On Thursday, for the first time, BEA is opening its doors to the public. But not too far. This year there will be only a thousand consumers, aka Power Readers. To control attendance, BEA created invitations with a special code identifying which customers of which dozen New York City bookstores or patrons of the New York Public Library’s Science, Business and Industry Library—or Power Readers—found out about the show. “The concept of having consumers is more important than the number of consumers,” said event director Steve Rosato in a note to BEA’s executive steering committee. Power Readers, he believes, will encourage more readers to follow BEA, both through Web streaming and on social networks.

“It’s a good idea and long overdue,” says Chris Doeblin, owner of Book Culture, near Columbia University, one of the first stores to sign up for invitations. Self-described “book nerd” Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, agrees. After attending Comic-Con, which is open to the public, she was glad to be able to offer her customers a chance to experience BEA. “I think it’s good that they’re thinking creatively about BEA,” she says. So is she. As an added incentive to sign up through Greenlight, the Brooklyn store gave those who purchased tickets with their code a $5 store gift certificate.

Although a number of publishers have embraced Power Readers at the show, Random House Publishing Group, in particular, has gone all out. “RHPG saw this as a great opportunity to connect directly with dedicated readers,” says Theresa Zoro, senior v-p, director of publicity, RHPG. As the official Power Reader sponsor, RHPG has put together Power Reader gift bags filled with advance reading copies, hot titles, and other goodies, to be given out at registration along with a specially designed Power Reader badge. Random House (booth 3940) will give away prizes, including an electronic reading device.

On its I Have More Books than Friends Facebook page, RHPG added a button for Power Readers to click through to sign up to be “ambassadors” and get news on authors and books and updates on BEA. And today before Power Readers are admitted to the show, Random House hosted a breakfast for bloggers and some consumers with New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.

The main thing consumers coming to the show can expect is one of the things that has long enticed booksellers: literary swag. Most publishers are offering free books, with some giving away galleys and others doling out already-published titles. A representative for Penguin says the publisher held a contest in which the prize was two tickets to Consumer Day. The publisher is also giving away tote bags filled with “a selection” of galleys.

HarperCollins organized a nonbook giveaway for the day and will be raffling off posters of Martin Scorsese’s 2010 film, Shutter Island, signed by Dennis Lehane (whose novel served as the basis for the film). HC is also giving away print copies of Publishers Lunch’s “BEA Buzz Books,” which is a collection of excerpts from titles being promoted at the show.

Workman Publishing has organized an event for Thursday on the Downtown Author Stage that will test the knowledge of a handful of Staten Island sixth-graders. The event is called the Brain Quest Challenge and is tied to a collection of trivia card decks from the publisher. Workman will also be giving out the Brain Quest decks to those coming to the show tomorrow at its branded Town & Country minivan stationed at the entrance to the Javits Center. In addition to the trivia cards, Workman will also be handing out galleys of The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (Sept.), posters, and a branded tote bag.

For Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury USA, giveaways will also be the thrust of the day. S&S is going to be handing out the “Atria Mystery Sampler”; signed postcards from Kirstie Alley, who will be signing copies of her book tomorrow, 10–10:30 a.m., in the publisher’s booth (3657); and thumb drives featuring audio samples from a selection of S&S titles. For Bloomsbury, the freebies will be a children’s title by Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass, as well as the house’s lead adult fiction title for fall, Lance Weller’s Wilderness.