Is BEA Pushing Book Bloggers Out? – Discussion Post

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.

BEA/Book Expo Registration Prices

BEA/Book Expo 2017 Pricing

BEA/Book Expo 2016 Pricing

BEA/Book Expo 2016 Pricing

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!

 

25 Comments

  • Figsy

    December 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Unfortunately there were a few bad apples that ruined the bunch.
    Last year in Chicago I was in line to meet an author and behind me I heard a group of non-blogger attenders bitterly complaining about the bloggers.

    Complaining that all of the lines were filled to max an hour plus early with bloggers.

    so people who were there from the ABA, librarians, other book industry type people, etc. were literally getting the shaft and how it wasn’t fair.

    That these “little bloggers got to suck up all of the books”

    These women and men ended up in many of the same lines as I was in, and in each line they drew more people into their debate, and the last I heard they were planning on writing letters to the Book Expo people about this problem – this problem being bloggers.

    That just put a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    I even heard a few people talking about how Book Expo is going to change significantly in the upcoming years-and not just anybody will be let in the door

    One person, a young person, showed up with both of her parents- who were obviously elderly.
    He/she would give them a list of the books to get, what lines to stand in & the times, etc. etc.
    while I applaud his/her ingenuity, part of me cringed a little bit about this situation.

    I felt that it was a little greedy. Maybe overkill.

    Then I questioned my thoughts. Were they out of jealousy? Yeah of course they were.
    I wanted Caraval badly but you got two???!!!

    It was also for the other reasons that have become abundantly clear

    Needless to say I heard a few more people talking about the same exact person as the day went on.

    It helps that I went alone to Chicago expo because I was able to ear hustle a lot of conversations.

    Some funny and downright innocent, and others just left me with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. For good reason. Obviously.

    Now that I have gossiped and shared some 411 with everybody..

    Book Expo is for publishing and industry professionals.

    Bloggers were blowing up hard-core about 4-5+years ago which is why they were allowed into the expo to begin with.

    They do contribute so much to the industry. Of course book blogging is it’s own little niche, but that’s not to say it’s not contributing .

    As to how we contribute financially is yet to be seen.

    We definitely have the numbers as far as exposure goes.

    But how many of these people buy these books via e-book or physical copy? How many of these people have convinced a bookseller to purchase 100 copies of the book they reviewed?

    So it’s come down to this: are book bloggers better for exposure or sales of books?

    Which are they more successful with? Creating buzz or creating money?

    Now one could argue one washes the other …..

    Sure, a popular book blogger can expose thousands of people (via all of his or her social media and blog accounts) to a book/book review, but how many of those people physically BUY that book?

    There are industry professionals that invest a sh1t ton of money into Book Expo every year.

    Setting up booths, getting their people out there to sign books, Setting up other opportunities to expose their brand/person/books, printing copies of said books, little tchotchkes that people take away, etc.

    Book Expo to these people is a special place. A place where they put their money where their mouth is.

    So when it starts to feel like “comic con for books” why should they invest thousands upon thousands of dollars for a bunch of kids with blogs?

    How are these kids with Blog’s going to help them recoup- if not more- their costs?

    Why justify paying for somebody like Jim Carrey or even Kenny Loggins to come out?

    BTW : I am playing devils advocate here. these are not my personal feelings.
    I am just putting stuff out there for people to think about and discuss.
    Because these things have been said about Book Expo and the attendees.

    Now that I am at the end of my long as can be response to your beautifully written post, I have to wonder: is the role of book bloggers changing in the book publishing industry and how? In the future will book bloggers be as important as they once were? Or will they fade into oblivion with only the strongest of the strong clinging on?
    Is it worth it to start a brand-new book blog now? If you are in it to achieve book blog notoriety- maybe not. If it is a tried-and-true hobby and you have no expectations – maybe so.

    Again, playing devils advocate here. What do you all think?

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 15, 2016 at 9:52 am

      It’s great to get that 411 about the conversation that we’re taking place there! I can absolutely see how that would contribute to the change, though it seems like that may have been coming anyway.

