BookCon drew hordes of people to the Jacob Javits Convention Center on Sunday, the second day of the consumer-focused literary fan-fest. While the number of attendees on Sunday seemed smaller than on Saturday--official attendance figures from show organizer ReedPop will not be available until later in the week--the crowds seemed pleased with organizational improvements made to the show. For the publishers, this year's Con was about more experimentation, especially on the sales front.
Paola Foresti, 13, traveled to BookCon from Brazil, where she met up with two online friends, who had both attended BookCon last year, and convinced her to come. “Last year was awful, frankly, but this year, it’s been nice," Foresti’s friend, 14-year-old Olivia Reinert from Pennsylvania, noted. Reinert complained of lines for different events merging, last year, and said that "everything is a lot more organized this year.” Her one complaint about this year's show was that the autographing policy, which required attendees to purchase books at WORD's Javits pop-up in order to have them signed by authors in the autographing area, was not enforced. (Some books signed by authors in the autographing area were giveaways and not for sale, which added to the confusion.)
Crowds on both days seemed predominantly young, white, and female, although Sunday’s demographic seemed more diverse than Saturday’s. Throughout the day, long lines of people snaked up and down aisles in the exhibit hall. Among the big draws were bestselling authors ranging from James Dashner to E. Lockhart. Lines leading into the Hachette pavilion averaged 300 people wanting signed giveaways from authors like David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille and Elin Hilderbrand.
Hachette was one of the publishers that did not add a retail element to its Con. “We agreed as a company that we would not sell books and we would give WORD the business for authors appearing at the panels downstairs,” explained Karen Torres, Hachette’s director of sales and marketing.
While some exhibitors both sold and gave away books, others focused solely on giveaways. Abrams sold books in its booth, and marketing/publicity director Jason Wells expressed gratitude that, with Hachette next door, long lines of people ended up browsing the titles in Abrams’ booth.
Sourcebooks gave away 1,000-1,200 copies each day of 11 titles. The goal was to grow the readership for debut authors, and a few authors with sophomore titles publishing in the fall.
Albert Whitman and Company's director of marketing and sales, Mike Spradlin, said Whitman's strategy was to fill two bookcases with free overstock by "four or five" authors; on each copy's back cover was a sticker promoting the author's fall releases. “It was like a plague of locusts--but in a good way,” he said, gesturing on Sunday afternoon towards the barren shelves. “They were friendly locusts.”
Mary Rowles, IPG’s publishers' development manager, said that BookCon had been “mostly positive” this year. With IPG set to participate in next year's BookCon, Rowles noted that the company would “make some adjustments” as to which publishers would be encouraged to exhibit. “The demographic is teen, YA fiction,” she noted. “We’ll do more with publishers who are strong in that area.”
As BookCon wound down Sunday afternoon, ReedPop announced on social media that BookCon 2016 would be a one-day event, as it was when it debuted in 2014, and that it will be moving to Chicago, along with next year's BEA. BookCon 2016 is set to take place immediately after BEA, on May 14, at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Due to an editing error, the original version of this story stated that BookCon attendee Olivia Reinert complained about ReedPOP's requirement that attendees had to purchase books from WORD before being allowed to enter autographing lines for certain authors. In reality, Reinert complained that the policy was not enforced and that purchase receipts were not being checked by security personnel in the autographing area.