We already discussed the wristband situation and what it took to acquire them. The funny thing is that the later in the day it got, I started to see more and more posts from people saying they were not going to be able to make the panel and they were asking if anyone wanted their wristband. I even saw some people posting on the Book Con board that they were selling their wristband. I thought that was really nervy. People trying to sell a wristband for a free event. WTF??? I think what happened is that people, and I say people, but I think I really mean teens and I only say that as that was the demographic I saw the board activity from. I think they got to the event, got all big eyed over the events, got wristbands for multiple special events and then found that they were spending far too much time in line for an event and sitting through the event. If someone had multiple wristbands, it was a definite time sink.
The other issue with the panels and special events was that there was often a signing after the panel. However, if a person was in the panel, they were not going to make it for the signing. Those autograph lines were getting capped before the panel even ended. There was a lot of angry posts regarding this issue on the message boards as well. Would it would be better to have the signings not immediately after? On the one hand, it would give the panel people time to make it in line for the book signing. On the other hand, all those people got to see the panel. This allowed the less fortunate to at least meet their favorite authors and get a signed book, once paid for, of course.
I did hear of some people who left panels early only to find that the signing line was capped, so not only did they not get to meet and greet their favorite authors, but they also didn't see the end of the panel.
One of the other issues I heard about with the smaller panels (not the wristband events) was that they were not clearing out the panel room in between events. So what people were doing was to go to the panel before the one they wanted to see and just stay there. Still had to wait on line to get into the room. The problem, though, is that there might be people in the panel just taking up space waiting for the next panel while some people who really wanted to see that panel might not have been able to get in. Then, of course, the stragglers can snag the best seats in the room.
Overall for Book Con, the showroom floor was pretty well managed and so much less crowded since it didn't coincide with BEA. My advise, though? Leave the Kardashian at home. This is a book convention, so why do we need someone who is famous for being famous that isn't even promoting a book? That line really clogged the works for a good long time. It was probably the longest line on the showroom floor. I wonder who was a bigger draw. Grumpy Cat or interchangeable Kardashian? Sadly, Grumpy Cat was not in attendance this year so there was no basis for comparison.
Now let's talk about the booths. I already discussed the state of the freebie tables in the Penguin booth and how those lines were really slow going. What frustrated me was that not all the booths published their schedule of events, like Simon and Schuster. I didn't know Kim Harrison was going to be signing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right moment. I found it difficult to plan when I didn't always know what was going on. Penguin and Sourcebooks had Book Con events together with their BEA events, so I could plan ahead accordingly. For Macmillan and HarperCollins, I had to wait for the daily magazine as well as Little Brown (Hatchette).
While most of the booths had plenty of events going on, they were more in the business of selling their books. Macmillan had signings where you actually had to buy the book in their booth, not the Word bookstore. For the Rainbow Rowell meet & greet, you had to by the special edition and then you could meet her for a signing. Those tickets went really fast. They also were promoting David Duchovny's new book. He was signing at a table downstairs, but you had to buy the book in the booth.
And people were buying books. Some of the publishers had marked down books, like Disney, and some did not. I don't think HarperCollins was discounting, although I could be wrong. So I guess Book Con was a successful for all business parties. The convention organizers had great attendance and the publishers made sales.
What I found odd, but also amusing was to see what books people were picking up. It was almost like the frenzy and the lure of free books was too much. People were just grabbing whatever they could get their hands on whether it was something they would want to read or not. Perhaps like my first BEA as a Power Reader for a day.
I saw someone from I think it may have been the Golden CEO or something to that effect and the booth person was giving their sampler to a little girl who could not have been more than 10. I mean come on! What is she going to do with that information? I guess that goes back to the very first rule I learned. Do not make eye contact!