      But yes that does seem to be the question of how much are book bloggers actually leading to sales. Which is data we can’t know without a major retailer asking customers and sharing that info with us. I could do a poll but most of my followers are book bloggers so it’s moot.

      But I guess we’ll see. If next year Book Expo has suddenly dropped the cost for book bloggers then we’ll know that we lead to sales. And if not, then we probably weren’t making a huge difference and should chug on over to Book Con.

      As for the role of book bloggers, when I started to blog I just wanted to talk about books with other people. That’s still all I want from this blog. I cared about ARCs for a hot minute then couldn’t be bothered with them. So I think book bloggers with keep going on. We’ll perhaps just lose the ones that were only in it for ARCs if publishing decides that it’s no longer worth the money to give ARCs to bloggers. But that’s my personal thoughts 🙂

      Reply
  • Krysta @ Pages Unbound

    December 13, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Whenever I see bloggers talk about how much we influence book purchases, I honestly have to wonder how much that’s true. The audience for most book bloggers is other book bloggers, not the general public. And book bloggers already read and buy books so it’s not as if I’m really encouraging them to do something they wouldn’t have done without me. Also, book blogs just don’t seem to have the page view numbers that other blogs have (such as food or fashion blogs). When I post a review and I see that twelve people clicked on it…am I really influencing the purchasing power of those twelve people, much less the general public? I can totally see why BEA might want to start focusing on making this a business event to sell books–and in that case, bloggers aren’t really a good fit.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 14, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Yes, I’ve definitely been coming around to wondering about the sales. As a blogger that’s involved in supporting diverse books etc. I think I’ve just been seeing these problematic books and the community coming together to spread the word and watching publishers be forced to take action from that. Which feels like having a lot of influence. But at the end of the day, that’s very different from influencing the general public to BUY a book. And you’re absolutely right that bloggers were going to buy that book anyway. And we don’t have the numbers of fashion or food blogs.

      I would LOVE to see stats from like Amazon or bookstores about ‘how did you find out about this book?’ And you have to wonder if BEA already has access to those stats?

      Reply
  • Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts

    December 11, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Although I haven’t experienced BE/A myself, I do see their [business] side of things. It makes sense, and what Ashley said gives clarity as to primary difference between the industry/consumer specific convention; which is why I can’t really hark on that long application re: asking questions that genuinely do weed out a percentage of influencers who are still teens, in school, or simply do not have credible influence in a buying capacity. The price change is meh. I’m more displeased at the conversion itself.

    I can’t necessarily put all the blame on the ARC debacle earlier this year (because let’s be honest, there are probably “community” members who sell said ARCs on ebay and the like). Catalyst? Sure. But I guess either way it still sucks that the vast majority is being punished for the actions of some / a family.

    And just to tangent a bit, and perhaps a bit on the iffier side of things, is that I find many influencers put a premium on the content and/or marketing they put out when in fact their voice might not bode tangible call-to-actions outside of the community. In a lot of cases, the ARCs we read sell books amongst ourselves and it ends there. Yeah, you might cross-post to GR/Amazon/wherever (those are difficult to quantify) but from your own platform alone, I just don’t think the bulk of us are reaching audiences we’d like to think that we do.

    Just some thoughts.
    Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts recently posted…[Review] Ever the Hunted – Erin Summerill (including Q&A)My Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 14, 2016 at 9:10 am

      That’s a really legit point on whether book bloggers are REALLY influencing anyone other than book bloggers. I think I’ve definitely been victim to over estimating our influence because I’m just interacting with other bloggers. But there isn’t any info I can see about what actually influences the general public to purchase a book. It’s been shown that we have the sway to shut down a book (e.g. Bad Little Children’s Books) but do we help sell anything actually? Especially when you consider that reviews are often the least viewed material on a book blogger’s site.

      But yes, I think it’s becoming clearer as we have this discussion that they’re converting to something more likely to make a profit. And bloggers that are coming to understand that, but it’s upsetting to lose what was previously a favourite convention in the community.

