Book Con Day 1 – May 30, 2015
So, let’s talk about Book Con. I’d like to say that chaos breeds order, but in this instance, I would not be entirely accurate, but I get ahead of myself.
The Book Con showroom floor did not open until 10am. I figured I could afford myself the luxury of sleeping in a little later. I had meant to get myself organized Friday night. Sadly, I did not. I couldn’t. I was barely coherent. I made scrambled eggs on toast for dinner because a) it doesn’t take long to make and b) I didn’t have to think too hard about it. It may not have been the best choice, but my brain had already powered down. I was out relatively early.
And so, I was faced with the prospect of having to get myself prepared while waiting in line. I decided not to take the big green suitcase instead opting for the smaller carry on blue suitcase. I wasn’t going to be picking up many books after all. Oh Tammy, you are so charmingly naive. I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brain.
Since the floor opened at 10, I wanted to get there by 9. I was uncertain how things would be organized, but I considered this to be a recon mission. To get the lay of the land, gather Intel and report back what I had found. I didn’t take a lot. I did not stop at D&D this morning for caffeine. I hit no traffic on my way in to the ferry. I guess I was driving around 8am. Took no time to get to the ferry and the drive was really insignificant. I was able to park on the 2nd floor of the garage right by the elevator, so that was good. I had to wait a few for the ferry as we were now on the weekend schedule. I needed to make sure I had single, too for the baggage check, so at the cafe in the ferry terminal, I bought a banana. Better than a raspberry cheesecake square any day.
I started walking to Javits as I always do, along the north sidewalk. I turn right on 11th Ave and Javits is about a half block away. There were a couple of people ahead of me, but nothing to get agitated about. This day was about relaxing and taking it easy. I had some autographings at tables, some at booths, some galley drops, but overall, not a whole lot going on. I kept walking up the sidewalk getting close to the corner when I saw this parade of people rounding the corner from the right and wrapping around to get in line along the fence I was now walking next to. I just walked up and joined the line, but I stood in awe and amazement as the seemingly never-ended conga line just kept coming. I tried to take a picture, but the photo just cannot do it justice. Where the heck were all these people coming from and where the heck had they been?
I saw a lot of people holding a magazine sized publication like the PW show dailies for BEA and I was itching to get my hands on a copy. Penguin and Sourcebooks already published their events schedule, but I’m not sure any of the other publishers had. I needed to know what was going on and where to go first. So I waited.
Finally the line began to move, perhaps not quickly, but we were in motion all the same. We turned right onto 11th and still the people were coming from the other direction. I expected we would continue on the sidewalk straight to Javits, but no. There is actually a break where the fence ends and there is a gap, a smaller building and another gap and then Javits. They had us follow the fence and when it ended, we turned right again heading perpendicular to the Javits Annex. Once we hit the annex, we turned left and walked along the Annex walkway. I hadn’t noticed that there was a lovely cluster of trees this side of Javits with a good number of benches strewn about. I looked like someplace I’d like to sit and read. I mean can I? Just sit and read? Enough of this standing in line crap. But no, we had to keep walking.
We circled the edge of the cluster of woods rounded the corner and walked into the fist set of doors on the north side of the building. We were immediately hustled down the stairs where I saw such horrors!! Definitely not for the faint of heart. Before I could register what my eyes were seeing, we were told to keep walking. We rounded the escalator and kept walking to the hallway that goes the length of the building. We were not allowed up any escalator. Just as well as the escalators had all been turned off. They took us through the bowels of the Javits center past Hall B, through the cafe and food court, past Hall C and I believe we were finally allowed to ascend at Hall D, but again, the escalators were off, so we had to climb.
That brought us to the Illuminae steps (by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof) where we had to keep climbing. It’s like the gates of hell were blown open and all the demons were clawing their way to solid ground, to walk among the humans. Where is there a hunter when you need one? Once we climbed those steps, we were finally ready to enter the Promised Land. But here’s how it all went wrong.
While I was waiting for the ferry, I was scrolling through the Book Con message board and I was dismayed. Events were requiring tickets and the ticket lines opened at 8:00. I didn’t realize this and I had some events on my agenda, but after I heard you had to wait in line to get a wristband, I decided to ‘86’ the events. I did later learn that only the panels in the Special Events Hall required a wristband. The other smaller panels were a crap shoot. Apparently, though, Mindy Kaling/BJ Novak, John Green’s Paper Towns, Aziz Ansari and Nick Offerman were the big draws of Saturday.
Most of the table signings required a purchase from the Word bookstore which was downstairs by the signing tables. I believe the demand may have been underestimated as there did not seem to be enough registers or staff to support the need. I was reading posts on the Book Con board that it was taking people and hour to get through check-out. I had even seen posts that by the time people were getting out of the bookstore, the line they were trying to get on for a signing was already capped.
Some of the bookstore staff were not making exchanges when this happened, when a person missed a signing because it was taking way too long to purchase the book, but if they kept checking around, they’d find someone willing to make the exchange. The capping issue with the lines also seemed to be happening mostly with the YA authors. Coincidence?
I also heard they weren’t checking receipts at the table signings anyway, so if a book was brought from home, they were not checking to make sure it was just bought.
I think one of the main reason for the gross underestimate is that last year BEA and Book Con overlapped. At BEA, we do not have to buy the book for signings. The Book Con people reaped the benefits because of the overlap. There were an awful lot of posts from people asking where the free stuff could be found. A lot of the younger crowd seemed to be spending more time downstairs with the panels and the table signings, but mostly waiting in lines for things to begin or to start moving.
