I’m still exhausted.
Later this week I’ll be posting about all of the panels I attended, but today I’m going to compare the FoB to the only other large book event I’ve been to, the Book Group Expo (BGE) in San Jose.
First, the FoB. This event is truly massive. While I knew there would be thousands of people there, I underestimated how exhausting it is to be in that big of a crowd. The FoB is a mix of author panels (maybe 20-30 each day to choose from), event stages (with chefs, music, children’s entertainment, and Bob Barker to name a few) and hundreds of vendor booths (everything from food to books to crafts to Dianetics to people with a cause). The FoB takes place on the UCLA campus, and it is spread out, so there is a lot of walking (good), but also much elbowing of your way through crowds (bad…at least for this small town girl).
BGE, on the other hand, is a much smaller event. With only a few hundred attendees, it is contained within a small area of the San Jose Convention Center. There are author panels (called salons) and vendor booths, but it is all on a much smaller scale.
I would say the FoB focuses on books while BGE focuses on reading. This is a sweeping generalization, but I think it’s a good way to characterize the two events. Since the FoB is in Los Angeles, there were lots of celebrity authors (Alyssa Milano and Henry Winkler to name just two) and speakers, as well as a large number of LA-based authors. I’m also guessing a large number of attendees were there just to see these speakers, or for the events in the children’s area or on the cooking stage. There were also a large number of authors I had never heard of (this isn’t a bad thing; I’m just mentioning this to compare it to BGE).
Since BGE targets book groups, the chance of knowing many of the authors is greater. You certainly do not have to be in a book group to attend (I’m not, and I’ve enjoyed both years that I’ve attended). BGE is a more intimate experience. The salons are smaller (in one case last year, there were only 20 of us) and you feel like you are part of the discussion. Both events allow for questions, but at BGE the chance of an author remembering you when you later have your book signed is much greater. There is also the occasional opportunity to engage an author in conversation. I’d say BGE is an enjoyable experience, and for book bloggers, it is potentially more productive if you are looking to make connections with authors. Last year at BGE, there was also some representation from the publishing industry. However, that might not continue (it’s not really geared towards publishers) so I wouldn’t plan on attending for that reason. However, I didn’t really see the publishers at FoB, either.
Since I live equal distances from both events (it’s a 3 ½ hour drive to UCLA and a 3 hour drive to San Jose) and I live in an area with a deplorable lack of bookish events, it is totally worth it for me to attend both (hey, I live in California…we’re used to driving!). And unless something comes up, I do plan on going to the FoB again next year. But I look forward to BGE even more.
So…you all need to join us this year! The highlight of FoB was meeting some of my fellow book bloggers. And now Trish and I are campaigning to get more of you to attend the Book Group Expo. Check out the Book Group Expo website to subscribe to updates and find out when it will happen. We’d love to see you there