Would you pay $30 to stand in line for hours only to miss out on events, come face to face with people who don’t know the meaning of the words “excuse me,” and end your day with more disappointment to show for your trouble? That’s what I did during this year’s Book Expo America Conference (BEA) Power Reader Day, better known as BookCon. Last year I said, “It was my first year at the event and it won’t be my last.” Well, I spoke too soon. What a letdown.
Why Did I Bother?
During BEA 2013, I had a blast walking the convention floor, meeting exhibitors, and loading up on freebies (because what other reason is there for attending a book expo than to get free books). This time around, the “Power Readers” were put into a Comic Con type line, then herded into a smaller section of the Javits Center, and told to stay put. If you did not purchase a BEA ticket, you were not permitted to go onto the exhibit floor. This is where I call bullshit. After previously having free reign of the exhibit floor, autographing area, and pretty much every available space included in the entire convention, being restricted to one fourth of that space was crippling. But, I guess you get what you pay for, so I shouldn’t complain. Nevertheless, I will anyway. Why on earth the event coordinators thought it OK to hold three events (BEA, BookCon, uPublishu) simultaneously under one roof is beyond me. It didn’t work. Had I known when I purchased my BEA tickets in December 2013 that they would be converted to some convoluted convention tickets (the equivalent being the cheap seats at a sporting event), I would have asked for a refund or a full upgrade to a BEA attendee.
Why the Change?
Who requested Power Readers be given their own convention at less the size and excitement than before? I realize I’m late to the party as I’ve only attended one BEA but my goodness … I can’t say I was impressed. The planners have to realize attaching the word “Con” to any event’s title changes its feel. Don’t get me wrong, I dig a good Con but BookCon just didn’t sit well with me. The lines, lack of things to see and do, and the barrage of fans were overwhelming in such a small space. Now, had we Power Readers had access to the entire floor of the Javits Center … well then, it would have been a great time for all. I’m not the only person who felt this event was a bit off. Just read the BookCon feed featured on the app of the same name. You’ll see what I mean.
What Sorta Worked
On to the good stuff: free books! While there weren’t a ton being given out, I got my fair share from a few exhibitors and by attending panels. I’m feeling so generous with my spoils that I’m going to give away a few to our readers, just for following our site. More on that later. The panels I was able to sit in on were awesome. The first was “10-Word Love Story” hosted by Macmillan and it had a cute vibe going for it. Attendees were given a heart shaped piece of paper on which to write a ten-word love story (pretty far-fetched, right?), hang it on the wall in the room where the panel was held, and have it be judged by your fellow writers. I’m guessing I didn’t win as I haven’t received any notification yet. Oh well. So, during this event there was also a book quiz going on; you know, answer a question about current and past YA novels to win a prize. I did luck out here and won a prize for an easy question so I was stoked. After collecting my winnings, I decided to get in line for the next panel I was determined not to miss, “Romance/New Adult Bad Boy Heroes.”
Despite my brother waltzing into the “Your Opinion Sucks! Special Edition: Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans; Best and Worst Book-to-Film Adaptations” panel, I had to stand in line for 45 minutes just to get in. Color me pissed. That just goes to show you how useful lines are at a Con. Anyway, the panel was awesome and a nice added bonus. The attendees told the panel of movie critics which book-to-movie adaptation they loved or loathed. It was informative as I learned we all have differing opinions on what makes a good movie—cast, screenplay, and direction. I would have loved the panel to continue for another hour but I don’t always get what I want.
What I most looked forward to finally arrived and I was thrilled to have a front row seat for the Romance panel. Four of the current best selling female authors answered questions on bad boys and romance—their area of expertise—while regaling us with tales showcasing their wit, intelligence, and overall personality. This I loved. This I wanted more of. The authors were Jennifer L. Armentrout aka J. Lynn, Sara MacLean, Jeaniene Frost, and Cora Cormack. I’ll admit I haven’t read all of these ladies (check out my Goodreads page) but I’m remedying that situation right now. Frost is already in my repertoire with her Night Huntress books. She is absolutely beautiful in person and very down to earth. I have several of Cormack’s books and plan to get started on them soon just from her appearance during this panel. She’s definitely an author to watch. MacLean is someone I’d love to be friends with because she’s funny, charismatic, and did I say funny? If you’ve ever met someone you instantly thought “we should be friends,” then you’ll know exactly what I mean. And Armentrout, well … she’s nice. Check out a few of the snippets I caught during their hour long session:
The authors on bad boys:
Cormack said she likes a bad boy to be “just bad enough we’re interested in seeing his progression to being a better character.”
Frost commented, “There’s something fun and freeing about writing a character who can be kind of a jerk at times … the character can say and do things a normal person would be appalled by. Humor is a big thing for me.”
MacLean stated, “There is a difference between an asshole and a scoundrel.” Don’t we know it!
Armentrout went on to add the bad boy has to have a sense of humor. “When a guy is an ass, he’s gotta deliver it with charm. Underneath it all, they have a good heart.”
Why the shift from paranormal to the “Hell’s Angels” kind of bad boys:
Cormack pointed out, “Everything runs on a cycle; you need something fresh. It’s the mystery in both we’re attracted to.”
Armentrout didn’t see a difference between the two.
MacLean thought it was “really about power; as long as the hero has a ton of power…” Finish that thought as you see fit.
Frost chimed in with an interesting comment: “I think it’s about the character. The character draws the people in, shows their humanity.”
Favorite bad boy moments:
Armentrout dominated this question with her response about her book Be With Me, with her favorite moment being the “road head “scene. (We didn’t get more from the other others during this question.)
A resounding best moment for the authors in their respective books is when the hero is broken and exposed.
And finally, why all the alphas? What about the beta guys in books?
MacLean lead off with, “I think in real life, you always want the beta.”
Frost jumped in with an astute observation on why we love and fall for these characters: “As an author, if you don’t believe it, how can you expect readers to believe it?”
The session was then opened to a Q&A period. One audience question concerned the effect of YA and New Adult heroes on young and teen girls:
Armentrout argued, “What is in a book is not real. Children and adults from the beginning need to be parented.”
MacLean led the charge as someone who is appalled by books where the hero is seen as a jerk or abusive but is glorified or looked at as the guy you want to meet and fall in love with. “Our job as writers is to talk about it. Some books do set unrealistic expectations.”
Frost concluded with, “The average reader has intelligence and can distinguish between fact and fiction.” What a touchy subject to get into. I wish we’d had more time to explore it but I think the authors all made valid points.
So there it is, folks. With sore feet, a light haul, and $30 fewer in my pocket (that being my lunch, not my BookCon ticket), I made my way back to small town PA, happy to have escaped the disastrous experiment known as BookCon 2014. Never again, I say; never again.
YEC will be giving out a few books to new followers, re-tweeters, and fans. If you like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or retweet this article, you can be entered into a drawing for one of the following: a sample chapter (on disc) of The Fallen Shadows: Into the Light by Rebecca R. Cohen(out in September); Angel Killer: A Jessica Blackwood Novel by Andrew Mayne (out in September); Once Burned: A Night Prince Novel by Jeaniene Frost; and Wait for You by Jennifer L. Armentrout writing as J. Lynn. So get to following, liking and re-tweeting! And if you attended BEA 2014 or BookCon, drop me a line or tweet me @ellemoe and let us know what you thought of it.
Photo credit: Elle/YEC © 2014 Your Entertainment Corner. All rights reserved.
© 2014, Elle. All rights reserved.
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