We hear so much these days about how the book business is in turmoil. Major publishers are merging, budgets are being tightened, and author advances slashed. And we also hear that there is less actual reading of books going on, with people turning to gaming, the internet, and Tivo.
Then something like BookCon comes along and makes you feel a lot more hopeful.
Inaugurated last year as a one-day addition to BEA, BookCon is a consumer fair, not a trade fair like BEA. It’s held at the Javits Center right after BEA as a chance for publishers to target their readers directly with booths, panels, promotional materials, and appearances by major authors and celebrities. Last year was successful beyond everyone’s expectations—over 10,000 people attended—so much so that this year’s event lasted two days, stretching over the entire weekend. The attendee total for this year is not in yet, but it looks to be even higher.
Bear in mind that all these people paid $40-45 cover charge per day to attend, and they schlepped all the way to the Javits Center, which—as any weary BEA visitor will attest to—is a long, dreary half-mile hike from the nearest subway station through an unlovely landscape of construction zones. Of course, some of this year’s attendees were there for the chance to meet show-business celebrities like Taye Diggs, David Duchovny, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, and John Leguizamo, who were promoting their memoirs and children’s books. But the meat of BookCon was the widely-attended schedule of panels and talks by authors known and soon-to-be known, including Rainbow Rowell, R.L. Stine, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, James Dashner, Tessa Elwood, and Helen Phillips. And there were panels on just about every genre, including romance, mystery, fantasy, and children’s books.
Anyone who thinks that books are a dying business, or that people just aren’t reading much anymore, should stop by Book Con 2016. They’ll come out of it knowing that reading is not going away anytime soon.
Did you attend BookCon this year? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.