      Reply
  • Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog

    December 11, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Great post!! I was hoping to attend this year because I have been blogging almost two years and it would be close by in NYC. Then I saw the price and that insane registration form and figured it wouldn’t be worth for me. I get that they want to go in a different direction but just sad about it. Hopefully something for bloggers and alike will happen because I would love to go. And I went to BookCon two years ago and no thank you – it was crazy. I had fun but it was just kind of nuts.
    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted…Weekly Rewind ~ 12.11.16My Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 14, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Yeah, I think it’s a hard change for people and it makes sense to be a little sad. Haha so it seems the consensus is that Book Con is a little too much. Maybe some sort of separate Blogger con will sprout out of this, who knows?

      Reply
  • Ashley

    December 11, 2016 at 9:36 am

    From what I’ve seen and read, I don’t think the point is necessarily to push out bloggers. I think the point is to actually change the entire landscape of what BEA actually is. In the past it’s almost been like a book party. Celebrate books, get books, promote books, meet bookish people. It sounds like they want less party (and maybe even less promotion) and more of an industry trade event for people doing business (making deals to purchase books and whatever). So then I guess the question becomes, do book bloggers really belong at an event where the purpose is no longer promoting books and getting books to review, but rather doing business deals? Honestly, probably not. Ultimately bloggers are consumers and they probably want to push us more towards BookCon, which is the consumer event (and I hate it and won’t be going LOL).

    I’ve attended BEA the last several years and it massively disappoints me to see BEA change like this because it’s been such a wonderful event for me. I’ve also been heavily involved in Blogger Con the last few years and I’m sad to see that go too.

    But while I am upset and disappointed, I also understand that it’s BEA’s event and they can change it to move in a new direction if that’s how they see fit. If they want to move it into a direction focused purely on business deals, then I can see how they don’t think bloggers would fit in there.
    Ashley recently posted…Turns Out Writing in a Book is Pretty Fun! (warning: Harry Potter #1 spoilers)My Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 11, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      That’s a fantastic point about them trying to change the kind of event it is and I think that’s probably spot-on. Making it an industry event instead of a book lover’s event. I think that message just got tangled up in ‘is this because of the book blogger drama last year?’ and then starts to feel like a push-out. And I’m sure you’re right, if bloggers got there and it was all about buying and selling it would be weird for them. I think the biggest mistake here is how silent BEA’s been on explaining why the changes are happening.

      That is upsetting for you and other bloggers that have been going there for years. And other new bloggers that were anticipating going for the first time. And at the end of day, like you said it’s their decision.

      Though now that I see Book Expo is in NYC, I might consider it. Though maybe not if you hate it hahaha

      Reply
  • Lola (Hit or Miss Books)

    December 11, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Love this post. Oh god, the prices have changed immensely. To be honest, I want to care about BEA, but sadly I live in Canada, so we don’t have what you guys have where I live. We have something WAY cheaper, though WAY cheaper in terms of pricing also (like 10$ per day ahha) but we don’t have free ARCs.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      I’m in Canada too! Originally in Toronto but I live in Timmins now so I’m even farther away. I’ve heard about an event in Canada but I didn’t know any of the authors and it did feel much much smaller as an event. NYC or Buffalo is probably the closest location if you’re in southern Ontario.

      Reply
  • Kaeley @ Spoilers May Apply

    December 11, 2016 at 1:58 am

    I like your post, it’s very balanced and looks at it in a logical way. My last blog post was about Book Expo and I definitely wrote my post when I was in a little more of a worked up mood. I’m also new to blogging, and finding out it would be very difficult for me to attend is disappointing. I live a far distance away and don’t have any friends in the NY area, so even without the BE entrance price, my trip to attend would be at the very best a minimum of $600. I understand that we live in a capitalist world and money drives everything, but raising the price feels a little discriminatory against people of lower incomes. Anyone who loves books should be able to attend for a reasonable price if they can scrap up the money to get to the city where it’s being held.

