With BEA over for another year and all the books added to our already overburdened shelves, we take a look at the most important part of the event -- the book bags! Before we go into what bags were the winners and losers I wanted to remind you of how we judge them.
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. In general though, canvas is King.
Rigidity — A bag must be firm enough to stand up on its own, so that books can be placed into it without a fight. Sad, thin, slippery material that can't hold itself up is frustrating and it wastes everyone's time.
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. (please see above "Rigidity")
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-sized bag is best. It stops the user from overfilling, bruising their shoulders and throwing out their backs.
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.
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.
NOW FOR THE WINNERS!
The “Everybody’s Using It” Bag
We saw the Workman bag everywhere! A little small for our tastes, but this little canvas bag was a favorite of many at the show this year.
The “Get’s the Job Done” Bag
This is the third year in a row for Ingram dominating this category. They have the same bag as last year and it meets the same specifications. A little on the large side, it’s well-proportioned with good branding. It’s functional and we saw quite a few of them around the show. Bonus, it's one of the best to slide along the floor...which you'll probably end up doing if you fill it up.
The "Nostalgia" Bag
Who doesn’t love The Hobbit? This simple black canvas bag with Smaug outlined in red ink is very eye-catching.
The “Sad Sack” Bag
To our horror we saw more bags in this category than usual this year, but the one that takes the prize is PaperCutz’s Nancy Drew bag. This bag is so flimsy I doubt it could carry much of anything, but we do love ourselves some Nancy Drew.
The “Where Did You Get That!” Bag
We think this bag speaks for itself. I mean look at it? How can you not say, "I must have one..."? This bag from Capstone, unfortunately, also wins the Epic Fail category. It looks great, but don't try filling it with books -- we had a whole load of books go straight through the bottom.
The “Not For BEA But Totally Love it Later” Bags
We have to admit to loving this bag even though it's a little too small for BEA. Made of a wonderfully thick and fully lined canvas, with long thick canvas handles, this DK bag feels amazing both to the touch and while hanging comfortably off one shoulder. It zips closed to keep all your stuff inside and has several pockets big enough for water bottles.
The Bag to Rule Them All
The red and white Abrams from several years ago has long been our favorite, but we have a new favorite! The Putnam 175-year anniversary canvas bag takes top honors. It meets all of our requirements and then some. I’m sure we’ll be seeing this bag as a big returner for future BEAs. Congratulations, Putnam, you are our winner!