BookExpo, America’s largest and longest-running publishing industry gathering, came to an end this week. The annual event started in 1947 as the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show (or “ABA”), and was held in Washington, D.C., for many years before moving different cities, and settling in New York. Over time, it changed considerably, but it was always the case that the parties, dinners, and author receptions were as memorable for attendees as the show itself. For a proper sendoff of “The Old ABA,” publishing industry professionals shared some of their fondest and funniest recollections with PW.

In decades past it was common to have unscheduled delightful conversations with editors and booksellers. I recall running into Peter Mayer at a small club in New Orleans because we were both fans of Allan Toussaint. In Miami an amazing lunch conversation with Rick Simonson, Erroll McDonald, Henry Louis Gates and Sonny Mehta. —Paul Yamazaki, head buyer, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

Sore feet, hangovers, meetings galore. Best memories? My first ABA as a Macy's buyer. (Wha?) Meeting up with ABA's Dan Cullen only to find we were wearing identical seersucker suits. The 10-year PGW "were you at these parties" postcard. The 10 years plus of PGW parties. A hug from Margaret Maupin. Paul Yamazaki's smile. The first indie bookseller and author Book Sense awards lunch. (We had no idea if it would fly—and it was a love fest.) Introducing Khaled Hosseini to his hero, Ray Bradbury. A cabbie who wanted to give me his 600-page manuscript. Double-sided. Making my patented ARE swirling towers. The first Vintage Contemporary author lunches. Did I mention the PGW parties?? Friends and booklovers all! —Carl Lennertz, executive director, Children’s Book Council

One of my fondest but more surreal star-sighting memories of BookExpo includes seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Clinton, and Heidi Fleiss up close—insane, surreal. But made less insane because that’s what so unusual about Book Expo, someone like Al Gore might be two aisles over but the lines for Rick Steves or Nancy Pearl are twice as long and the fans extra jubilant. But, of course, BookExpo has been so much more—I’ve been there with the union workers long after the main lights had been turned off, building a “box” for an ungainly spinner; there for the secret whiskey parties in certain aisles; there to observe unsightly hangovers; there crying in the bathroom on the last day of the show (exhaustion) (hangover?). The extra thick carpet was always hilarious, it’s like you're pounding away on concrete with a thin faux carpet veneer and suddenly your heels are stuck in the Simon & Schuster aisle. What of the books, though, you ask? Well who goes to BookExpo for the books? (Kidding/not kidding.) Oh, and in case you’re wondering: yes, I do have an connection to get extra tickets to the PGW party (R.I.P.). —Emily Cook, co-founder (with Richard Nash), Cursor Marketing Services

I think my first one was as a bookseller in Miami (93?) when it was still the ABA. And one of the early Rock Bottom Remainders concert. I will miss meeting friends from all over the country. Doing the annual catch-up with folx I would meet once a year. I remember my first BEA (in NYC) from the publishing side and spending time with Jonathan Safran Foer, Tim Egan, and Alison Bechdel! —Sanj Kharbanda, director of sales and marketing, Beacon Press

In 1990 the ABA was in Las Vegas, I was Viking’s publicity director then and it seems like I spent most of my time there putting on author parties and lunches. We had rented out a ballroom in the Mirage Hotel to have a 9 p.m. dessert and drinks party for Ken Kesey, who had driven down from Oregon in a painted school bus to promote his book The Further Inquiry, about the infamous 1964 Merry Pranksters’ bus ride across the country. Ken and I went into the ballroom that afternoon to scout the location, and we discovered that there were some huge doors on the side of the ballroom. We also discovered those doors opened. So that evening, at the height of the party, without telling the hotel authorities, we pulled the doors open and the bus, with Pranksters riding on top and The Who’s “Magic Bus” blaring on the bus’s sound system, was driven right into the center of the party. I think anyone who was there, and there were hundreds of attendees, will never forget that. —Paul Slovak, v-p and executive editor, Viking

Like most conventions, the parties were the best. For many years Consortium organized and our publishers sponsored an Independent Publisher Party. One of the most memorable for me was a party at an art studio in Wicker Park. Wicker Park was not the greatest neighborhood back then and after the party there were no cabs to be found. Two good Samaritans shepherded several of us into this fantastic old bar, the Club Foot, and called us a cab. As I got in the cab having had a little too much to drink, I hit the corner of my face on the door. Fortunately no permanent damage, but one hell of a black eye. Needless to say I was wearing sunglasses the rest of the show. —Julie Schaper, president, Consortium Book Sales

I will have to say that many of my very best memories of Book Expo all revolve around the literary debauchery that took place at the Hellfire Society parties. Some of the stories that have come out of that annual gathering have now achieved almost mythic status, and I have to thank Ruth Liebmann, Patty Berg, and Carla Gray for their friendship and for co-hosting that event with me for so many years. —Craig Popelars, publisher, Tin House Books

I was walking through the Penguin booth when I choked on a starlight mint, making tears run down my cheeks. I didn't realize I was in the middle of a John Green meet and greet. One of the men in suits patted me on the shoulder and said, 'Is he really that great?' —Vicki Erwin, former owner, Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo.

