About BookCon - An Event for Book Fans

A Celebration for Book Lovers

Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak
Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak are featured at the 2015 BookCon. Mark Sullivan / Getty Images Entertainment

BookCon is a fan (that is, consumer) convention described in the words of its organizers as a celebration of books, "the event where storytelling and pop culture collide."

Where and When Is BookCon?

BookCon takes place in parallel to the book publishing trade-only BookExpo America event, in the same location, though the events are kept separate. (Publishers and others who have BEA booths can opt to take a small satellite location in the consumer hall.)

The Genesis of BookCon

BookCon is the latest of a line of consumer literary events that have taken place in New York City.

For a number of years from 1979 to 2009, Manhattan was host to an annual event titled New York is Book Country, which featured publishers and booksellers hosting consumer-based events such as readings, author signings. Fifth Avenue was closed for the day. Today, the Brooklyn Book Fair somewhat takes up the festival slack.

However, BookCon is unique in that it piggybacks an industry tradeshow that already attracts luminaries and publishing pros to help promote books to booksellers.

Spurred by industry trends and driven by a desire to interact with readers more directly to increase engagement and book sales, BookExpo America experimented with opening its doors to consumers for one day of the show in 2013 — after all, the publishers are already on site for the industry show.

Consumer Day drew about 2,000 people and was not regarded as a wild success.

In 2014, the event was rebranded BookCon to echo the wildly successful fan-fest ComicCon (and it also harkens to the long-lived, more publishing focused, mystery book convention, Bouchercon).

What Happens at BookCon?

BookCon features immersive elements to help readers more deeply engage with the story content and creators.

One of the big draws is appearances by authors and other "content creators," as well as publishers and celebrities such as the actors who portray the readers' favorites on screen.

For example author / celebrity guests at the inaugural BookCon ranged from bestselling authors such as John Grisham, Ruth Reichl, Kathy Reichs, David Mitchell, Ann M. Martin, Carl Hiaasen, Grumpy Cat, Jeff Kinney, Jodi Picoult, R. L. Stine, Stan Lee, James Patterson, and John Green to celebrities such at Mario Batali, Tina Fey, Jason Segel, Amy Poehler, Cary Elwes and Martin Short.

Events include:

  • Autographing sessions
  • Book giveaways
  • Special screenings
  • Panel discussions and Question & Answer sessions
  • A literary quiz show
  • Storytelling podcasts

Consumer Attendee Rules for BookCon

As in any event where luminaries and publishing pros mingle with lay fans, there are some caveats and ground rules:

  • Author signings & bringing your own books - While there will be free editions of selected books given out, fans may also bring their own copies of books if they know a favorite author is signing. However, authors (or other celebrities) may refuse to sign anything they deem inappropriate, such as…
  • Bootlegs - Unauthorized copies of books or other material are not permitted at BookCon —they do the author, creative teams and the publisher a great disservice because those are the people investing in the work and bootlegs pay no royalties to them. The BookCon people feel so strongly about this the buying and selling of counterfeit / knock-off / unlicensed materials will result in only one warning. Anyone who violates this rule a second time will be removed from the show.
  • Solicitation… of manuscripts - Many book fans are also wannabe authors. To ensure a comfortable experience for the publishing pros who are in attendance, shopping manuscripts or soliciting manuscripts for publication is strictly prohibited and will result in removal from the show.
  • Carts or other wheeled devices - While readers might feel the need for something to help them carry their literary loot, for safety reasons, carts, empty strollers and wheeled luggage are prohibited on the show floor. The organizers suggest a (non-wheeled) backpack.