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Although my take on the first BookCon was positive, it was definitely crowded and unorganized, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that some people had a total crap time:

BookCon was horrible.  It was the worst bookish experience of my life.  Maybe that’s not saying much because my bookish experiences have been rather pleasant so the bar isn’t really all that low to begin with, but BookCon set a new low that I don’t think any other event/panel/insertyourbookeventhere will ever be able to match.

This person even went so far to make videos of the crowds:

And yeah, there were crowds. Have I ever mentioned that the Javits Center was not designed for consumer shows? The comments on the above post are also pretty uniformly negative, so there is some PR to be done here.

Despite the problems, it does look like Reed Expo/ReedPOP is set on making BookCon a permanent adjunct of BEA, and perhaps even making the two events separate down the line. With the crowding and other logistical issues addressed, I still think this concept is here to stay.

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  1. Can you explain what part of the floor was BookCon and where was the BEA? Did they stick BookCon in the Artist’s Alley space they used for NYCC last year? Sounds like such a disappointment. I went to Power Reader Day in 2013 and had a great time, but bad experiences with NYCC turned me off from BookCon.

  2. “Did they stick BookCon in the Artist’s Alley space they used for NYCC last year?”

    No, they were on the same main floor, since most of the BEA publishers were joining in on BookCon; there was just some sort of rough line of demarcation that said this side is BEA, and this side is BookCon. This was also because BEA passes allowed access to BookCon, but not vice versa.

    I think a lot of the freak-out reactions from book people (and I’ve seen a *lot* of that posted online, especially the “who let all those damn teenagers in here to see their favorite authors?” kind) is that BEA attendees are used to quiet conferences, not madhouse conventions. If I remember correctly, the blog linked to above has comments from people saying how they’d have to load up on Xanax, they can’t deal with crowds, etc. Just…calm down. Be thankful so many kids actually want to read.

    I wasn’t surprised when Reed announced BookCon is going to two days next year; the show might have been chaotic, but it proved there’s an audience for it. The question will be, what happens when BEA moves to Chicago for the 2016 show—will ReedPOP schedule a BookCon on its own for that weekend, or must it be wedded to the trade show to have the publishers involved?

  3. I think the issue is not with kids or the crowds. Crowds I can handle. Children and teens I can handle (and I applaud and support their being there!). But it’s truly a dangerous situation when you can’t even exit because you are pinned between people. And the thing is, the number of people wasn’t advertised anywhere I saw until I was by the info booth seeking safety from the horde of people and snagged that Show Daily article.
    The kids issue stems from people bringing their 6-month-old babies in slings to an event like this where 10k people are squeezed into that space. Don’t bring your baby to a Con. Period. It isn’t safe.

  4. Having been to any number of comic conventions over the years: Yup, that looks crowded. Of course, that’s the autograph area, where there will be long lines of people clogging things up. I actually saw more movement there than I expected. Was it that bad across the rest of the floor, too?

    Also, as a comics con veteran — how cool to see a convention floor where the men are such a tiny minority in that video.

  5. “And the thing is, the number of people wasn’t advertised anywhere I saw until I was by the info booth seeking safety from the horde of people and snagged that Show Daily article.”

    Well, I never said that Reed was great at passing along information. ;-) I was one of the exhibitors in the Saturday-only booths, and Reed had told us to expect around 10,000 fans. I think the problem was that they didn’t really *expect* all 10,000 to actually show up, and quickly lost crowd control when they did. Still, I take it as a positive sign to know that a one-day book festival could get the sort of response. Better planning (and wider aisles) would have improved the experience.

    If you prefer a quieter book show, I highly recommend the Brooklyn Book Festival in September. It’s an open-air venue and the complete opposite of the madness last Saturday. I’ve been exhibiting there the past few years and always look forward to it.

    “Don’t bring your baby to a Con. Period. It isn’t safe.”

    Well, we’ve all been saying the same thing with regard to comic conventions for years and no one bothers to listen; ankle-stabbing strollers are even worse than slings. Just be grateful the BookCon aisles weren’t filled with cosplayers blocking the way so they can pose for pictures—those are the equivalent of ten-car pile-ups every ten seconds. You’d never have reached the info booth! :D

  6. Oh, people. It’s why I don’t like going to cons, and why I like the vendor pass. Not good with crowds. Not in the least. Anyway, on the plus side, LOVE that a book con was so well attended. On the minus side – man, it sure does suck when an organization under-plans for volume.

