For many, BEA (Book Expo America) is all about the free books, but all those books have to be stored, shown off, and schlepped around. Which is why FictionDB has "The BEA Bag Awards". Bags are the silent heroes of BEA, and we want to commend the good and help the bad improve for the future.
The Anatomy of a Good Bag Handles -- They have to be long enough to fit comfortably onto the shoulder, wide enough to not cut into you, and of a material (preferably fabric) that doesn't slip. We can't stress this enough. If a handle isn't a good length and a decent width then the bag is rendered nearly useless for carrying a heavy load of books -- unless you like holding the bag in your hand...which we don't recommend unless you like numb hands and broken fingers.
Material -- There are lots of materials for bags, but we feel that canvas is what it's all about. Canvas is durable, washable, and comfortable against your body. We give a nod to bags that are made of a heavy duty plastic exterior. Unlike canvas, these bags have the ability to portray vivid colors and pictures, and with their slippery bottoms, are excellent for dragging along the expo floor.
Rigidity -- A bag must be firm enough to stand up on it's own, so that books can be placed into it without a fight. Many of the bags we saw on the floor this year were made of sad, thin, slippery material that couldn't hold itself up.
Shape -- Since this is a book event and books are rectangular in nature, we like a square or rectangular bag. It just holds books better. Also the bottom MUST BE rectangular so it can stand upright.
Size -- Distribution of weight is a key feature to a good bag. Big is better right? No! When dealing with heavy items like books, a medium to small sized bag is best. It stops the user from overfilling.
Branding -- We don't really care about this as much as the other features, but it's something we think about. Someone paid money to create the bag to market their product, so if you don't know what that product is, or can't tell who made the bag, well, that just seems sad to us.
Look -- Like FictionDB, bags are a tool -- a resource to use. Therefore, functionality is key which is why, just like FictionDB strives to look good while being the ultimate place for information on fiction, we expect a bag to look good while being functional too.
So with all that out of the way, let’s move on to the winners in each category!
The "Where Did You Get That?!" Bag
Stone Arch Books/Capstone With it's long handles and great look it was the number one bag people asked about. We felt it was a bit too big, and the plastic handles were already coming apart by the third day, but it was usable and looked gooood!
The "Everybody's Using It" Bag
I Wonder Why/ Kingfisher Made of a durable plastic, having long handles, a great shape and rigidity, it was well branded and the perfect size which is probably why we saw this bag everywhere and found ourselves reaching for it every morning.
The "Sad Sack" Bag Bloodlines / Razorbill Wrong on so many levels. The bag was made of a too-thin, t-shirt-like material that allowed books to poke you. The handles are too short, too thin, and roll up to gouge you. The branding looks great but who wants to use it? Shown below with the awesome Mulholland bag which gets it all right for that size.
The "So Close it Hurts" Bag Every Day a Friday/Faithwords This bag woulda, coulda, shoulda been great. Made of durable canvas with sexy rivets, and great branding, the handles were just woefully too short. We can, however, recommend this bag to very small people with very thin arms.
The "Get's the Job Done" Bag Ingram A little on the large side, but well proportioned with good branding. It’s functional and we saw quite a few of them around the show.
The "Aww! It's So Cute!" Bag Priddy Books With it's super cute art, long, soft handles, and canvas material this bag is a real gem. It's a bit too small for daily use on the expo floor, but it's a bag people asked about, wanted, and we can see ourselves using at many a farmers markets in the future.
The "Not For BEA But Totally Love it Later" Bags HarperOne/Angel Burn Carrier bags and back packs rock! These are both great and although we didn't want to use them at show, we can't wait to use them for book fairs and on the airplane.
The "Epic Fail" Bag McGraw Hill Some might be surprised that such a nice looking bag (and one we saw a lot of people using) won this award, but the thing is, this bag fails on too many levels. Everyone we spoke to said that in years past it was their favorite bag. One attendee even brought her old one back to use this year! But this year’s bag had lots of complaints -- serious breakage problems. The handles kept busting off and a full bag would break out through the bottom. Let's hope in the future McGraw Hill goes back to their old material for a better bag.
The Bag to Rule Them All Abrams The Cadillac of bags. Thick canvas with a bold logo. Long, extra wide straps with a snazzy red stripe and cute white stitching. It was unanimously loved by all for comfort and durability. Long lasting and multi-purpose, we see ourselves using it for years to come.
So what makes the perfect book bag for you?