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 11, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks! And I can understand the frustration of it all especially if it was going to be an expensive trip in the first place. I was actually really excited it was going to be in NYC because that’s fairly close to where I am in Canada, but also knew it probably wouldn’t be super financially feasible. But for people who were toeing the line, I’m sure that price hike decided for them. And it’s upsetting to see those people disappointed.

      But like Ashley said, I agree that it may be BEA changing from a book lover’s event to more of a publishing/professionals industry event.

      Reply
  • Jen @ YARomantics

    December 10, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I started attending BEA in (I think?) 2012 and have attended every year except last year when it was in Chicago. I think these very high new prices are going to price out most bloggers, who make no money from the work they do and won’t be able to justify $300 admission plus transportation and a hotel. I agree with you – they are trying to price out bloggers AND maximize revenue by charging high prices for those who desperately want to attend.
    My take? No way I’m paying that much! But I’ll be watching these new changes with interest.
    Jen @ YARomantics recently posted…Freebie Friday: Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition with special content!My Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 10, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      It’s painful to see people that have gone before not being able to go because of this price spike. I really don’t know if this is going to even help maximize revenue or if they’re going to lose money from all those bloggers who would have gone, to be honest

      Reply
  • Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    December 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Ooooh I love this post, and I am probably going to write ALL the words in response, so get ready 😉 I have a lot of feelings. I was at BEA in 2015 and 2016. And I agree with your point about the blogger taking 7 (yes, SEVEN) copies of books. Here’s the thing- it was disgusting and awful and a complete abuse of the system. But it was ONE small group, and only ONE blog that was involved. It seems like they are using this one incident to have a nice easy way to get rid of us in general.

    I also want to respond to what Briana said above me, because she hit the nail on the head in regards to not ensuring that there are legit industry people there, just financially secure ones. In fact, I think it makes it WORSE. See, you have some awful person who goes to BEA JUST to get 7 copies of a book. What do you think they do with them? Sell them, of course. So the $300 to get in… well, not so bad for them if they plan on being gross and reaping profit with it. See how they haven’t stopped anything?

    OH, but they have. They have stopped small businesses, small town libraries, bloggers, indie authors, etc ALL from attending. Because MONEY. And here’s the real reason it won’t work for so many people: Yes, $120 more is a LOT. But it isn’t even that. It’s the fact that you have to pay UPFRONT just to APPLY. So the price hike coupled with the fact that you have to apply like, right now, means that anyone who DOESN’T have $300 just hanging around can’t go. Which, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have it. So who suffers? Bloggers, of course. But also authors, small booksellers, librarians from systems without huge financial resources (and ultimately, all the patrons of theirs, too), indie authors or authors from smaller pubs who NEED these events to network, etc.

    The message could not be more clear: Unless you make us money hand over fist, you can GTFO, because you aren’t needed. And bloggers, that extra means you. But by all means, still give us free promotion. IF we let you in.

    And the truth is, NO ONE is standing up saying otherwise. It would be one thing if it was JUST ReedPop, and we could say “well, they suck” and move on. But what have we heard from publishers, or any other industry people? NOTHING. Which also sends a clear message. So yeah, I am sitting here rethinking EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to go from here. I put so much of my energy and time into blogging, and I didn’t expect anything huge out of it, but some appreciation would be nice. Not to hear from even OTHER bloggers that what we do has NO impact. Because if it doesn’t… why exactly are we bothering?

    Anyway. Great post, very well written! And thank you for letting me vent on it 😉
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Review: Iceling by Sasha StephensonMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 10, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Feel free to vent!!

      But yes, the message does feel a lot like “we don’t want you here” and I would bet that a lot of pressure comes from publishers who have their authors participating in the event.

      But the people who are being hurt are those that want to go and now aren’t financially able to go ahead with it. I’m REALLY interested to see how their attendance fairs after all of this. And whether it ends up being worth it in the end.

      But I def agree that it’s painful as a blogger to do so much promo for free and then basically get a slap in the face on events like these. I also feel badly for indie authors that are hit with those huge fees to go mingle and promote there.

