- Fizzy Thoughts: to FoB or not to FoB

to FoB or not to FoB

Sunday, April 26, 2009


If you have read any of these blogs (Tracy at Shelf Life, Trish at Hey, Lady, Whatcha Readin'?, Lisa at Books on the Brain, Amy at My Friend Amy, Ti at Book Chatter and other stuff, Natasha at Maw Books Blog, Florinda at The 3 R’s, Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty and her husband Anjin) you’ve probably heard by now that I spent the weekend at the Los Angles Times Festival of Books (hereafter to be referred to as FoB).

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

21 comment(s):

bermudaonion said...

Oh how I wish I could attend BGE, but BEA is taking all of my travel money this year.

Ti said...

I signed up for BGE updates yesterday :) We'll see. You said it is usually in October and Oct is a tricky month for me.

bethany said...

I am pretty sure I'll make it down for this one. The others seem so far out, and who knows I could even have another kid by then!! ahhh. (no announcement yet :) I think the smaller setting of the BGE suits me. Are you guys going to stay in hotels?

Terri B. said...

I've been blog hopping and visiting those who got to meet up at the FoB. It sounds like you all had a fantastic time! I live in the L.A. area and was looking forward to joining the group, but was unable to do so. Maybe next year!

Florinda said...

OK, I just signed up for BGE updates. My book club has gone dormant, so I'm glad you mentioned that you don't have to be in one to attend. Like Ti, October is a tricky month for me (my wedding anniversary and a few birthdays), but we'll see how things go. I've never been up to San Jose.

I'm pretty sure that you're right about some of the crowds at FoB coming for the celebrities - they may have books out, but they're not not known for being writers.

Glad to hear that you're planning to come back for FoB next year - it was great hanging out with you!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Sounds like BGE would be a lot of fun and I hope you thoroughly enjoy yourselves! Great to meet you Jill!

softdrink said...

Kathy - next year??? :-D

Ti and Florinda - maybe they'll decide on another month? We can hope...

bethany - We stayed in a hotel right across the street from the convention center...it was so convenient. Maybe we can all double up this year to save money?

Natasha - right back atcha! :-D

Terri - yes, definitely next year!

Literary Feline said...

Yes, the FoB is definitely crowded. It wasn't nearly as crowded the first year I attended and then the year it rained, it was wonderful. I hadn't heard of BGE before it was mentioned Saturday. I will have to look into possibly going, although I'm not sure it will happen this year.

It was great meeting you, Jill! And thank you again for the book.

LisaMM said...

I'm fully planning on it!! But a lot can happen between now and October. It's tough with kids to plan that far ahead but hopefully it will work out. I like FOB but BGE does sound more my speed, with the smaller salons and author interaction.

And in case I haven't mentioned it 5 or 6 times, it was GREAT meeting you~

Wrighty said...

I would LOVE to go to any of those! I'm in NY state so the chances are extremely, extremely slim. I haven't even been to any in my own state and I'm sure there are good ones in NY city. I'm on the other side of the state so it would be great if they ever had some in Buffalo, Rochester and that area. I'll have to find out more about what's in my neck of the woods. So glad you had a good time and I look forward to hearing more about it.

Beth F said...

I doubt I could manage to fly out for either great event, but I'm sure looking forward to my first BEA.

Jo-Jo said...

I would just LOVE to go that that Book Group Expo...I have heard such good things about it! I'll have to see if I can talk my hubby into a little vacation in October.

Ok..I'm curious...what is BEA?

Heather J. said...

I'm glad to hear you compare the FoB and BGE events. I've wanted to attend BGE since the first year it began but Maryland is a bit far. However, knowing that lots of my fellow bloggers will be there as well MAY just be enough of an inducement. :)

Glad to hear you all have such a good time together. Wish I could have been there!

Trish said...

I've loved reading about everyone's experience at the FoB this past weekend and it's made me realize that I have NO idea if anything like this even exists in Dallas (or those other cities...we Texans are used to the driving as well). Definitely need to do some looking!

Glad you guys had so much fun, Jill!

Stephanie said...

I hope to attend BGE but am just waiting for them to announce the date (my daughter's birthday is in October and there is a local breast cancer walk on that same day, so I am hoping BGE lands on a different weekend)!!

Ali said...

Thanks for the summary of these events, they both sound like a lot of fun! I may make it to one of the two in 2010, but the BGE is unlikely this year because we have other travel plans in July, August, and September.

Nymeth said...

It does sound exhausting, but also so fun! I wish I could have been there, hanging out with you all.

Ladytink_534 said...

Wow it does sound exhausting! Wish it could have been closer so I could have gone! :(

Gentle Reader said...

My parents live in the Bay Area and we visit quite a bit--maybe next year I'll go to the BGE, and we'll meet up there! I plan to go back to the FOB, mostly because attending panels with fellow bloggers was so much fun. Truth be told, it's a far too crowded event for me to absolutely love it, but the opportunities for attending interesting panels and meeting authors is too good to pass up!

trish said...

Well said! We've got to work on these bloggers early and often. :-) I'll link back to this post when I post about the FoB. I couldn't have done a better comparison!

Joanne said...

Great post! It really helped with understanding the structure and scope of both events. Thanks Jill

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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