As many of you know, I went to BookCon in New York last week. I had been the previous year, and was excited to be back for the two day event.
For the most part I had a great time, was fortunate enough to get most of the books on my list, and able to talk to other book lovers like myself. By the end of Sunday, I could barely walk out of the convention, because of everything I packed into those two days.
Other than my broken body being unable to keep up, sadly there was another black mark on the experience. Bear with me, this is a long story, but an important one. I do so with the purpose of letting others know who might be considering going next year, and not to just shit on a publisher, so I’ll leave their name out of it (though I’m pretty sure those present know who I’m talking about).
First off, I want to state that I’m thankful that this publisher had so many amazing ARCs and giveaways available, which ended up being both a blessing and a curse for them this year. Like this year, last year this publisher had a big spot, but they were off to the side, not smack in the middle like this year. I think that was probably the first mistake.
Due to their popularity and location, this ‘booth’ was always crowded, but for the most part handled. That was until a VERY popular ARC was being dropped on Saturday, and then things went from crowded to crazy, to the point where I was worried.
The prior year, I remember the same publisher handling big crowds, but I never felt worried. I feel like the key lies in the fact that the previous year, when I arrived an hour early to a signing at their booth, the volunteers would make an ‘unofficial’ line until they were given the okay to make an ‘official’ line. Technically they didn’t make a line until half an hour before the signing/giveaway, but some of them were too popular and it would have just caused chaos
And folks, that’s what happened this year.
For some reason this publisher was adamant about not starting a line until 30 minutes prior the signing. I don’t know why the hard stop this year, but the crowds got crazy. And since they were now in the middle of the room, major pathways were being blocked, so things… got ugly.
Security came and started to break up crowds, but nothing was more upsetting than how some of the publisher’s workers started treating people. I don’t care what’s going on, it’s never okay to threaten teenage girls and tell them you’re going to kick them out of BookCon.
Instead of handling the situation, I just heard a lot of yelling, and one person in particular got really nasty. I’m not at fault because you only have 200 tickets for this signing, and there’s already double that amount waiting for the line to start.
And I want to state that I’m not upset at all with the workers/volunteers who were kind under the pressure. I saw the same concern for safety and order reflected in their eyes. I know many were just really overwhelmed, and honestly it was really just one person that really pushed me over the edge. I just think that so much could have been handled better. I really hope this publisher figures out more efficient ways to handle the crowds.
I was nearby their area on Sunday, when they had two or three major signings/giveaways happening close together. And again, it was a hot mess. So many people left disappointed.
It is one thing to walk up to a line and be told it’s closed, because that’s on me for not getting there quicker. It is another thing to get there an hour prior and see people who got there just a couple of minutes ago get a ticket before you. That is just poor planning, and I saw it happen a lot that weekend.
So with that, I don’t think I’ll be going back to BookCon. At least not for some time. There’s a couple of other events I want to try out.
I know that many will think, ‘well, you got free books, so you should just shut your trap.’ But this wasn’t free. I paid for tickets; to the event, for my train, and for my hotel. This was actually really expensive. I do it because I love books and I love my blog. With this and NetGalley I want to remain up to date. But I don’t want to go to an event where I ask simple questions, like ‘where’s the line going to start?’ and get snapped at by one person, and then get different answers from another.
I shouldn’t have to overhear two teens come up to their mom distraught, because they were just trying to figure out what was going on with a popular signing, and then got threatened to be kicked out.
I wish this was a happier post, because like I said, I actually had a good time despite the chaos with this one publisher. I didn’t even know if I wanted to talk about this. But I know how much money goes into attending BookCon for those not in New York City.
Because after talking to those girls, I got really upset, and it solidified my choice to go in a new direction next year.