Up Close and (un)Conventional – RT vs BEA

Posted 27 May, 2016 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Discussion Posts / 32 Comments

Up Close and (un)Conventional - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Up Close and (un)Conventional RT vs BEA

Welcome to this week’s Up Close and (un)Conventional. This is where I discuss both things that have to do with reading and blogging, and things that just have to do with life in general. This week, I’m gong to try to compare BEA and RT, explain the differences between them, and share which I preferred. Now, I’m not a specialist, I’ve been to exactly one RT (last year in Dallas) and one BEA (this year in Chicago). However, there are some very big differences and I’m not sure if those have been discussed anywhere else.

BEA Jamie Lee Curtis - (un)Conventional Bookviews
Jamie Lee Curtis was the moderator at the Children’s Author Breakfast in Chicago
RT15 Ilona Andrews - (un)Conventional Bookviews
Breakfast interrupted at RT in 2015 with Ilona and Gordon Andrews










One of the biggest differences is that the RT convention happens at a hotel, and most of the authors, and many of the other participants actually stay at that same hotel. This means that if you go to the bar for a drink, it’s almost impossible to not bump into one of your favorite authors – who are also there for a drink. And then, conversations ensue. And fun. And maybe another drink πŸ˜€ And of course, many of your blogger friends may be hanging out in the bar, too, and so it’s a very easy place to meet up when you don’t really have anything else going on. That being said, there are a LOT of different panels, parties and competitions at RT, so if you don’t have anything else going on, that’s probably by choice. And that’s all good – we all need a little break every now and then.

Another difference that I felt was very big is that BEA is more geared towards ‘professionals’. Librarians and booksellers are present and welcome at RT as well, but there aren’t that many publishers present (or maybe they are, and they are more discreet?) so it feels more relaxed and fun-like at RT. And, as I said, it’s very easy to bump into people everywhere in the hotel. BEA happens in a convention center, and in Chicago, the McCormick Place was very close to Magnificent Mile and the Millenium Park, but it wasn’t smack in the middle of everything. The convention center was huge, but the space was easy to navigate, and in some ways, it was nice to leave the hotel in the morning, go outside, and get to the convention. I did feel that the time I got to spend with authors was very, very short in Chicago, though. Because the times when most authors were present it was for their own signings, and so, there were people standing in line to see them and get their books signed, which means a quick hello, maybe a photo and a signature was all they had time for.

I got a lot of ARCs from both BEA and from RT, and one thing I liked at BEA was that I picked up books in genres I may not read too often, so I picked up more new-to-me authors there. One of the things I really liked at RT was that it was possible to get e-books, not only paper books. That helps quite a bit when it comes to space, as I don’t have a dedicated library in my house. I do love the beautiful covers that adorn my shelves after BEA, but I also like to just be able to whip out my iPad or my kindle and find books there as well.

At RT, I was lucky enough to have breakfast next to Ilona and Gordon Andrews one morning… and on jelly-legs, I went over to their table (yes, BEFORE they got their food, but AFTER they got their coffee / tea) and said hello, and asked for a photo. It was pretty early in the morning, but they were very gracious and friendly, and they even got one of their friends to actually take our picture so I didn’t have to take a mediocre selfie. I had dinner with JA Huss one evening, lunch with Ashlyn Macnamara, drinks with several other authors, and long chats around different places at the hotel. And it was so much fun to participate in the different parties every night at RT, most of those were included in the price, and there were raffle prizes and shenanigans aplenty.

So, I guess it kind of depends on why you want to go to a convention is important when you choose. Of course, the cost is not the same for BEA and RT, either. RT is a bit more expensive, but we got a pretty good deal on the hotel – we were three people in a double King room, and we had more than enough space. I guess if you want to have the bloggercon, and maybe get to meet publishers you are in contact with throughout the year regarding ARCs and author interviews, BEA is the place for you! However, if you want to be in a more relaxed atmosphere, where you have a chance to meet with authors for more than just two minutes, RT is where you want to be! I have already booked my plane tickets to go to RT in Atlanta in May next year… maybe I’ll see you there?

