As difficult as it was to sleep last night, I still managed to wake up by 7am. I had hoped to be out the door by 7:30, but best laid plans and all that. Today, I figured there would not be as much going on. Some of the publishers had no giveaways, some publishers packed up. So, I decided to take the small suitcase I brought with me Wednesday. Also, since I was sweating from the heat and my arms were chaffing from the backpack straps, I decided to simplify everything. To reduce the weight and only take the essentials.
Observation Number One: My feet still hurt a bit after yesterday’s grueling marathon.
By the time I got out of the house, it was already after 7:30. The first ferry is at 8am, but I knew I wouldn't make it. I got there just as the second run of the morning was pulling away and had to wait an additional 20 minutes. I was first in line and had time to ruminate on the forthcoming day. I got on the ferry, took up my position outside just in front of the sliding doors. I like the sun and wind on my face. And it gives me the perfect opportunity to people watch, which is one of my favorite pastimes.
Observation 2: It seemed as if there were some school trips attending the BookCon.
Almost everyone who got on the ferry with me was going to BookCon and there were about 150 people on the ferry. How could I tell? The T-Shirts. Dead giveaway. There were only about a bajillion John Green. They came in flocks. A whole gaggle of blue t-shirts with cloud shapes on them. Then there were Dr Who shirts. Some sported logos in favor of reading or pro-books in general. The majority were probably about 15, maybe 16. There were herds of them with their keepers. And I could already see what the day was going to be like.
All the tweens / teens aside, I made it to the Javits Center for the last time this year. Upon entering the Javits Center, a person in Registration was yelling that the lines on the street level were only for BEA attendees and that BookCon attendees had to go up the red stairs.
Observation 3: Today was going to be interesting.
When I got in line, I was behind a woman with three tweens all with their Team John Green wear. I pointed out to the women that for BookCon, Registration was advising the attendees had to go upstairs. She told me she asked someone and was told they could get in any line because it is all the same thing and they already had their badges. To double check, though, she went up to one of the volunteers and asked and was again told they could be in the line. The group was waiting for one more woman, though, one of the mother’s, so they stepped out from in front of me at the escalator. Just as they did, the badge checker was getting himself worked up into a tizzy about them being on the wrong line.
Observation 4: It was going to be that kind of day.
It seemed that no one working there knew what the hell was going on. I, however, could devote no more time to something that was clearly not my business. Besides, I had an agenda, I had a goal and nothing, and I do mean nothing, was going to get in my way.
I high-footed it over to the Spencer Hill Press booth. I had blinders on. No shiny free books were going to belay me. Ooh! Star Wars Jedi Academy Vol 2! I need that!
Well, it is just one book.
Anyway, over to Spencer Hill Press where they were handing out the tickets for The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I figured after being blanked twice in her line, the universe owed me one. I got a ticket. We were told there were as many books as tickets and do not lose the ticket under any circumstances. I asked if the ticket guaranteed a book and her editor told me that I was guaranteed a book as long as I was in line by 11:00. I could do this!
Before I go any further, I should relate the atmosphere of the show room floor. Going up the escalators on the street level brought us up to the side of the floor that had the University Presses, the foreign presses, the remainders, the obscure Indy presses, the Librarian lounge and such. It was barren, like everyone cleared out of town before the zombie incursion. The main Publishers on that side are Penguin, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Source Books and Scholastic. Houghton Mifflin was also on that side, but they were not advertising with overhead signage, so I kept forgetting about them.
Sourcebooks had no giveaways today except for what was left from the previous days. I had asked later in the morning about their display copies as I had my e ye on one of two Susanna Kearsley books, one of them being her new release in paperback, Season of Storms. I am also missing Splendour Falls which they also had. I was advised to come back about 1:30.
Penguin had no books. MacMillan had a galley out off and on, but they had more BookCon activities on the other side of the floor. There were panels with giveaways after the panels. Scholastic also had some things. For instance, they still had copies of the Iron Trial. HarperCollins was still holding to their galley drop schedule for the day. Other than that, it was sooooo quiet.
When I walked over to Spencer Hill Press, I found out why. The floor was segregated and the entrance points were being manned. BEA attendees could get into BookCon, but BookCon attendees could not get into BEA. I will tell you now though I found out later that there were 8,500 tickets sold for BookCon. We’ll get back to that and its implications.
