America’s premier book event, BookExpo America, continues to evolve, and is in every way reflective of the evolving industry it serves. This year, the four-day event, May 28–31 at the Javits Center in Manhattan, is set to attract close to 30,000 people, a turnout unprecedented in the book fair’s history.

The BEA’s growth is owing to more than just an improving economy: it is also evidence that the digital revolution has been well-absorbed by the business of publishing and selling books, and that the stunning growth in self-publishing is now a legitimate part of the industry. And although until quite recently, unaffiliated consumers were nowhere to be found at such a trade-focused event, they are now front and center. In fact, they will have their own entrance to the show.

BookExpo event director Steve Rosato believes he has crafted a convention that makes significant advances in key areas “that will pay big dividends for the long-term in serving and providing value to the whole publishing industry.” Among this year’s innovations, he points to BookCon, the reformatted consumer element he pioneered two years ago as Power Readers; the adventurous Global Market Forum; the deeper integration of self-published authors; and attempts to bring new publishers—i.e., startups—into the fold.

But first things first. Before the trade show floor opens on Thursday, there will already have been a full day of events. On Wednesday morning, the Global Market Forum commences—which this year does not feature a guest country, as in years previous, but the art and commerce of translation itself. “This global summit,” says Rosato, “is a logical evolution for BEA as international participation has outpaced every other segment at BEA aside from digital.” Also on Wednesday, the BEA and ABA panels and signings get under way; they will reach a total of nearly 500 events by the end of the show on Saturday afternoon.

Rosato expects in the area of 20,000 industry folk this year, made up of about 12,000 attendees and 8,000 exhibitors and rights personnel. The target for BookCon, which will take place on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., is 7,500 consumers paying $30 a head for a full day of boldface authors appearing, talking, and signing books. Altogether, says Rosato, “this is a significant upturn in what BEA delivers.” Also on Saturday is the uPubU conference, launched successfully last year, catering to self-publishers, and this time round presenting an Author Hub created exclusively for DIY authors so they might have a presence on the BEA trade show floor to network and benefit from special programming.

A late-developing element to the show is truly the newest twist. On Thursday, publishing technology startups will be making their pitches to leaders in venture capital, technology, and publishing organizations in what is being dubbed “Startup Alley.” Fittingly, a recent startup (2012), Librify, started by publishing industry veterans, is organizing the events. Startups will compete to appear before judges who will decide prize winners and potential investment candidates on the spot. The first prize of $10,000 will be sponsored by ICG Ventures Inc., an Ingram Content Group company. The second prize, $5,000, will be sponsored by Sourcebooks. It is another vehicle, says Rosato, “that brings tech, investment, and entrepreneurial energy into BEA.”

In this pages that follow, you will find a more in-depth look at BookCon; a handy tour around the great independent bookstores in New York City; a select listing of exhibitors; and two features about the galleys that will be available on the show floor—still, let’s face it, the heart of the BEA.

Read our extended coverage below.

BEA 2014: BookCon’s Debut

BEA 2014: Adult Galleys to Grab

BEA 2014: Children’s Galleys to Grab

BEA 2014: A Busman’s Holiday

BEA 2014: Around the Booths

BEA 2014: Booths by Numbers