Some people did complain that they had to buy the books, but most people really didn’t seem to care.
I’ll get back to some of the issues with the downstairs events. As I had decided to forego the table signings and panels, I headed for the showroom floor. I had a schedule written out, but was kind of thrown off mostly because of the bizarre way they brought us to the showroom floor. The first thing I did was hit Hatchette for galleys then made my way over to Penguin. So, here is the way Penguin set up and I will preface it by saying the signing lines organized by Penguin were the best run lines at BEA. The booth had two tables at each end where the signings were held and sometimes the galleys were distributed from. I walked into Penguin and saw a line going into the booth and there was a table with all kinds of swag, so I figured I’m game and got on line. Slowest moving line for swag ever. I’m talking buttons, posters, samplers, etc. I have no idea what was going on but there were tables lined up along either of the long sides. There was a table for children’s swag, then YA swag, then a table with books (freebies and some display only) and then a couple more, one with audio and another with books. I cannot tell you what the hold-up was, but by the time I got through the line, some of the very fine swag I had noted was gone and there wasn’t much left I was interested in. No, I do not need a John Green Paper Towns poster. Thanks, though. What a monumental waste of my time.
So, let talk about Penguin for a minute. I realize I am jumping ahead in the timeline, but this way I can keep it all together. The tables with the signings were handled real well, but no matter what time of the day I went through the Penguin booth, there was a huge line going down the center. On the other side, there was also a bank of tables. There was one with swag, one with tablets to sign up for programs and then some with books. The one causing all the issues was the First Line program. They had two tablets to sign up. People were in line and getting the swag, but were then bogged down by the time it took to sign up for the First Line program. So the line was not moving at all. I was amazed that for a publisher who normally had everything running so smoothly that they would be so disorganized inside their booth. Also, people were kind of disregarding the fact that people were actually in line and were just jumping in line. It was quite chaotic.
Charlaine Harris was signing at Penguin at 10:30, but there was no way in hell I was going to be able to get into that line. I don’t read her books anyway, so it didn’t matter much.
I wanted to get the lay of the land, so I walked up and down the aisles grabbing what looked interesting. After viewing the floor lay out, it made sense to me why the BEA floor was laid out as it was. All the publishers that were going to participate in Book Con were all down at the south end of the building where the autographing tables were last year. Where last year there had been a rope to segregate Book Con from BEA, this year there was a wall. Only part of the floor was open, so there was only the one door and it was down at the far end. Suddenly it made sense why they brought us the way they did.
I was going to get on the 12:00 signing of JLA, but the line was already capped. I wandered aimlessly and found myself at Simon & Schuster where they were giving out copies of Stephen King’s new book and had a sign up for a Kim Harrison signing happening. There weren’t too many people in line, not even 10 I think, so I jumped in line. It was an ARC of her new book and my friend Terri had asked for it, but I couldn’t get to her table at BEA. As we waited, they came by and handed out Tshirts. The shirts were for the first 25 people in line. (Sorry, P, I’m keeping the shirt.) Then they came by and asked for everyone with a shirt to hold it up to the front of themselves and they took pictures of the group. Then not long after, they came back and said they needed to take pictures again because KH actually wanted to get a picture of herself with the group donning her T shirts. So, yeah, I did a photo shoot with Kim Harrison. When it was my turn, I got a copy of the book signed for Terri, but I asked her if I could get a second one for myself. I was totally willing to get back in the end of the line, but KH was like, “Of course!” and I got that one personalized to me. She was all kinds of awesome!
After Kim Harrison, I went to Penguin and got a signed 50th Anniversary edition of The Phantom Tollbooth. I was actually pretty excited about this. It was one of my favorite books when I was younger. Once I was done there, I didn’t have anything in particular to do, so I walked a bit, picking up a couple of books. HarperCollins was having a spin and win at 1:30, so I decided to go over there around 1:00 and sit for a while. I had about a half hour to wait. The Harper Booth was right next to the Downtown Stage, so I got to listen to a panel while on line. It was actually pretty funny. It was four romance authors in a quiz show. They were asked questions about books and other forms of media based on books, like movies.
That did help pass the time, but it was finally time for spin & win. I will tell you. My luck is always that there is something I really want and never get. This time I either wanted Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (the galley was on the table in from of me at BEA, but for some inexplicable reason I decided not to pick it up, so now , of course, I have to have it) and book 2 in The Jewel series by Amy Ewing. Of course, I got neither of those. I did, though, get a book I already picked up at BEA, so, yay.
After spinning and losing, I decided to go get in line for Carrie Ryan. I had gotten a copy of her book, Daughter of Deep Silence, but I figured Terri would like this one as well, so I sat in line and waited. It gave my feet another little rest. From there I headed back to HarperCollins for a Welcome to Nightvale sampler. There was a panel for Nightvale, which, of course, you couldn’t get near. It is amazing how popular that podcast is.
I didn’t have anything else but a drawing for a tote bag full of galleys. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I thought it was to enter for a drawing. In actuality, it was for the drawing of people who signed up for BookPerk that day. I am already on the BookPerk email list, so I never entered. That is when I decided to pack it in.
Since I only had my small suitcase and it was not that full, I was in pretty good shape walking back to the ferry. Still a little stiff and sore from the prior three days, it still wasn’t bad.
My friend John was going to join me for Sunday, but as with so many things, nothing ever seems to go according to plan, but when it comes to John, he throws the plan out the window, but more on that tomorrow.
Captain Underpants in the house!!