My second goal of the day was to be at HarperCollins for their 10:00 Adult Galley drop. They were giving away copies of a book called Thorn Jack which is a retelling of the Tam Lin fairy tale. Had. To. Have. But I had a while, so I figured I would check out giveaways on the BookCon side of the floor. I checked Little Brown again for the new James Paterson book they gave away Thursday morning. It was the only book my boss wanted and I really wanted to make her happy. No dice. I tried to cruise by the Disney booth but the line was humongous and they were giving away several books, the new Animal Spirits, Hooks Revenge and some others I couldn't see. I didn't want to stand in line, though because I was on a schedule.
I got to HarperCollins where there was a non-line or “unofficial line” for the galley drop. So I got in line, but soon realized it was for the YA titles. I had nothing better to do anyway, so I stayed in line and got a copy of Jewel. By this time I didn’t have long to wait, so I moved to the other side of the booth where they were giving away the adult titles. And I waited. There was no way I was going to miss the galley as it was the only time it was being given away. I had already missed one of the adult titles on Thursday.
I had a lovely chat with the woman behind me. I was a little jealous because she was going to get in line for Carey Elwes who was only signing a chap of his book, As You Wish, but it was going to conflict with JLA. I knew by the time I got done with JLA, I would not make Carey Elwes. Let me tell you, there were a large number of teens that brought their own copies of the Princess Bride to sign. Later found out he was only signing the chap book and not anything personal people brought.
Finally the galleys were dropped and I got my book. Well, I didn't want to be late for JLA, so I footed it over to the autographing tables. And when I say footed, I mean more like treading water in a lake of molasses. They were so many freaking people in front of the autographing chutes you couldn't move around. But I found a green shirt and asked her where the line was for JLA? She said there wasn't one yet and they would not be lining up until about 15 minutes beforehand. Eeeh! Wrong answer! But I took her at her word. I decided to drop off my books. Yes while roaming from side to side, I did manage to pick up some books and I didn't want to carry them all day. Oh, but this line is really short. It thought it was for Paul Zelinsky which was a young reader picture book, but it was Barbara Mariconda, the Voyage of Lucy P Simmons: Lucy at Sea. Too late to back out. Got it signed, not personalized and headed for the baggage check.
I again found a green shirt and she told me where the line was. It was off to the side, but now instead of being near the front, I was near the end. The Spencer Hill staff was riding the line making sure everyone had a ticket.
My panic moment: I had the ticket in my badge holder. I kept looking at it to assure myself it was there. When I got to the line, I had for some reason though she was at table 6. I pulled out my ticket to confirm the correct table and slid it back in. When I got to the end of the line, I flipped over my badge holder and didn't see the ticket. I freaked, ran up and down the line. Then I pulled out my stuff back there which was my return ferry ticket and my parking ticket. The JLA ticket had slid behind the other two. The signing started at 11:00. By 11:15, we had hardly moved. By 11:30, we hadn't moved much and I was wondering how they were going to get everyone through the line by noon. My feet were killing me. And I don’t mean fatigue, I mean pain, but I knew if I sat on the floor, I’d have an equally difficult time getting back up again. So I kept rocking from foot to foot to relieve the pain. As it was, there was no one at the table after JLA, so she was going to stay until all 250 copies were signed. We were advised, though, that due to the length of the line and the amount of time it was taking, she would also not be signing anything else other than The Return.
As it turned out, Michelle Madow was right behind me in line again. She had a whole zip lock bag full of the bling diamond stickers to promote her book. She was very gracious and handed them out as well as handing out bookmarks and she posed for lots of photo ops. There was another blogger on line who put the sticker right in the middle of her forehead. Pretty funny actually, in a good way. But back to Michelle, I actually struck up a conversation with her at one point. I’m not sure how it started, but she was talking about how she lives in Florida and she was chilly up in NYC. I told her last week was worse. We talked about the beach and Universal Studios and Harry Potter World. She’s was really personable and a lot of fun to talk to.
Finally around 12, they came by and told everyone they could take the book if they didn't want to wait in line for the signing. Quite a few did, but I stood in line for over an hour already with aching feet for her book and I was thwarted the two previous days, there was no way I was taking the easy way out.
