Dear Staff of BookCon*,
When I found out that there was going to be an entire convention dedicated to books, I was ecstatic. Book signings, giveaways, panel discussions! I didn’t have to think twice about going. It got even better when I was able to enter my job credentials and get a free press pass to go. I was all geared up and ready to head into the city bright and early Saturday morning.
Quickly my excitement turned into aggravation and cries of “Why did I do this?” and “I just want to go home.” There were so many things wrong with your event. Some of them I cannot fault you with (the blame lies with the Javits Center) but plenty of the blame is your fault.
I am going to start with the aspects of the event that plenty of attendees have complained about but you yourselves did not have any control over. The bathrooms were few and far between. When you finally did locate a bathroom, the line was at least 20 people long. That is the Javits Center for you. It’s a huge space and if you’re having a large convention or fair in NYC, this is the only place you want to be held. However, as far as convention centers go, it’s rather abysmal. Like I mentioned already, the bathroom situation is atrocious. There need to be more and they need to be easier to find. Aside from that, the Javits Center is in a crappy location with a 10-15 minute walk from the closest train station. There are no redeemable places to eat close by, which means most attendees are stuck getting something from the ridiculously overpriced food court. All of this really blows but none of it is BookCon’s fault. Again, if you are having a convention in NYC, it has to be held at the Javits Center. The place is HUGE!
Which brings me to one of the areas where you guys really blew it! BookCon was packed! You guys were terribly ill-prepared for the crowds, which doesn’t really make sense to me. You guys sold tickets. Did you not keep track of how many tickets were being bought? How could you be so ill-prepared for the large crowd? The entire layout of the event made no sense to me. The autographing lines were set up right next to the booths. This made it difficult to A. figure out where the line started for autographs and B. check out some of the booths closest to the autograph area. Did you think only five people would want to get autographs from their favorite authors?
The line situation in the entire place was horrible. There was absolutely no organization to anything and the staff was not very helpful. Whether it was staff from BookCon or staff from the Javits, it did not matter. No one seemed eager to help out and explain what was going on. Maybe they were all just as clueless as we were. There were never any actual lines formed, just mobs. And each person seemed to think they were standing in line for a different event. I myself, with a bunch of other people, waited in line for almost an hour to see the Stan Lee panel only to be told it was full at the last minute.
I actually left way before the mob for The Fault in Our Stars panel started to form. I would have loved to see that but once I got a feel for how BookCon was, I didn’t even bother trying to attempt it. And judging by the many, many pictures and complaints I saw on social media, I’m glad that I didn’t stay. Whoever thought it was a good idea to not ticket this event from the very beginning is an idiot! I don’t want to be mean but it’s the truth. A signing for Cassandra Clare was ticketed but a panel with John Green talking about TFIOS and the film wasn’t? Where is the logic in that?
A lot has been said about the problems with diversity in BookCon and I wholeheartedly agree with everything. I feel as though you guys browsed through Tumblr, took the most discussed books, contacted only those authors, and called it a day. Now hear me out. I love my Young Adult. The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, The Hunger Games. I’ve read it all and enjoyed them all. Well most of them anyway. Definitely have those authors there because they will naturally draw a big crowd and a lot of attention. However, they should not be the only things offered!
You guys really dropped the ball on this one for so many reasons. Don’t pretend you were catering to readers. You weren’t. You were catering to the Tumblr, fangirl crowd. And you were also assuming that this crowd is close-minded and not open to new genres of literature. There is so much more to books than white authors who write about dystopia or teen angst! Please, showcase more of these authors next year! Both to draw in more book lovers and to expose young readers to other types of books. That’s what BookCon should be about.
While it was a wonderful concept, the execution could have been a lot better. For next year, I say hire a more respectful, organized staff, make use of the GIANT venue your event is being held in, and showcase authors from all genres. If you can do that, that I’ll be happy to attend your event next year, and plenty of years after that.
A Slightly Dissatisfied BookCon Attendee
*For those you who may not have heard of BookCon before, you can find out about the event here.