      Reply
  • Briana @ Pages Unbound

    December 10, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I think you hit a lot of points I agree with. I would not be surprised at all if BE[A] had received complaints from publishers that there were too many non-industry people there. And I don’t really have a problem with limiting bloggers to focus more on industry professional. I think it’s totally true that there’s no way to really quantify how much bloggers influence sales. Maybe we do. Maybe we don’t really. So, sure, perhaps focusing on librarians and booksellers makes more sense. However, acting like it was bloggers’ “fault” for overtaking the convention is ridiculous. (And I think there is a tone of resentment from some industry people to this effect.) BE invited bloggers, and publishers provided author signings and such, which I see as a move to attract a more general audience. Is a bookseller really going to be more likely to stock your book because you gave them a personalized signed copy? I doubt it. The author signing was a fun thing to appeal to the masses.

    However, I think the enormous price increase doesn’t necessarily ensure “we’re only getting credible bloggers” if this is also partially about “bloggers behaving badly.” It just means they’re only getting more financially stable bloggers. I think actually looking at their long blogger application would be a more fair way to pick what bloggers attend, rather than simply trying to price people out, but I’m not sure BE really cares about that. Chances are the long application is also just a barrier (Let’s weed out people who don’t fill like filling the form out), and they may not even look too closely at the answers.
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    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm

      YES! I have no idea how making a higher price is supposed to weed out the bad bloggers. Especially since in the case of all that drama the person had the money to afford 4+ tickets, so obviously, money isn’t an object for them. And I agree, a longer application that includes for example screenshots etc. of your blog stats would be a much better way to ‘weed out’ bloggers that probably won’t be able to effectively promote the books.

      But I see what you mean about that tone of resentment. Especially combined with what Shannon was talking about with the silence around the change from industry professionals. I have no doubt there are some people that are happy about the change.

      I was chatting about this on Twitter and I think honestly I would like to see a specific blogger event develop out of this. That way it’s an event specifically made for bloggers to mingle and those that believe in blogger influence can put their books out at that event. And if not then it’s just a social event and that’s fine too.

      Reply
  • ShootingStarsMag

    December 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I do find it a bit upsetting that the price has changed so dramatically, but I also saw that authors have to pay even MORE than bloggers for 2017 and that seems a bit crazy too. I assume authors who are signing, etc. don’t have to pay to attend, just the ones that want to come along and possibly promote their book by handing out cards or something. At any rate, the conference definitely seems to be changing and I do wish it wasn’t because I’ve loved my time attending BEA. It was such a great experience in Chicago, especially, because I met a lot of great bloggers, authors, and found some fantastic books that I HOPE I’ve been able to do justice for in terms of promoting/spreading the word.

    -Lauren
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Lauren’s Gift Guide of Things She WantsMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      December 10, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Yes! I was super surprised at how much authors have to pay. Literary agents have the lower rate which I found kind of funny, because wouldn’t an agent only be promoting books by their authors or authors from their agency? And they’re not looking for clients there. I don’t exactly understand their role at BEA in terms of increasing book sales vs. an author, to be honest. But maybe I just don’t know enough about it?

      At least you’ve had a good experience there in the past. I suppose we’ll see how 2017 goes for them and whether they get better or worse results. I honestly just think it’ll make bloggers choose to go to other events over their event.

      Reply
      • Briana @ Pages Unbound

        December 10, 2016 at 9:42 pm

        It’s possibly a long-term networking thing for editors and literary agents? Maybe the publishing houses want the agents to be familiar with their current projects and brands so that when they DO acquire new books, they know which editors to submit them to. But I agree that, in terms of selling already-published books, agents may not be relevant unless you’re talking about international agents looking for international/translation rights to US books.
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        Reply
        • ltlibrarian

          December 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

          Maybe?? I could understand it from more of a networking perspective vs a creating sales perspective. I do know agents on Twitter that get ARCs and promote other books, but it’s definitely a rarity for me to see agents promoting books that aren’t their clients’ so I wondered.

          Reply

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