This past weekend, I attended my very first large-scale book event. While I've participated and attended dozens of signings as an author and reader, this was far beyond the scope of any event I've ever attended. Here's my thoughts on BookCon:
1. It was HUGE.
Like a good nerd and fangirl, I spent the weeks prior to BookCon familiarizing myself with the exhibit floor, attending authors, panels, and everything else I could think of.
But seeing it on a computer screen and standing there in person were two vast worlds apart. It. Was. HUGE. The queue area alone was larger than two or three high school gyms. And that's just for people to stand there!
The actual exhibit floor was so massive, I instantly got lost. I spent the first hour just wandering around taking it all in because I was so, so, so overwhelmed. Each booth had it's own flooring, wall decor, book stands, signage. It was a kaleidoscope of texture and color and design and my poor eyeballs couldn't decipher it.
2. There were a ton of people!
As in, there were thousands of people. And even on the huge exhibit floor, there wasn't enough space for all those people. I was bumped and shoved and pushed and thankfully everyone was relatively polite about all of it, but still! So. Many. People.
And, as people tend to do, they formed lines for every little thing. Want a coffee? Line! Want to enter to win a pen? Line! Want an ARC? Line! Want to spin a wheel? Line! Want to go to the bathroom? Line!
You couldn't do *anything* without standing in a line of at least 20-30 minutes, and some of them were over two hours!
Because of the line situation, I personally opted out of all the speakings and panels. Even an hour before the start, there was a line out the door and hundreds of people already falling into line behind them.
3. I didn't meet any of the authors I went to see :(
BookCon is a huge, huge event, and my silly naive self did not realize the scale of it, even as I prepped to go. I packed up books of all my favorite attending authors and showed up ready to meet them.
But you had to buy a ticket in advance! Weeks in advance! And they were all sold out now. I was crushed.
I mean, I get it. It's a huge event and that's the only way to really manage it. But I wanted to meet Maggie Stiefvater and Marissa Meyer and Leigh Bardugo and all the rest. I didn't expect to find them locked down tighter than the White House and no way to access them aside from the one-hour paid signing. It just didn't click, and I'm super bummed that I'm such a dummy and didn't figure it out in time.
4. There weren't that many authors there!
I know. You're like, um Rachel. It's a room of authors! But really, it was mostly publishers. And I mean publishers of *every* kind. There were non-fiction and childrens, coffee table books and reading apps, and several large booths of various language books from China, Korea, and somewhere in the Middle East.
Even for the publishers that published books by authors I loved only had an author or two present at any time, and sometimes none. Since I didn't get to see the authors I wanted to see, I decided to try to meet and buy signed books from new-to-me authors. It turned out to be harder than I thought!
5. I got some books!
Despite the chaos, the lines, the bumping and all the rest of it, I still walked away with a stack of books!
Here's what I got:
1. A book plate of All The Crooked Saints
2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
3. Mort(e) by Robert Rupino plus bonus novella and tote
4. ARC of Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
5. ARC of The Walking Land by Callie Bates
6. Would I go again?
Yes! Even though it was *super* expensive (Parking in NYC was $65!) and I didn't meet my favorite authors, I would still go back and do it all again.
I had such a blast chatting with other book lovers, seeing the scope of major publishing companies, and checking out new-to-me authors and new-to-me books. BookCon is a temple devoted to the worship of books, and I am a happy member of it's congregation.