  7. Book Con was in Hall 3E.

    The aisles were crowded, but not NYCC crowded.
    I had no trouble navigating, of moving along aisles, or entering or exiting the main entrance to 3E.
    ReedPOP did cap attendance when it hit 10K.
    (BEA attendance usually hit 12K for the show floor, about 20K total.)
    They were quick to set up stanchions and lines for the panel rooms.

    Also, that autographing area pictured? It was just as busy on Thursday and Friday during the trade show. Maybe better organized, without thousands of fans trying to get in line. Ticketing would probably solve that.

  8. In my limited time at BookCon, I would describe the crowding situation as…schizophrenic. There were some aisles that you could walk from one end to the other uninterrupted. Other aisles were as congested as the worst NYCC passageways typically are. It varied depending on which aisles had the most popular signings or giveaways.

    And I’m not predisposed to stick up for the BookCon organizers–I have my own issues with the Con–But I think the problem with the signing mentioned in the blog had more to do with the people who ran the booth than BookCon itself. Other exhibitors had the staff and planning to make their signings a whole lot less chaotic.

  9. I think it was great to see the growth of the consumer component for BEA.

    We had first suggested the idea back when I served on the advisory board for the show and we pointed to events like SDCC, Frankfurt and other shows where consumer and trade business are done on the same floor. There was some resistance to the idea from the traditional members of the show but then it was pointed out that BEA needed something to give it a reason for being held. Otherwise, it was a great four days where you could run into all your publishing industry friends.

    For those who had a bad or less than good experience, have some patience with the ReedPop folks and provide suggestions. There are also going to be publishers who are learning better ways to manage signings and events. It will get better….and bigger.

  10. “For those who had a bod or less than good experience, have some patience with ReedPop folks and provide suggestions”
    Sorry I was on the feedback panel for BEA/Power Reader 2013 and what I and the others suggested is NOT what we were faced with, we asked for bigger space, more days, being included n more things since most of the feedback panel was made up of people that are trying to get into the blogging/book world ourselves. What we were presented with in Book Con was he exact opposite of what we suggested.
    What I found out while talking to others is that this Book Con was a “test run” for when the expo moved to Chicago in 2016. ReedPop has one more year to get their act together before they move this circus, I’m all for adding a second day for Book Con, but they need to really put their foot down with the BEA/BookCon segregation since there was no one over on the BEA side that Sat and the room was really needed for those that were getting hit with panic attacks, the lack of bathrooms that were accessible, ect.

  11. The setup isn’t adverse to conventions, the handling is. Sure, that space would be perfect for conferences, but it could also be great for conventions if they were better organized and the capacity better managed. 10,000 people! With only half the convention center! And another 10,000 from the other half who can wander over at any time! That’s ridiculous.

    Plus, I didn’t see a single author that I was interested in. They should have had a whole aisle for romance authors/publishers, a whole aisle for children’s, a whole aisle for young adult, etc. That way people could find their favorite type of books without aimlessly pushing their way through the crowd. And they needed place for people to sit and relax. Whatever happened to the first couple years at NYCC when they had the tables and food carts right on the show floor? That was great. Spread the exhibitor booths out, segretate the genres, and allow space for people to sit and relax. That’s all they need to do. Oh, and more panels so the entire world isn’t trying to get into a single room to see Cary Elwes! Give us some variety and then set aside overflow rooms to organize (ORGANIZE – as in ropes and some sort of actual system that does not include herding people like cattle) lines waiting to get into panels. One of the reasons I wanted to leave was that I started to wonder if we would actually get into the panel. People who had only recently arrived had somehow ended up ahead of us in line, which was more of a holding pen so there was no guarantee that the earlier you arrived, the better your chances. More like the less scruples you held and the more of a bully you are, the better your chances. When that sunk in, I was out.

  12. BEA is a dead show only destined to shrink and disappear.

    As the population of retail book buyers shrinks and become less and less significant to the health of the business there’s less and less reason for the trade show to exist, which is evident from the steady decrease in publisher participation. The show is shorter, has fewer authors of note, and less on offer to attendees every year. There’s little reason for publishers to spend much money to put on a show for bloggers and librarians who, quite frankly, can be very effectively wooed much more cheaply.

    Adding BookCon offers little prospect of expanding the show as Reed is essentially running a shitty book fair with publishers in attendance little prepared or equipped to offer a positive experience to the people coming to the show. BookCon also directly undermines much of the inherent appeal of BEA as a trade show, which is evident from the fact that the trade show was sparsely attended and virtually everyone on the trade show spent Saturday packing up for lack of anything better to do.

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