SO. We're doing this. BookCon was a 2-day whirlwind of bookish magic, and I'm about to attempt to put into words just how wonderful this convention ended up being. Someone remind me why I do this to myself.
For those of you who aren't entirely sure what BookCon is, it's basically a huge convention where bookworms unite to learn about upcoming book releases from publishers who have booths and often give away ARCs throughout both days of the convention, shop for bookish merch at the bookish business booths on the show floor, visit panels and signings hosted by prominent and bestselling authors in the book community, and, of course, meet up with other bookworms who have similar interests. It's a place where those passionate about books come together in one space, and it's even more fantastic than it sounds.
When I first learned about BookCon last year from bookstagram, I knew immediately that I just had to find a way to get there. And this year... that's what I did! I traveled all 2500 miles from Los Angeles to New York City with a heart full of excitement, and BookCon fully met and exceeded the very high expectations I had set.
So with that not-so-quick intro out of the way, I figured I'd just go through the highlights! There were SO many things that I loved about BookCon, but I think I've managed to settle on 4 aspects of the convention that truly stood out:
(PS: I'll be sharing some strategies and tips after the highlights so scroll down to see those if you're wondering what worked/what I wished I had done during my time in NYC!)
Being a bookstagrammer who LOVES to engage with other bookworms in the Instagram community, I've been lucky enough to form incredible relationships online with fellow book photographers and business owners. BookCon gave me the opportunity to meet a whole lot of these online friends face-to-face, and observing how my online relationships translated seamlessly to in-person relationships was an experience I'm so thankful for and that I'll never forget.
Probably the best way to spend your time while at the convention, the show floor is filled with booths sponsored by publishers, self-published authors, and bookish businesses. I personally spent almost the entire day both days just wandering the floor, and while my feet were exhausted by the end of each day, I stumbled upon ARCs on multiple occasions and was able to discover some FANTASTIC businesses!
Anna (@alittlebookworld) and I getting our books signed by Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Raven Cycle series, Shiver series, and The Scorpio Races!
3. Authors, Panels, and Publishers!
As I mentioned earlier, BookCon is the place to be if you're looking to connect with your favorite authors and publishers. I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Penguin Young Readers Influencer breakfast along with 5 fall release authors on Saturday morning before the convention, and just getting to chat with authors like Marie Lu and Stephanie Perkins about books and writing was a priceless experience. Although I only made it to one panel at the convention itself, hearing from a few YA contemporary queens (Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Shannon Hale) at the Find Your Voice panel was so, so cool: listening to different authors who each have different writing styles and getting to witness the authors interact with each other is something you truly won't get anywhere other than at book conventions, BookCon being the ultimate example.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao, out October 10th, 2017!
4. ARCs ARCs ARCs!
One of the main reasons a lot of people go to BookCon is to get the chance to pick up some super cool upcoming releases. Trust me, I know all too well the thrill of getting to read a book before its official release date, and BookCon certainly delivers that: almost every publisher you can think of is present and is giving away exciting new books. While I didn't focus my days on trying to find ARCs (the lines were MASSIVE everywhere I turned), I was lucky enough to score some books I'm so hyped to read asap (like the one pictured above!).
Overall, BookCon truly is the convention of bookworms' dreams, and I can only hope I get the chance to go back someday (next year possibly? ;)).
So now for some strategies and tips! I did do a little bit of research before getting to New York, and here are some of the things I found worked as well as what I recommend doing if you're planning on going to BookCon next year:
1. PACK SNACKS
I can't say the food at the Javits Center was that spectacular (or even that good), so packing snacks to have throughout the day as well as water is ESSENTIAL. There's a high chance you either won't find options at the restaurants there or won't want to leave the floor/panel you're attending, so packing something to eat is a perfect way to avoid hunger and hunger-induced fatigue.
2. BRING A SUITCASE AND LEAVE IT AT COAT CHECK
Seriously. I can't recommend this enough. Bring an empty suitcase with you to the convention center and pay $3 not to break your back and shoulders. Rolling bags aren't allowed on the show floor itself, but checking a suitcase and having a tote bag while you wander the convention allows you to run back and forth between the floor and the coat check to empty your tote of the weight of the many books you will inevitably accumulate throughout the day.
3. DON'T PICK UP ARCS YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED IN
Just don't do it! You'll end up with a suitcase you can't close and there's a pretty high chance you won't ever end up reading the book you picked up. Plus, you never know if you just took an ARC or book someone else really would've loved to have!
4. IS SPIN THE WHEEL REALLY WORTH IT?
I mean, that's your decision to make when it comes down to it, but I know I'd rather see what ARCs are being given out or go to a panel rather than wait for 30-45 minutes in a spin the wheel line that will likely end up with you winning a relatively small prize.
5. UNLESS GETTING A GOOD SEAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU OR THE PANEL IS LIKELY TO BE VERY POPULAR, DON'T GO WAIT IN ADVANCE
For the one panel I spent the entire hour watching, I waited for 45 minutes beforehand and got a meh seat in the 4th row where I couldn't perfectly see the authors presenting. I stopped by 2 other panels for a few minutes (that were pretty amazing panels with super popular authors!) without waiting at all, and while I wasn't able to get a seat, there was plenty of space in the back of the room to stand and watch with a perfect view of the presenters. And that means you get an extra 45 minutes to do things that aren't sitting around and waiting!
And that's it! I hope you all get a chance at some point to attend BookCon because it's SUCH an amazing and unforgettable experience... and hopefully I'll see you there (if I can find a way to get there next year)!
Make sure to come back Wednesday for a new review!