We attended BookCon 2015 at the Jacob Javits Center today in New York City. This is the expanded book fair open to the public on May 30-31. ReedPop, which runs ComicCon, has the clearly upgraded the event. There were hugely attended Special Event Panels with celebrities and authors including Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, John Green and Nick Offerman. The major publishing houses Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hatchette, and MacMillan along with Capstone, Sourcebook, and Disney were in attendance. They were going to give out free books, which were to be signed by authors and also sell books as well.
The reading public swarmed. By 9:00 am, the cavernous underbelly of the Javits Center was packed with people waiting on one side for bracelets to the autographing at the publishing houses and on the other side to get the bracelets for the Special Events Panels.
When the crowd control let people up, they forced they queue and walk up a long walkway, and get to the hall where the publishing houses were ready to give out free books, knickknacks, shirts, and other items. The process went very smoothly, the Special Event Panels were very organized and crowd control was well done.
Upstairs, the publishing houses had a select amount of books, passed out tickets ahead of time and if you were prepared to wait an hour, it was pretty clear that you were going to receive a book. People were orderly and there were some major authors giving away books including Charleine Harris, Patrick Ness and Norton Juster. There were also some self-published authors with little stands selling their books.
A panel hosted by Rotten Tomatoes where people complained about bad movies and critics also chimed in was good fun. Rotten Tomatoes gave out little signs saying Fresh or Rotten and people could vote on the movies.
What we did not like was the set up downstairs for the autographing for popular novelists. The lines were colossal. It was not clear immediately that many authors were only going to sign books purchased at the bookstore, The knowledgeable staff was insufficient for the amount of attendees, so were swarmed. The bookstore that sold books to the public for the autographing area did not open immediately. When I went there at 10:20 am, there were already the line was 10 rows deep and the store was not open. It should have opened at the same time as the rest of the convention. I witnessed several frustrated people annoyed about having bought books, and then being told the authors could not sign them.
Moreover the authors for those autographing lines did not start autographing until after 12:00 and it seemed like the actual autographing time was very limited. The room was huge, and ReedPop set up long lines that allowed hundreds of people to wait for selective authors, but soon realized there were too many people on line, so in many instances, lines were capped.
I think this part could have been handled a little more efficiently. When I went down later in the day, an information booth was set up. This would have been a big help earlier.
I also think information could have been presented better. We were told that a specific event – a book signing by Rainbow Rowell required a book bought at the downstairs bookstore, but in fact, the book and ticket was sold upstairs by the publisher. We were at the Publisher, asked three people before 10:00 am about it, and received incorrect information.
I talked to numerous people, and they all seemed good. People got to meet authors, exchange a few words with them, get a few free books signed to themselves, and talk to other people who read books.
I go back tomorrow – Judy Blume, Jason Segal and R. L. Stine will headline Special Panels, and I am getting there at 8:00 am to be assured a ticket. I expect to pick up some more books as well.
I think this is an event that is poised to just get better and better.