This past weekend I attended BookCon, a new series of panels and exhibits accompanying the renowned Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javits Center in Manhattan. Whereas BEA invited only publishing professionals to browse its stalls, BookCon welcomed everyone, which meant that it was way more crowded than I had originally anticipated. But all of the free autographed books that I came home with definitely made up for the long lines and more than covered the $30 ticket price.
My coworker AR and I arrived about an hour after BookCon’s start. We waited on a line to pick up our tickets, but it moved quickly. Some of the highlights of the day included a photo op with Grumpy Cat, book signings by R.L. Stine (Goosebumps series) and Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments series, among others), several panels with notable guest speakers, and even a speed-dating event.
Mostly we chose to just browse through the publishers’ booths, looking at lists of their upcoming titles and checking to see which authors currently signed and gave away free books. We scored a wide variety of reads, from the horror-filled pages of Pandemic to the romantic comedy Worth the Weight, about a man who owns a super-sized stroller company and a woman who promotes childhood fitness. Most of the books weren’t necessarily ones I’d pick up off the shelf and pay for, but I’ve vowed to give them all a chance. I’m starting with Ocean of Fire, a fictionalized account of Columbia, South Carolina, at the end of the American Civil War. I’ll let you know whether it’s any good.
AR and I, both sci-fi/fantasy nerds, had decided in advance that we really wanted to attend just one panel, “This World and Beyond: A Conversation about Fiction and Fantasy with Deborah Harkness and Lev Grossman.” Unfortunately, we underestimated how many other people would show up for the same panel. Although we arrived about 20 minutes before the panel started, we didn’t make it in and ended up just behind the cut-off point. So pro tip for anyone attending BookCon next year: arrive at least 35 minutes early for any panel you want to check out.
We received tons more books and made some cool discoveries (like Catbug), but I’ll save those for another post. For now, a photo of what’s to come: