you want people coming to your event that are going to promote the books and the event. Because that makes the publishers happy, and then publishers are more likely to provide things like ARCs. And while bloggers and not-for-profits can promote the books, librarians, wholesalers, etc. are directly linked to the purchasing decisions.
And considering the drama of last year, I can understand being wary of bloggers. No matter what position you take on multiple ARCs, the final line is that if one family gets four copies of one book, they all review it on one blog, that’s still a single blog’s worth of exposure. And you can’t be sure that blog will lead to book sales. But a librarian can directly impact which books are bought. I get that. And book bloggers weren’t the only group gouged, not-for-profits took a big hit too.
And so you want to make it more appealing to an audience that you can be fairly sure will lead to more sales and decrease the amount of people who don’t have a direct hand in increasing sales.
But in book bloggers’ defense…
At the end of the day, you can’t ignore blogger influence. Book bloggers can have a huge impact on whether other people decide to read the book. I think about something like The Continent and how book bloggers and authors who had ARCs exposing the problematic and racist elements made a real impact on the release of that book. You can’t pretend that bloggers don’t have a major influence even if they don’t directly make purchasing decisions.
No, we can’t directly affect the purchasing of a book. But we can tell everyone whether the book was amazing. And if you know book bloggers, when we love a book we shout it from the rooftops and go the extra mile to promote it. FOR FREE. So I can understand why it feels like a slap in the face for a major expo to make it difficult for bloggers to enter.
Especially when I think of younger teenaged book bloggers. For all those YA novels, these people are the target audience. No matter how many adults read YA, it isn’t meant for us. It’s meant for teenagers. And to make it difficult for them to attend this conference and get feedback from real teenagers before the book is released seems baffling.
What do you think of BEA/Book Expo’s pricing or feelings towards book bloggers?
Let me know in the comments!