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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32 responses to “Up Close and (un)Conventional – RT vs BEA

  1. I’d like to go to RT at some point. I think BEA is nice though because I love the various books you can find and it just seems like more bloggers I know go there. However, I like the relaxed atmosphere of RT – that you described and all the fun events they put on. I used to review books for Romantic Times Magazine, so that’s the main reason I want to go. While reviewing there, I kept wishing I could go to the convention so I could meet some of these authors! haha


    • I hope you’ll be able to go to RT at the same time as me, Lauren. The more relaxed atmosphere, and the fact that it’s a convention for romance readers really makes it my kind of con, too! There were so many of my favorite authors there last year it was really crazy.
      I had no idea you used to review for RT Magazine, that’s awesome! And a great excuse to make the trip to the RT con one year, too πŸ˜‰

  2. I’ve been to one RT and it was great but not sure it’s something I’d do again just because of the cost. I’ve never had a desire to go to BEA mainly because most of the books I see other bloggers getting are not my typical reads. LOL

    I think I’m going to start trying some of the small book events to have more author time and less expense. Great post!

    • LOL Jennifer πŸ™‚ I think one of the things I really appreciated with BEA was that I picked up some very interesting-looking books I wouldn’t have gone and bought on my own.
      RT is a lot of fun, though, and all in all, I think that it might end up not being that much more expensive than BEA, as everything happens in the same place. I hope you’ll find some smaller events so that you’ll still be able to meet some authors and bloggers and have some bookish fun πŸ˜€

  3. I appreciate your analysis. I wondered when I first heard of BEA long after I heard of RT Convention. I knew a book expo would be difference than a romance book convention of course, but I also knew that people went to both and loved them. This comparison helped know why they are good for different reasons.
    There is one, Lori Foster’s Readers and Authors Get Together, in Cincinnati, OH, that actually seems a good fit if folks who want to have good time with the authors and each other, but on a smaller scale and less expensive. My blogging partner, Shari has gone and loved it. For some reason the big ones are intimidating to me.

    But yay that you get to go for another RT this next year. You do make them sound fun. And that is good that you can get e-book versions especially if you have to travel with luggage on planes.

    • I heard of BEA first, but still kind of ended up going to RT before I went to BEA πŸ™‚
      I think Lori Foster’s RAGT is a lot of fun, she’s wonderful, very sweet and graceful with her fans. I am going to a smaller festival in the South of France this fall, taking my oldest daughter with me. We’re both huge CoHo fans, and she’ll be there, as will KA Tucker. It will be my first very small author do, and I look forward to that as well.
      I hope you’ll be able to go to one of the smaller ones, Sophia Rose, maybe you can build up to one of the bigger ones?

  4. Both sound like a good time. I don’t really have the urge to attend book events like this, but it might be nice to at least try one sometime. I think RT was in Vegas one year – I should’ve gone to that one.

  5. Very well said, my dear. πŸ˜‰ I really did think both cons were fun but for different reasons. And you’ll see those reasons when my post goes live. πŸ˜‰ However, getting to be with YOU at both made the experience INCREDIBLE! I can’t wait til Atlanta!! **BIG HUGS**

    • Of course both were fun!! There were bloggers, books and authors πŸ™‚ And for me, too, spending time with YOU was what made it so amazing πŸ™‚ I can’t wait til Atlanta either, and I have to laugh at myself for having my plane tickets already πŸ˜€ *BIG HUGS*

  6. Vi @Gone With The Books

    Thanks for this very well written post πŸ™‚ was a pleasure to read it.
    best wishes
    Vi @Gone With The Books

  7. I would really like to go to RT, but because the cause is so much more to get into RT, I really need to be able to split hotel cost with a couple people like I did at BEA and I am not sure who all is going. I liked BEA but RT sounds like a lot of fun and you get to know the authors on a more personal level and that would be cool. πŸ™‚ So I guess I will just have to see how things go money wise. πŸ™‚

  8. I have heard of both these conventions, but never realized how different they were. I did knew they were different, but as I never attended one myself it’s hard to form a correct image of these conventions. It’s neat you went to both of these now and can compare them. BEA does sound a bit bigger and that’s neat you picked up a lot of new to your authors, but I also like the sound of how RT is at a hotel and how you can more casually meet authors. And it’s probably handy that you can go back to your room easily and put some of your books there before you go back down. Also the image I have from BEA is that there are more different genres/ books because it’s so big, is that correct? I still hope to be able to attend a book convention eventually, although I probably will look for one in Europe, so I won’t have to go into a plane.

