After initially postponing BookExpo and BookCon 2020 from their original May 27–31 dates to July 22-26, Reedpop has canceled both events. The cancellation is the latest in a string of them affecting the biggest conferences and fairs in the book business worldwide, including the London Book Fair, the Bologna Children's Book Fair (which is planning a virtual fair beginning May 4), and the ALA annual meeting and conference.
In a statement on the Reed website, event director Jenny Martin said that while Reed had been optimistic the events could be held in late July, it has become clear that a conference set to be held at New York City’s Javits Center would not work. “As the pandemic has continued to escalate in the United States and we see the challenges it has brought for the book industry, it is clear that 2020 is no longer a viable option for this community,” Martin wrote.
Reed’s decision comes after all Big Five trade publishers, as well as Ingram Content Group, had withdrawn their plans to attend the event over the course of the past month. In doing so, all pointed to the uncertainty over business conditions caused by the spread the virus as making it impossible for them to plan to attend the fair.
In her note, Martin said Reed continued to work with the Javits Center, the hotel community, and contractors to find new dates, but nothing materialized. “The available options do not meet the necessary criteria to support the business needs of our industry,” Martin wrote.
Reed did not announce new dates for BookExpo and BookCon in 2021, only saying that the events, along with an adjacent non-book-item–focused show, UnBound, would take place in the spring. While the physical events have been canceled, Martin said Reed hopes it can find new ways to help publishers connect with readers. (Last week, Reedpop launched its BookCon Read-A-Thon, a digital reading forum hosted via Facebook.)
Any tickets that were bought for the 2020 event will be automatically refunded, Reed said. “We stand with you and we will do everything we can in the coming months to highlight your business, bring our community together and support you,” Martin said in her note.