After missing BEA last year, I was excited to be back again for 2018! This year was totally different from my previous years attending in many ways, starting with the fact that it was kind of a last-minute decision!
Now that Novelly Yours has become my main focus, I knew I wanted to attend BookCon to meet up with my candle reps, meet customers, and say hello to other bookish shops that were attending as vendors! My regular crew wasn’t attending BEA this year so I didn’t really have plans to attend but I still really wanted to. I managed to sneak in the last day of Book Expo with friend and rep Brittany (@bookswrotemystory) by my side and then we both hit BookCon with the rest of the rep crew!
BOOK EXPO (BEA)
In previous years, I focused a lot on all of the things that we did day-by-day and this year, I think I’m switching that up a bit because things felt very different this year. I noticed that there weren’t as many bloggers in attendance, which could be for a number of things. I know that the BookExpo team switched some things around and changed blogger/media attendance fees. I don’t know if this was to cut down on/discourage blogger attendance in actuality or if the community just kind of felt like it was (those were the rumblings we all heard within the last couple years), but it did seem like there were fewer people I knew there… But there’s also the fact that there are a lot of newer bloggers on the scene now and a lot of the veterans that I know have taken a step back from blogging, or at least to the extent where BEA is not a priority. In that sense, it did seem a little less familiar.
The pace of the conference is quite different from previous years as well. There are far fewer galley drops and books laying about the floor, free for the taking. Everything was much more scheduled and we had to line up for pretty much anything we wanted to do. I’m no stranger to standing in lines at BEA but I was also really looking forward to just walking around and trying to find some new, interesting reads this year and I couldn’t really even peep at any books. Everything was very protected, lots of secret drops that you had to be watching for on social media or things that were announced but the title kept a secret, and even more ticketed signings than in previous years. It’s not a bad thing — ticketed signings and and scheduled drops can help the organization process and keep things orderly, which I know was a concern among to blogging community if not all of the BEA attendees. It did make it difficult to do anything without a schedule and I was trying to be a bit more casual this year so those two concepts didn’t really work together, but I did manage to meet a few authors and grab a few ARCs that I really wanted to! I was surprised that there just weren’t really a lot of things to go and browse like there had been in previous years, not even with some of the smaller publishers. It was rare to see ARCs around on the floor to look at or take.
Another perk of attending the one day of BookExpo was that I was in town for the Macmillan blogger party! They’re one of my favorite publishers and I still treasure our working relationship and how well I’ve grown to know the team and even the authors! I somehow always manage to get there late (this time it was because Laini Taylor was the last signing of the day and we needed MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and then we had to check into our Airbnb after moving out of our hotel) so I was rushed again getting there, but I stayed until the very end! I got to say hello to Marissa Meyer again (though I neglected to get a photo with her) and chat with Leigh Bardugo! I saw the lovely faces of the Macmillan team, spent time chatting with bloggers, and even got to meet a couple new friends that I hadn’t met before! It’s always such a fun time and it’s one of my favorite parts of the conference!
This was the first year that I attended BookCon since its inception so I had no idea what to expect!! The first year was kind of a hot mess and they seemed to have it down to a science now this year. It was nice having it on the same floor as BookExpo and I already knew where everything was. The upsides of BookCon were taking the time to meet some other vendors like OwlCrate, The Bookish Box, Book Beau, North Ave Candles, and Beacon Book Box. I’ve met some of the owners before but it was nice to say hello to people for the first time and make some new connections as well!! I had also made some candles to hand out around BookCon and that was really fun to be able to meet some people that way and hand out some fun goodies!
Other than attending as a vendor, I can’t say I’d ever go to BookCon as a regular attendee again. Every signing in the regular autographing area was ticketed and since I had a press pass and didn’t receive a BookCon badge ahead of time, I could register for any of them and a representative of BookCon didn’t get back to me to see if there was a way for me to do that. I didn’t push it because I knew I was going to BEA, plus I’ve attended many book events, so I didn’t want to take that opportunity away from someone else who really wanted to meet their favorite author! Most things on the floor were ticketed as well and I didn’t have desire to wait in a lot of those ticket lines so I just ended up walking around and hanging out with my friends most of the time, as well as making the time to chat with the aforementioned vendors!
Nearly everything at BookCon is something that’s available for purchase, as well, meaning that unless I was buying books, I likely wasn’t picking anything up. Knowing how many books I’d have to tote back home, I didn’t feel like it was necessary to buy something all the way out in NYC and take it back to IL. A lot of people purchased books for signings but since I own all of the books from my favorite authors and I didn’t attend that many signings at BookCon, there was no reason for me to buy those either. I guess when you’re spoiled by BEA and ALA, getting books at BookCon felt silly (as weird as that sounds) but I also think the event is designed much more for consumers and the general public and not so much someone who can attend BEA or other book conferences like ALA. I think I ended up with 2 or 3 books from BookCon vs the other stack that I was able to obtain from BEA.
I definitely had fun meeting the people and hanging out with my friends at BookCon but I don’t think I’d pay to attend just for me. Hopefully in years to come, I can participate in more of a vendor fashion, whether that’s having a booth or collaborating with another vendor!