As I mentioned in my last post, a couple weeks ago, my friend Anne and I hopped a bus to NYC and got to attend BookCon 2015! It was my first time attending a book conference, so I was super excited to check out all of the cool panels, author talks, and events, and then share everything with all of you!
Here’s a quick overview of BookCon, from the website:
Taking place in the publishing and cultural capital of the world, BookCon is the event where storytelling and pop culture collide. BookCon is an immersive experience that features interactive, forward thinking content such as:
- Panels and Q&As with the hottest authors, celebrities and content creators
- A Show Floor with the most influential publishers in the world
- Autographing sessions
- Literary quiz shows
BookCon is the ultimate celebration of books, where your favorite stories come to life.
BookCon was held at the Javits Center and spanned two days: May 30th & May 31st. We decided to just go for Saturday, but they did have 2-day passes available as well. A couple weeks before the conference, we received our badges, which served as our entry ticket into BookCon.
The conference started at 10am on Saturday, but when we got off of our bus at 9:30am, the doors were already open. So we headed inside, where we were presented with a BookBub lanyard for our badges and a cute canvas tote bag courtesy of Harper Collins.
Initial Thoughts: The Javits Center is HUGE! There are A TON of tweens & teens here (I think I assumed it would be an older crowd). There doesn’t seem to anyone checking badges to make sure we actually had a ticket.
As soon as we got inside, we had to line up to get wristbands for the various panels offered throughout the day. I’m going to do a quick little rant on the whole panel wristband process because it was literally chaos and could have been planned so much better. So basically, there were 5 panels scheduled throughout Saturday:
- Mindy Kaling in conversation with BJ Novak to discuss her upcoming book Why Not Me?
- The film panel for the movie adaptation of Emma Donaghue’s Room
- Nick Offerman’s Gumption Revival, with guests Paul Rudd & John Hodgman
- Aziz Ansari for his upcoming book Modern Romance
- The film panel for the moving adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns
Seating in each panel was limited, and there was no way to reserve a spot ahead of time. So, there were 5 different lines in this huge room, and you had to go stand in each line to get a wristband. You couldn’t stand in line and get all 5 at once…you had to stand in 5 different lines one after another. Once you got to the front of the line, everyone went crazy and it was sheer chaos to try to get a wristband. People were pushing and shoving. It was insane. We were lucky in that we were able to get through the lines fairly quickly and score a wristband for each panel. But, we ended up spending a good hour & a half just waiting in the different lines. It seemed to me that it would have been a much better use of time to just allow attendees to reserve panel spots online through the ticketing process. So once we stood in line forever and barely escaped a teenage stampede to get our wristbands, we were told to arrive at least 30 minutes before the panel time, so that we could wait in line again to actually get into the Panel event space. Not a great experience. Hope you’re taking notes for next year, BookCon.
Once we realized how much time would be eaten up by the panels, we realized that we wouldn’t have any time to check out the Show Floor if we went to all of the panels. So we decided to forego the Room panel and structured our day like this:
9:30am: Arrived at Javits Center
9:30am – 11am: Waiting in line
11am – Noon: Mindy Kaling panel
Noon – 2pm: Show Floor & lunch
2pm – 2:30pm: Waiting in line
2:30pm – 3:30pm: Nick Offerman panel
3:30pm – 4:15pm: Waiting in line
4:15pm – 5:15pm: Aziz Ansari panel
5:15pm – 6pm: Waiting in line
6pm – 7pm: Paper Towns panel
We literally spend 3.25 hours waiting in line. UGH. Okay, I’m done ranting…time to actually talk about all of the cool stuff I did
Mindy Kaling Panel
This was a great panel/Q&A session! BJ Novak peppered Mindy with questions (he started with “HOW DARE YOU?” lol), and they talked about her last book, her new book, her writing process, The Mindy Project, and lots more. They have such an interesting banter, so it was very cool to experience their rapport first hand. Mindy also brought some cool swag – we all got a little booklet with a chapter excerpt from Why Not Me? and an adorable little Mindy pin.
The Show Floor was pretty cool. There were a ton of publishers (big and small) there and some of them were giving away advance reader copies of various titles. If a publisher wasn’t offering free books, they usually did some titles for purchase at a substantial discount. Here are the books I picked up from the Show Floor:
- The Kashmir Shawl – Rosie Thomas
- The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
- A.D. 30 – Ted Dekker
- Hammerhead – Nina MacLaughlin
- Dragonfish – Vu Tran
- The Story of My Tits – Jennifer Hayden
The best find, by far, was The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This is the second book in the Queen of the Tearling series, and actually came out today. Anne found a small booth in the back that was offering the advance copy of The Invasion of the Tearling for $25 (plus they threw in a copy of The Queen of the Tearling and a tote bag for free – score!). I had been counting down the days until The Invasion of the Tearling came out, so to be able to grab an early copy 10 days before it hit bookstores was AMAZING!
Nick Offerman Panel
I seriously love Nick Offerman. If you’re not familiar with who he is, shame on you. He played Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation and he is literally a modern-day Renaissance man. Do yourself a favor and go pick up his first book, Paddle Your Own Canoe, so that you can enjoy the awesomeness that is Nick Offerman. Anyways, Nick was at BookCon to promote his new book, Gumption, which is a collection of tid-bits on 21 of his favorite Americans throughout history. Nick started the panel by playing us a song that he wrote for his wife Megan Mullally. Then, John Hodgman and Paul Rudd came on stage to interview Nick about Gumption. Finally, the panel ended with an audience Q&A session and then another song, performed this time by John Hodgman. This was probably my favorite panel. Nick is so hilarious and adorable, but it was so much fun to see Nick, John & Paul all interact together on stage. They all seemed to be really good friends and joked around with each other a lot.
Aziz Ansari Panel
Another Parks & Recreation alum, Aziz Ansari was at BookCon to promote his upcoming book, Modern Romance. The books is about how dating and relationships have drastically changed due to online dating and the prevalence of cell phones in our lives. Aziz worked with a sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, to conduct focus groups and research a variety of topics for the book. The panel consisted of Aziz and Eric being interviewed by Daniel Jones, the editor of the NY Times column Modern Love. Aziz and Eric did a great job explaining the detailed research they conducted, while weaving in humor and tales from Aziz’s last comedy tour. The panel ended with an audience Q&A session. It definitely piqued my interest in Modern Romance, and I think I’ll grab it on Audible when it comes out.
Paper Towns Panel
The Paper Towns film panel was the last panel of the day, and probably the most anticipated. The author, John Green (he also wrote a little book called The Fault in Our Stars), discussed the film adaptation of Paper Towns with the film crew, including cast members Nat Wolff and Justice Smith. Full disclosure, this wasn’t my favorite panel. First of all, I have not yet read Paper Towns, but I absolutely loved The Fault in Our Stars, so I was interested in going to this panel mainly for John Green. I think this panel was more targeted towards those who’ve read and loved Paper Towns, as well as those who are die-hard John Green fans. It was interesting to hear about the cast and crews’ take on the book and the film, but ultimately I didn’t get a lot of the references since I haven’t read the book. We were shown an exclusive trailer as well as a couple scenes from the film, so that was pretty cool. I will say, though, that seeing the panel made me want to read the book before the movie comes out.
Overall Thoughts: I really liked BookCon! It wasn’t as well organized as I would have liked, and it ended up being a really, really long day, but I still had a blast. I got to learn about a ton of new and interesting books, and it was cool to be at an event celebrating my favorite pastime – reading! Hopefully I’ll get to keep going to these types of events in the future.
Next Up: My book review of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Check back soon!