As soon as BookExpo 2018 winds down, the Javits Center becomes home to BookCon. The 2018 show is the fifth installment of ReedPop’s annual consumer conference, which hosted roughly 20,000 people last year. This year’s will be held June 2 and 3.
Ed Several, Reed’s senior v-p for BookExpo, says that registration for the show is up 5%, but he also acknowledges that BookCon is a walk-up show, so it’s difficult to predict attendance. Additionally, he says that, along with publishers and companies who will have booths at both BookExpo and BookCon, there are 40 who are taking booths at BookCon only—an indicator that the show has achieved a strong identity as a venue where companies can reach book-loving consumers.
For Kids, Teens, and Beyond
Like BookExpo, BookCon has some new elements, adding more genres—such as mystery/thriller, sci-fi, romance, and nonfiction—to augment its focus on young adult material. One result of that strategy has been to again increase its offerings for younger book fans and their families. Last week, BookCon announced a major addition to its family programming: an interactive experience based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, featuring an appearance by series author Jeff Kinney on Sunday, June 3 at 3:15 p.m., in Room 1E10. The interactive experience will be based on book 12 in the series, The Getaway, released last November. Fans will be able to walk through a recreation of the family vacation that the Heffleys take in the book, and they can participate in contests and giveaways and preview the next book in the series. In addition to the Wimpy Kid feature, the show floor will have a “family HQ” area, where workshops and activities will be held.
The lineup of other big names is impressive. There are plenty of celebs who hail from beyond the world of books, including actor Taye Diggs, who collaborated with his childhood best friend Shane Evans on the picture book I Love You More Than..., a love letter to children of parents who travel frequently. The pair will appear on Saturday, June 2, at 12:30 p.m., in Room 1E10, in a discussion moderated by Long Way Down author Jason Reynolds.
Also appearing on Saturday, at 3 p.m., is DeRay McKessen, host of the popular political podcast Pod Save the People, who will moderate a panel called “Social Justice Warriors: Redefining Youthful Rebellion” with YA writers Reynolds, Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), and Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), in Room 1E10.
John Lewis, civil rights figure and congressman, will be at BookCon, as well as at BookExpo, to promote his graphic novel collaborations, including the upcoming Run, along with his collaborators Andrew Aydin and Afua Richardson. A panel on civil rights, “Marching Along with Congressman John Lewis,” will be held on Saturday, at noon, on the Downtown Stage, with a signing at 2 p.m.
Marisha Pessl, whose debut adult novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, made her an instant literary sensation upon its publication in 2006, will be at the show promoting her first YA novel, Neverworld Wake; she will participate in a panel called “Horror! Thrills! Murder! Oh My!” along with Kiersten White and Kara Thomas, on Saturday, at 11 a.m., on the Downtown Stage.
Fans will have a chance to meet Shannon and Dean Hale, the married authors of the Princess in Black series; the pair will be autographing on Saturday, June 2, at 1:30 p.m. in booth 2021. Shannon will also moderate the panel “Wonder Women: Kid Lit Stars Pack Power in Prose” the same day at 3:45 p.m., in Room 1E16.
Many of this year’s events are organized around some of today’s most pressing topics, from social justice to diversity and LGBTQ issues. For instance, sci-fi and fantasy publisher Tor is sponsoring a panel called “LGBTQ+ Authors on Gender and Identity in Science Fiction and Fantasy,” featuring Charlie Jane Anders, Seth Dickenson, S.L. Huang, and V.E. Schwab, who will discuss how these issues influence their work on Saturday, June 2, 12:45–1:30 p.m., in Room 1E16.
Poetry has recently become a sort of surprise hit with teen readers, who are encountering versifiers on social media. Several poets who contributed to the anthology [Dis]connected, which focuses on poetry in the age of social media, will participate in the panel “The Poetry Connection: Stories from Today’s Most Popular Poets,” on Saturday, at 5:15 p.m., on the Downtown Stage.
Big Adult Authors and Grown Up Genres
Bill Clinton and James Patterson will be the marquis attractions for adults at BookCon, but there will be plenty of other big names at the show as well. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk will read from his new novel Adjustment Day on Saturday, June 2, at 3:45 p.m., in Room 1E10. Four of the most popular authors in the adult mystery/thriller world—Sandra Brown, David Baldacci, Brad Meltzer, and Walter Mosley—will appear together in a conversation moderated by Meghan Abbott to discuss their writing process and turning books into films, also on Saturday, at 11:45 a.m., in Room 1E14.
One major change that attendees should be mindful of is that tickets are now required to attend book signings in the BookCon autographing area, and attendees are limited to two signings per day.