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.
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 😀 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?