Early this week, there was news that one of the biggest industry and fan-based book festivals will be retiring. Book Expo and BookCon. You can read more about this here.
Obviously, I’m a little sad about this. The world has seen a lot of changes this year with the pandemic and that includes the loss of various book festivals. One of my most highly anticipated events and one of my favorite events have been retired and it’s difficult to get over.
BookCon was one of those events I planned a year in advance. When I lived in New York, I would create spreadsheets of all the panels I wanted to go to, the ARC distribution times I needed to wait in line for. I would always go with my bookish best friend and we would wander the halls of the Javits Center eating really crappy chicken fingers and waiting in line to see my favorite author. You haven’t lived until you’ve grabbed an ARC of the most highly anticipated novel of the year off the hands of a frantic marketing intern working at the PRH booth. Book Expo was an event I coveted going to as well. I never got the chance to go, but I would have loved to see what an industry-specific event would look like, how it moves and inspires those who sell books.
And just like so many things that have happened in this year, it’s gone.
Festivals like this are so informative and fun. You meet many of your favorite authors, you go to different panels where they discuss the themes or topics or even just the book they’ve written. You do fun fan-centric things at the different booths. And of course, you get deep discounts on your books as well as nab some incredible ARCs of the books everyone is excited about. The best part is finding friends you either spoke to on the internet or made while you wandered around. As readers, we tend to spend a lot of time alone with our books. We have thoughts and feelings that we need to share and we go online to find friends who want to chat about it. Having events like BookCon were a way for friends to come together in real life and have those bookish chats together.
I heard that they’re going to find a virtual way of hosting these events in the future, but honestly I don’t think that’s feasible. There’s something about in-person events that make them more fun. I know it’s easy to sit down to a Zoom call and face your favorite author, but seeing them in the flesh and breathing the same air as them is really magical too. Plus, there’s always the possibility of grabbing a photo or getting your book signed.
I’m truly going to miss BookCon. It was always a highlight of my years in the past. Luckily I’m still friends with some of the folks I’ve met in the past and hopefully there will be other conventions and festivals to attend in the future…whenever that might be. I leave you with some joyful images from the last time I went to BookCon in 2018 (plays Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”).