The blogger with the diamond sticker on her forehead was a few people in front and as it turns out, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black were signing right next to JLA. Cassandra Clare saw the sticker and wanted one, so the blogger, Sylvia was her name, pulled Michelle up to the front of the JLA line so she could give Cassandra Clare a sticker which was placed right above her chest. Holly Black had to assist with the placement. Now there are two people I would have liked to have met. They seem like quite a hoot. They were dressed exactly alike in black and white outfits and Holly Black was sporting some sort of paper crown. And they laughed a lot. I tried to take their picture, but their line was just ending and by the time I got my camera ready for the photo they had moved from the table.
What was awesome was that Michelle Madow had a squee moment because Cassandra Clare asked for her sticker. I really love knowing that authors can also be such huge fangirls or fanboys. It was awesome!
But back to JLA, I finally got my book around 12:30. I thanked her for sticking around to sign all the books. She told me they had already cleared it with the con management that she would go over to ensure the books were all signed. Over an hour and a half, my longest line of the con, but so worth it.
I have to say, JLA has been really great all throughout the conference. She was promoting three books, had about 5 different signings and was on a panel after her signing of The Return. She was generous and genuinely seemed to care about her fans, being apologetic when her books ran out, but trying to give back as much as she could. She is a really awesome woman.
I had planned on going to a signing again at Spencer Hill which was scheduled for 11:30, but quickly realized that wasn't going to happen. Grumpy Cat was at noon, but I didn't even try. I went into the Chronicle Booth earlier because I saw people with a Grumpy Cat head on a Popsicle stick. So, I went to get one. I asked if she would be in until 2pm, but was advised they were starting with an hour and would see how she was holding up, so it could be extended. I then asked how long she thought the line would be and I was then told that people bee-lined for the booth and lined up first thing. So, I kind of got the impression I would never make it in. Just like with Carey. After the JLA signing, I went to the Chronicle booth just to see her again. We had a moment from ten feet apart last year, but for this signing, the booth was closed off so I couldn't even go in and peek.
So no celebrity sightings this year. No Neil Patrick Harris, no BJ Novak, no Billy Idol, no Amanda Palmer, no Carey Elwes. Amy Poehler and Martin Short were going to be at a panel, but I saw the length of some of the panel room lines and realized that wasn't happening either.
So what to do now? I was planning on trying to get on the Harlequin YA line, but it started at 12:15 and I was on line for JLA. I had already gotten the books, but I was going to try to get a second copy of Talon for my friend Terri. There would have been no way I could near the line. Then I thought I would go on the Danielle Paige line for Dorothy Must Die. This was another book the kids brought their own copies of. I was told where the line was, but it didn't seem well organized. We were told to move up a couple of steps and I found I could not figure out where the start of the line was, that is, until it was pointed out to me that I was on the tail end of a wrap-around line. The line seemed longer than JLAs. For Danielle Paige, there were no tickets so everyone got on line. Finally before the line started moving, they took a count. Subtracting out the number of people who brought their own books, the line was still cut off I’d say at least 50 people in front of me and there were at least 15 – 20 people behind me. I was not too disappointed. I have read mixed reviews on the book and figured if I could pick it up, I’d read it, but I’m kind of glad I didn't have to wait on another hour+ line.
I was going to head over to Source Books for display copies, but fell into a line for HarperCollins. Spin the wheel and get a book. The titles were all YA. Had no idea what the titles were though, but then I found a discarded flier. Melissa Marr Made for You was one of the titles and the only one I was interested in. It was another long line. My feet were aching, but I felt lucky. I was not lucky at Comic Con, but I thought I’d give it a spin. Made it to the wheel and chanted “Come on Melissa! Come on Melissa!” I gave it a good hard spin and I just made it to the last tick before it would go to the next title. I actually jumped for joy. Well, bounced for joy really, but still. Terri, I know you wanted a copy as well, but I could only get one. I am sorry, my friend.
At that point, I decided to head to Source Books, but I figured I would take a sweep on the BookCon side first. So many people. Then a thought occurred to me. It was a moment of clarity.
Observation 5: My feet hurt and I didn't want to fight the crowds. Besides, I had realized I really had gotten enough books already and it was time to go home.
I still filled my smaller blue suitcase.
