A scene from the 2019 BookExpo at the Javits Center

ReedPop has just announced that BookExpo and BookCon have been permanently cancelled. 

BookExpo is the latest variation of biggest annual show for booksellers, publishers and authors, formerly held in late May in New York. BookCon is a consumer facing show that launched out of it several years ago. Both events were postponed and then cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, although online versions of both were held.

ReedPop is looking at how to rebuild the shows, according to Publishers Weekly.

Event director Jenny Martin said that ReedPop is talking to publishers, booksellers, and other partners to investigate how to rebuild the events.

“The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s needs,” Martin said in a statement. “This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.”

ReedPop will continue to host the BookCon Facebook group, and said that readers can find book-related content in upcoming virtual Metaverse events. ReedPop, which holds a number of pop culture events annually, created Metaverse after moving Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) and Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) from their usual spots in the spring to December 2021.

BookExpo sprang out of what was once the BEA (Book Expo America) and previously the ABA (American Booksellers Association) which launched all the way back in 1947.

The annual affair was once a grand showcase of big publisher might, with busy  signings, lavish parties and tons of business in both rights and orders from booksellers. It was also a place where booksellers, librarians and media swarmed to pick up advance galleys of hotly anticipated titles and meet their favorite authors.

In recent years, the show’s purpose had evolved, given the advent of the internet and Amazon, and some of the largest publishers had pulled out of their once huge and star-filled booths. Galleys went digital and library shows, book fairs and even comic cons started to fill some of the spaces BookExpo had formerly taken.

BookCon launched in 2014 as a way for more readers to connect with authors – BookExpo is trade only – and succeeded in transferring some of the excitement found at comic cons to the traditional book space However it never quite found the perfect execution.

ReedPOP and its parent, Reed Exhibitions, have understandably struggled during the pandemic, with various waves of layoffs. In the most recent wave, well known execs including Kuo-Yu Liang and Brian Jacks were among those laid off.

It’s unsurprising that he event space has been gutted by the pandemic. That said, it’s hard to see a post-pandemic future where there isn’t a big annual book show, but like other big events, it will undoubtedly evolve into a new form post COVID-19.