So, on May 31, the first BookCon happened.
Some background: BookExpo America is a yearly conference in NYC. Each year, thousands of publishers and authors and professionals gather in the Javits Center for this industry event. Over the last two years, BEA has experimented with allowing consumers onto the floor on the final day of the event.
This year was the first year they separated the events, cordoning off an area for consumers. This floor area became BookCon. There was a controversy surrounding this switch: some people (such as I) had already purchased tickets to Power Reader Day, which was scheduled to happen as usual. I was caught up in the uproar, and rightly so: I paid to go to BEA and was instead given tickets to a smaller experimental event.
I was angry, but I made the best of it. BookCon did not impress me with the celebrities they got to attend. In the beginning there were more movie stars than authors (and of course, very little diversity within the announced attendees). There were a few authors I wanted to see, but not too many.
When we got to the Javits Center (I also convinced my neighbor to come with me), there was a huge line for Autographing tickets. It stretched around the building. The ticket booth open at 9;00, but, to cut down the line, they opened early. We decided to skip it, and forgo the big ticketed authors (i.e. Cassandra Clare) and instead got in line to wait for the floor to open.
When the floor opened it was a mad house, everyone rushing this way and that. Immediately it was obvious the space for BookCon would not be able to hold everyone. The aisles were much too narrow, and the in-booth signings and giveaways clogged the pathways even further. It was chaos.
Besides that, many publishers gave out all their advance copies in the first ten minutes. This caused a panic with those who wanted to get those titles (lots of grabbing hands). I was reaching for Afterworlds, the upcoming novel by Scott Westerfeld, and someone slapped my hand out of the way. Then the booth ran out. So I didn’t get one. This basically set the tone for the whole day.
My neighbor and I split up, and I went to line up for Alexandra Bracken, author of The Darkest Minds trilogy, with my sister. We got there 15 minutes early, just in case, but we were turned away by a very rude BookCon employee. She yelled at the growing crowd to disperse, and threatened to refuse to let us get a book if we didn’t leave. The crowd kept getting bigger, and my sister and I made a few new friends that we waited in line with so we would have a group to stay with.
We ended up waiting in two separate lines, for over an hour. The entire time, BookCon employees herded us around like animals. My sister and I and new friend Sarah (Hey, Sarah!) were one of the last people to get a book. Alexandra Bracken was signing hardcover copies of her second book Never Fade. She was so young and pretty, and super nice. She couldn’t believe the crowds at all.
After that madness, we decided to get lunch. The cafeteria was insane. There was a big selection, but all the lines were ridiculous. We ended up splitting a sandwich. I then hustled off to the BookTuber Meetup, which was without a doubt the highlight of my day!
I’m just going to say it before it becomes painfully obvious: I am a very shy person. So when I walked into the crowd of BookTubers and fans, I was overwhelmed. I actually walked right into Heather’s (from Bookables) husband. She and I talked for a bit. She was so nice and personable.
I also saw Tiernan, from TheBookTuber, who was super tall. He and I talked a couple of times. I had a cool discussion with him and Bekah (Bekah AwesomeBookNut) for a while. I took lots of pictures, I promise.
I walked around for a bit, taking in all the fans and BookTubers interacting with each other. It was surreal. I loved being able to see these regular people in real life. All of them were so kind and just as frazzled as I was.
I waited to say hi to Jesse, from jessethereader. He was talking to Reagan (PeruseProject) and I didn’t want to interrupt. I got talking with this nice girl named Christina ( I remember because she gave me her business card), and together we introduced ourselves. He was so nice and I got a picture. I had quite the fangirl moment.
I caught a glimpse of Jeff and Jaime (Ermahgerd Berks), but I didn’t get the chance to say hi. Then I got to meet Kassidy Voinche, who I adore. She’s a wonderful hugger and I loved her dress. She was super funny and really, really sweet.
Here are the pictures from the Meetup:
After that, I walked around the floor a little bit more. I was disappointed. There were no books left. Some booths had books for “inspiration”, which meant you couldn’t take them or purchase them. It was frustrating. The crowds were still horrendous. I never got to talk to a publisher or representative, which was a priority of mine. I had hoped to make a few connections to industry professionals, but alas…
On a bit of an aside, I was waiting on line to go to the bathroom (which was a thirty minute wait) and I saw the “line” for the John Green panel scheduled to happen in two hours. There were so many people, and security guards were just yelling at everybody. It was a pit of madness. Look:
After that unfulfilling day, I went back home. It was a very quiet train ride. No one I was with was happy. BookCon was actually just a Con, there weren’t many books at all.
So, I don’t know if I’m going to attend BookCon next year. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’ll be better organized next year, but they have their work cut out for them. My goal is to get tickets to BookExpo America, and also check in on BookCon, but who knows?
Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment if you went to BookCon! Bye