So let’s talk about BookCon. And Power Reader.
Two years ago, I had just started my blog and did not feel I would get accepted to BEA, so I opted for the Power Reader alternative for the one day. Besides it was short notice and didn't want to abandon my boss at work. Luckily, I had my friend Terri with me who I think has been blogging since the dark ages. I was her Padawan and she took me under her wing and taught me how to be a good Con attendee. The first year, the Power Reader wasn't promoted much and I didn't know where all the Power Reader specials were so I missed out on a bunch of stuff. I was a bit disappointed because there didn't seem to be as many signings or giveaway as Terri had led me to believe, but it seems as with Comic Con, vendors start packing up early. Still, it was an awesome opportunity to peak into that world again.
Last year, I attended as a book blogger, going to the Blogging Con and BEA. Last year, I had noticed that some vendors were definitely packing up early, like Friday early. I spoke with a gentleman while we were waiting on line and the rumor he told me was that some vendors seemed to resent the whole Power Reader program, that they would be loud and it would be crowded, so some vendors left. Again, though, this is just second hand hearsay and not founded in truth. They were promoting the program more, though and actually seemed to advertise. They even created a Power Reader lounge where there were free beverages and popcorn and that one commodity most in demand…sitting space with real chairs. Couldn't get in without the Power Reader badge, though. There were a lot more exclusive giveaways and such.
I would also like to point out in the past, the whole conference floor was open to the Power Readers. This year, they were contained and it was renamed BookCon.
Year number one, they were only offering 1,000 tickets and you had to be invited by someone in the industry, so a local book store could sponsor you, a library. I was sent a Random House newsletter inviting me.
Year two, I don’t know how many tickets they sold, but I would say it was a bit more. There were a lot more people with their green striped badges last year than the prior year.
As I said earlier, the rumor was 8,500 tickets this year sold.
- Fire regulation adherence. There were far too many people clogging up all the aisles, especially at the signing chutes to be safe. Apparently, there were still people waiting to get in around noon, but again that is hearsay. The first year ComicCon was brought to New York, the interest was underestimated and it was the same thing. You would have to wait to go into the dealer room until someone else came out. And if you came out, you might not have gotten back in. It was a mess. I figure this was similar.
- Too many people = too long lines. Danielle Paige is a perfect example. I would say most of the people on that line were BookCon attendees.
- All the autographing tables were on the BookCon side, so the crowds had to be put up with in order to get the signed books.
- Most of the publishers had a second booth set up for the BookCon events. That meant that while the BEA side was nice and quiet, there was also not much going on.
- Only allowing half the conference floor for BookCon attendees means that there was nowhere to get away from the lines. Everything was a lot more cramped, so there seemed to be more pushing and shoving. Sometimes I had to shove just to be able to get from point A to point B because no one was moving.
- The long lines for everything was causing major blockage and it was impossible to cut across some of those lines. In many instances we had to go the long way around just to get where we were going.
- There were so many activities for BookCon. For MacMillan, they were giving away galleys after the panel. The last couple of years, if there was an author panel, they would be signing, but you had to bring or buy your own books. No freebies for the panels in the past.
- There were spin the wheel games and a lot of giveaways. I believe there were still BookCon exclusives as well. I think they got a goodie bag for attending.
- There was star power. Some of the panel participants: John Grisham, Veronica Roth, Jodi Picoult, Stan Lee, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Steifvater, JLA, James Patterson, Lemony Snicket, Rick Riordan, Jason Segel, John Green.
- Special Program books were printed just for BookCon with all the events available.
- BookCon has their own app, just like BEA, to help in being organized.
- It makes books more accessible to the general public thereby promoting books and reading.
Limit ticket sales
- Or –
Open up more of the floor so the crowd could spread out more.
I’m not saying it is a good program or a bad program, but this is one thought I do have.
Book publishers are growing in presence at the New York Comic Con. There is a whole book track you can follow just like at BEA. So let BEA remain a trade show. The public can’t attend ToyFare which is an industry conference, so why have so many people allowed into BEA. And if the public is invited in, then there needs to be some limitations. I don’t think anyone as prepared for what today was going to be like.
One last rumor I heard; that BookCon would be a two day even, so the entire conference would be Thursday through Sunday.