Javits is a soul-sucking place. It's in the middle of nowhere, a PITA to get to; your options are basically the crosstown bus or a taxi, and as a result once you finally get there, you feel kind of trapped. A colleague today noted that after you've been at Javits for a few hours you feel like you've been on an airplane. It's that same kind of hollow, disoriented sensation. Nobody's favorite part of travel (or work conventions).
But BEA itself is an amazing experience. A huge array of publishers, from the large to the small, show up and staff a booth. There are giveaways and signings, panel discussions and Q&As, and many, many chances for Courtney to pick up more ARCs and publisher catalogs than she can reasonably carry.
It's always a great education, to boot, on what the publishers see as their major priorities for the fall. BEA, and especially an author signing or a giveaway at BEA, represents a major investment of publisher resources. By expending their resources, they are telegraphing to the booksellers and librarians (and book bloggers and journalists) in attendance at the fair what they think the Big Books are going to be. In essence, Publisher A is trying to tell Bookseller B what Book Buyer C (that's me!) is going to want to buy her friends and family for Christmas.
Preaching to the choir here: If you're reading this blog, I'm assuming you're a book person, in some sense of the phrase. If you care about books, don't forget that books make great gifts. You can even give Kindle editions now, if that's how your recipient rolls. Right, Mom?