I though John Green or Mindy Kaling with BJ Novak would be two of the biggest draws, but what had all the teens in a tizzy was the You Tube vlogger panel. The Word bookstore sold out of their books Saturday, but the panel and signing weren't until Sunday. One teen had her mother get on line Saturday to get a wristband for the Sunday panel. I didn't even know you could do that. The bookstore did announce, though, that they were holding a quantity of the books for Sunday attendees, so fear not little camper. All is right in the world. I don't know how I feel about young kids putting their life on line for all the world to see. It sets an example for the younger kids. The world is a crazy, scary place, and I wouldn't feel comfortable with my kids putting themselves on line like that, well, if I had any, but the times, they are a changing. We are living in a digital world and I for one cannot expect things to be as they were when I was growing up.
I'm not sure if I addressed the showroom floor, so forgive me if I am being repetitive. The showroom floor was so much better this year than last year. It really helped to split out BEA and Book Con. People could move around without fear of being trampled. It also really helped to move the autographing tables downstairs as those lines are always horrible to begin with. It was smart and it was a good decision.
Now that I feel as if I have beaten Book Con to death, some last thoughts on BEA.
One thing that stuck out for me was the size of the badges for BEA this year. They were ginormous. The were stiff like oak-tag and they folded over. The front side was the attendees information and the back was the schedule. I found it to be problematic for several reasons. The first was that the lanyards were open sided so it clipped on either end of the badge. There was a hole in the middle, but the lanyard provided at Book Con was the double sided one. The badge was just long enough on the lanyard and just large enough that I kept getting it caught on everything. There was no way that sucker was staying flat. Mine was all bent up and one of the holes ripped on day two, so I had to use the middle hole and a side hole, so my badge was off kilt the rest of the show. Last year, the lanyard had a plastic pocket, which was great. I kept my parking ticket, bag check ticket, ferry tickets and any special event ticketing in the pocket behind my BEA badge. This year on day 2, I brought a separate lanyard with a card pocket just so I could carry that stuff and have it readily available.
I didn't see many booth workers wearing costumes this year for Book Expo. For Book Con, we had Cat in the Hat, Garfield, Junie B. Jones, Demon Dentist, Captain Underpants, Galactic Hot Dogs and some of the Looking Glass Wars cosplayers were in attendance, but I neither got a picture of them nor of Junie B Jones nor the Galactic Hot Dogs. My bad. There were some shadow hunters running around, but they were just wearing black pants and a Shadow hunters T and had temporary tattoos on runes on their skin. There were also a couple of pirates running around. For BEA, I saw the Willy Wonka wannabee, maybe the Dummies Guide guy and that's about it. Some attendees were in costume, or at least I thought they had on costumes, but really, who can wear 4 inch heels around Javits for 6 - 8 hours a day?
Not only did I not see a lot of workers dressed in costumes, I didn't see a whole lot of chotchky like key chains, buttons and such. I saw more of that at Book Con than at BEA. BEA seemed to be a bit more serious minded this year while Book Con was all about having fun. We played games at Book Con. I don't remember any games at BEA.
I noticed that the donation box for the book signings at the back tables was gone. I was planning on giving money for my signed books, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I'm not sure if it was somewhere else, but if I couldn't find it, I wasn't sweating it.
For some odd reason, at it may have been more for Book Con than BEA, it all runs together after a while, but people were obsessed with the pigeons flying about. I was on Twitter fairly constantly for any show updates and at Book Con, I had the message board up almost constantly. I could not understand what the fascination was. They're birds. You've seen them before. Move on.
I'm sure there are things I am forgetting to tell you all. I was questioning what would happen to Book Con next year with BEA moving to Chicago, but I got my answer. Book Con will be following BEA to Chicago, so I will only be able to get my book fix at Comic Con nest year.
It was exhausting and I felt wrecked after five days of events, but it was also exhilarating and as close to heaven as a book nerd like me will get for some time. I will miss it next year, but there is no way I can rationalize the expense of going to Chicago, but I hope at least a lot of other book fans will have the opportunity to go if NYC is too far to travel.
Well, that raps up my coverage of BEA and Book Con 2015. Thanks for spending the time!
Now take good care of my Expo, Chicago, and I'll catch you on the flip side!!