In the last year or so as the fair could no longer fill the Javits Center by itself and Reed rented the lower floor to other small conferences, I walked in the uptown entrance and merged with the crowd going into the doors in front of me. It took a moment before I realized I’d walked into the Cannabis Conference. I should have known to not to follow those in business suits (since cannabis is definitely now Big Business) and instead stick with the informally dressed publishing folks. —Bill Smith, head of trade sales at MIT Press

There were a bunch of ABAs at McCormick Place in the '90s and Ann Christopherson [my business partner] was on the ABA board for most of them. When she was moved up to president, I had the sinking feeling that my job at the bookstore was going to be a lot more demanding. I must have looked pretty glum coming out of the town meeting because Avin Domnitz, who was CEO of the ABA at the time, put his arm around my shoulders and said he understood, but the store was going to get a lot of free publicity and become much more widely known nationally. He knew exactly what to say to make me dry my tears and see the bright side. —Linda Bubon, former co-owner of Women & Children First

An incredibly memorable night that began for me at a posh Knopf dinner where I picked up autographed posters for Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers book and ended essentially pole dancing in a club with members of my staff. The bouncer let me in in exchange for one of the posters; he was a huge fan. The staff had convinced the folks in the bar that they worked for the New Yorker, that I was their boss and it was my birthday. So when I arrived, there was a birthday card from an entire bar full of people. The next day, I was so hungover during my morning buy with David Godine that for years he sent me cards in advance of BEA reminding me of this morning after. What happened in Chicago should have stayed in Chicago! —Kris Kleindeinst, co-owner, Left Bank Books

Over the years, I’ve done a lot to showcase books and shine a light on authors at BEA and BookExpo, but never more memorable than when I was lucky enough to embody the Queen of England alongside two of the sweetest corgis for a Mac B: Kid Spy galley giveaway! —Emily Heddleson, associate director, library and educational marketing, Scholastic

My favorite BEA memory would have to be dinner with Valeria Luisellli and her translator Christina MacSweeney. This would have been the inaugural Indies Introduce year and Faces in the Crowd was one of the Indies Introduce titles. There were a number of other booksellers there including other fans of Faces. It was fun on its own, but I felt like I was able to be present at the start of Luiselli's career and that's been a real honor. —Josh Cook, bookseller, Porter Square Books

I grew up in the town next to where Harlan Coben lives and he’s so beloved (and his house looks, almost comically so, like SUCH a mystery writer’s house) that people frequently use his house when they give directions — go past the library on your right, then Harlan Coben’s house on your left, etc. The president of our division [at Penguin Kids at the time] introduced me to Harlan at BEA one year and I meant to say “I live in the town next to you” but what I actually said was “I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE,” which I followed up with 20 seconds of complete and awkward silence. He was a total angel and quickly got us out of the conversational hole I’d dug. This was a decade ago; I still think about it every time I drive past the library at home. —Cristin Stickles, national account manager, Simon & Schuster

I was sad to hear that BookExpo will no longer be. Every year, I could always point to something great that came out of our being there: making a big rights sale; meeting a new publishing partner; opening a new distribution channel; finally meeting a buyer I've been hopelessly trying to reach; or making new friends from different parts of the world that become part of your extended publishing family. It was always exciting being at BookExpo, but the highlight of the fair was when, year after year, my publishing colleagues, my staff, and I would take over a Moroccan restaurant on 43rd Street and by the end of the evening everyone—men and women—would be shaking their hips and belly dancing to fast Moroccan beats. —Michel Moushabeck, founder and publisher, Interlink Publishing

The best part of my job at Blue Willow Bookshop has always been discovery and connection. BookExpo played a large role in that, whether I was meeting with publishing colleagues, discovering new books or meeting authors. It was a multiple-day adrenaline-filled sprint (or trudge) through New York and the Javits Center that I will miss. That said, I hope that a hybridized version of the trade show, with both in-person and virtual opportunities, will be the way of the future, to allow for a high level of attendance on many levels. Favorite memories? There are so many. Hearing the great Richard Peck speak at a Children's Breakfast. Watching Patty Norman facilitate Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen's prank at the ABA luncheon. Having my colleague Valerie Koehler meet Tomi Adeyemi at a Macmillan luncheon a year before Children of Blood and Bone released and telling me that she was "the real deal" and then hearing Tomi speak so movingly about representation at the children's breakfast in 2019. Most of all? I will miss the delight of meeting a new author in a publisher's booth, of seeing a colleague across the floor, of meeting one of my literary heroes. I hope we can return to that joy someday. —Cathy Berner, children's/young adult specialist and events coordinator, Blue Willow Bookshop