Books are what makes this event so special. The publishing industry pulls out all stops to bring in authors who sign their soon to be published books, both fiction and non-fiction, young adult and children, mysteries, popular and expected best sellers.
The industry provides a huge amount of free books over the three day event, which authors sign. Its a great way to get your hands on the newest books that the industry is highlighting. I find that many books are in the young adult, teen and children area, which makes the event very good for librarians looking for new books for up and coming readers.
A good strategy is to get the Book Expo guide to the author signings and plot out which books based on the synopsis and what can be gleaned on line to determine the best books to wait on line for (or go with a whole passel of co-workers) as there are too many free books available at the same time to score (I mean obtain) the books that you want.
The event typically has some big draws. Sonia Sotomayor, the United States Supreme Court Justice is giving a speech on Thursday May 29 from 6:15 to 7:15 pm about her life and what made her write a children's book. All you need is your pass.
In addition, the Book Expo typically has Author breakfasts. On May 30, the Adult Book and Author Breakfast will include Rachel Maddow, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Malcolm Gladwell among others. On Friday, May 31, the Children's Book and Author Breakfast (a 1000 attendee event) will be co-hosted by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, daughters of President George W. Bush and they will be joined by actress Lupita Nyong'o to discuss her new children's book along with Tomi Adeyemi and Eoin Colfer, the author of the Artemis Fowl books.
Typically at Book Expo there are some authors that the show ranks as so illustrious that the show only allows select people into get their books. There typically is a line prior to the show to nab red tickets to get into the lines for these books and these tickets are on a first come first serve basis. This year the Book Expo is also selling an Avid Reader Pass which will allow you access to certain authors online before the Book Expo and you will get a "front of the line pass" so you get to skip to the head of a line.
Another technicality is that there are two areas to obtain books. The Book Expo typically has 10-15 separate lines in an author signing area where people stand in line for books. In addition, the major publishing houses also offer free books, but typically give out tickets to their book signings at their stands prior to the book signing. No ticket, no book, so it pays to go to the Publishing houses prior to obtain your ticket.
Finally, its a good idea to get to Book Expo early because the publishing houses also give out free books especially on Thursday and Friday morning before the events get started. Surf their areas to get free books.