    • Yes, being able to go back to the room for a while – either to leave some books there, or just to have some down time – is really nice, Lola. You are correct, BEA has books in all different genres, and both fiction and non-fiction, whereas RT really is for romance books, including both YA, NA and adult stories.

  9. Berls

    I completely agree! I think I liked RT better in terms of time spent with bloggers and authors, but I got to meet Michelle at BEA so the makes it special. I think I got more books that I wanted for me at BEA too, since I got to pickore often.

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to swing RT next year – between cost and timing it may not work. I wish RT were in the summer, it would be more doable. But since it’s in Atlanta where my Sister in law lives, it’s possible.

    • Of course, meeting both Michelle and Stormi in person made BEA special, Berls! Then again, RT was special for me last year, because it was the first time in my life I actually met some fellow bloggers πŸ™‚
      Since I don’t know what will happen for me work-wise next year, I figured I’d get my plane tickets straight away, so that I can tell my director that I have a trip planned already πŸ˜€
      I do hope you’ll be able to come to Atlanta, Berls! We need to spend some quality time together.

  10. Ok first of all, what is RT? Lol. I hadn’t even heard of BEA until this year since I started blogging less than a year ago, so I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to knowing all these things. They both sound great though! Definitely different, but I imagine they’d both be very fun to attend at least once. It does sound like it’d be nice getting to actually talk and hang out like at RT, but I feel like I probably wouldn’t know what to say to anyone and would feel more comfortable at a big thing like BEA. None of them are close enough for me to actually go any time soon anyway, but maybe one day πŸ™‚

    • Sorry about using only the acronyms, Kristen! I had no idea what RT was either, before Brandee persuaded me to go last year. Romantic Times convention, there is an online and a paper magazine with reviews of romance titles. And for quite a few years, the people behind that plan a yearly convention for authors and readers.
      RT is really for romance books, but across other kinds of genres, like YA, NA, Contemporary, Adult, Historical etc. And since I read A LOT of romance, it’s a place where I have read many more of the authors than I had at BEA.
      I have quite a long way to go, as I need to cross the Atlantic first of all – but now that I have stopped smoking, saving even more for these trips shouldn’t be too difficult.

  11. RT is MORE expensive than BEA?!?!?! Really?? That surprises the crap out of me!!! I’ve done the RAGT (Lori Foster’s) and it was mega cheap for me BUT you have to buy all your books so that’s probably where the price difference is, right????

    Great analysis!!!

    • Yes, RT is more expensive than BEA, but you have stuff going on all day long, from early morning until quite late at night – all included in that price. And if you paid for any of the extra stuff at BEA, you probably ended up paying as much as you would pay for RT. I did three author breakfast / tea things, and I had the tickets from the avid reader pass, so my total for BEA ended up being more or less the same as a ticket for RT. But for those who only get the main fee for the three days of BEA, that’s definitely cheaper!
      Also, at both RT and BEA, most books were free. At the last day of RT, for the great Book Fair, there were some authors who were selling their books, while others were giving away books. I didn’t stay there for very long, though, because it was very crowded – even more so than the other events.

  12. Awww man I? can’t wait for the year when I can afford to leave the UK and go to one of these πŸ™‚ Tehy sound so amazing and fun. I’d have no one from the UK to go with me though and navigating the US alone seems scary

    • I have to cross over from Europe as well, Lauren, and I usually travel through London, so I could pick you up there πŸ˜‰
      There’s a book festival taking place in the South of France from September 30-October 2 if that could be something for you…

  13. “One of the things I really liked at RT was that it was possible to get e-books, not only paper books.”

    That is so interesting!

    I just looked at the price page though and HOLY SMOKES! $495! O_O For BEA I’ve never paid more than like $150. I would have liked to give it a try, but at that price I’m not sure it’s going to happen lol.

    • It lasts for five days, so you have more convention time than at BEA, Ashley. Plus there are some amazing panels by bloggers and authors (sometimes together) that are interesting. And there is stuff going on all day long, from 10 am til midnight.

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