What you need to know about BookExpo & Bookcon.

Post by: Jess Ryno

BookExpo/ BEA (Prep for)

  1. What is it?
  2. Tickets
  3. Reader & Avid Reader passes
  4. Planning out your convention
  5. Signing Tickets
  6. Picking up Badges & Tickets

Bookcon (Prep for)

  1. What is it?
  2. Tickets
  3. VIP passes
  4. Planning out your convention
  5. Getting Badges
  6. Signing Tickets

What to Bring

You have arrived

  1. Bookexpo/BEA
  2. Bookcon
  3. Tips for lining up for panels and signings Bookcon
  4. Things to remember throughout the day: Bookexpo & Bookcon
  5. Rules to keep in mind: Bookexpo and Bookcon

BookExpo/BEA (Prep for)

1- BookExpo /BEA It is a convention for people in the book industry. Teachers, librarians, people who own bookstores or buy for bookstores, agents, authors, publishers, book bloggers and book reviewers. (BookCon is for fans/ general public.)

2- Tickets for the event usually go on sale the end of Nov. The price varies depending on what category you fit in. A three day pass runs from $150-$250 (if you pre-order) If you wait and get them on sight the price goes up to $225-$400 for the three day pass. The single day passes are $100-$200 pre-order and $150-$300 on-sight. (Based off 2018 prices)

Now I have said three day pass several times but there is not much going on on the first day, just a few panels. The show floor is not open on the first day. I normally just swing by on the first day to pick up my badge so I don’t have to wait in line the next morning.

3- Reader and Avid Reader passes- These passes can be purchased in addition to your convention ticket. They include guaranteed signing tickets that you can reserve before the event. Avid Reader passes even include a front of the line/skip the line pass. The number of tickets changes from year to year, 2018 the Avid Reader pass got 12 tickets. (6 per day)

4- Signing Tickets- If you purchase the Reader pass or Avid Reader pass you will receive an email mid May (once the schedule is set) to pick your signing tickets. There will be details posted about what the author is signing. It can be anything from a book or ARC to a chapter sampler or a poster. They will generally sign books you brought from home too but I believe they ask for a donation to some fund IF you don’t have a Reader or Avid Reader pass. I have always had a pass and I couldn’t find any info on it on the website about it for this years show. Sorry, they have been kind of slow about getting the information out this year. But in the past I believe is was a $1 a book. Not a big fee but you have to have a pocket full of ones, so I thought I would mention it.

There is also an opportunity to get signing tickets at the convention but I will talk about that later.

5- Planning out your convention. Once the schedule is set(mid May) the app will go live. This is when you sit down and spend hours making lists and spreadsheets of all of the signings, events and panels you want to go to.

Because BookExpo is limited to industry professionals it is not nearly as crowded or as insane as Bookcon. There will be lines but nothing extreme. If it’s on your list you should be able to do it, as long as you manage your time correctly. Thus the need for the schedule and/or spreadsheet. You’re more likely to miss an event because there are too many thing you want to do in one time slot, than miss out because you couldn’t get in or a line got cut off. But do put all those things on your list because if something doesn’t take as long as you thought you could still rush over to do something else.

6- Badges & Tickets- For Bookexpo/BEA you pick up your badges and signing tickets at the event. So no need to keep and eye on the mail or print anything out.

Bookcon (Prep for)

1- Bookcon is a convention held the weekend after Bookexpo/BEA and this event is for the fans.

2- Tickets for the event usually go on sale the end of Nov. Ticket prices run from $30- $45 per day. Kids tickets are $10. (Based off 2018 prices)

3- VIP passes are available…. Well they are offered but they’re really hard to get and sell out almost instantly. VIPs have their own entrance, lounge with free bag check and book signing. They get first dibs on signing tickets. VIPs also have their own line to main stage panels.

4- Planning out your convention– Once the schedule is set(mid May) the app will go live. This is when you sit down and spend hours making lists and spreadsheets of all of the signings, events and panels you want to do.

This event is open to the general public and the crown gets a bit crazy. There will be lines for everything. You most likely will not be able to do all the things on your list. So be sure to put everything you want to do on your list and have some way to indicate what take priority. That way if something doesn’t work out, the line gets cut off or the panel fills up, the you have a back up plan.

5- Badges- Bookcon mails out the tickets. Mid May you will receive a plastic badge in the mail. You will need to activate it. You can put it on your own fun lanyard or snag a free one when you get there.

6- Signing Tickets- Another thing you need to keep an eye on is when the signing tickets become available. Bookcon will announce a date and time that the singing ticket link will go live and you better be ready. They go fast! This year (2018) the VIPs are going to get first dibs. I think their link goes live the day before the general public.

For Bookcon you get to pick 2 signing tickets per day. However, that is no guarantee, you still have to be there at the right time and get in line. And every author has their own rules for the signing. (they are posted on the website) Usually a book purchase is required. Sometimes they even specify which book you have to buy. It will also say how many books the author will sign total. So you can usually bring a book or two from home but not always. Posed photos are generally not allowed. You or a friend can snap a few pics while the author is singing but that’s all. There isn’t much time to chat. With the the crazy long line, they have to keep things moving. Oh and these rules are subject to change. If things are taking too long they might cut back how many books you can get signed, so they can get everyone though the line.

Don’t forget to print and pack your signing tickets!!!

What to Bring (BEA & Bookcon)

extra suitcase To bring home all your books and free stuff

Snacks and food Snacks for in the convention and food for the week. I buy my snacks and food at home and pack them in my extra suitcase. Everything is expensive in NY and it’s one less thing I have to do when I get there. For the convention I pack things like: granola/protein bars, peanut butter crackers, small packs of trail mix or peanuts. There is a food court at the convention but it is expensive and the lines get long.

Water bottle I would put some water in my bottle freeze it overnight and then fill the rest in the morning. My backpack has a pocket on the outside for a water bottle, so I don’t have to worry about anything getting wet. But this year I am taking an insulated water bottle. One of those magic ones were the ice last all day.

Backpack Mine will have: headache meds, phone cord/charger, extra battery for phone (this is a must!!), pen & small notebook, band-aids, small umbrella (if it’s going to rain), light jacket (also a must. They have like super charged AC in the convention center), earbuds and ipod/phone (for subway ride), and wallet (Make sure you have some cash to check your bag. I think it was $3 last year.)

Rolling bag To put in coat check. It should not be too big. I would go with carry on sized. Yes, it would be nice to have a giant suitcase for all your books and stuff but remember you have to lug the sucker to and from the convention each day on the subway or taxi or however you are getting around. You need something manageable.

Books you want to get signed This you have to be careful with. You don’t want to bring too many because it takes up room for free books (Bookexpo) and you have to lug them around. Yes, you will have a bag in the coat check but really you only make it out to that bag once, maybe twice a day, when you just can’t carry everything anymore. My first time I ended up with bruises on the tops of my shoulders from carrying everything.

Badge and signing tickets For BEA you will get your badge and signing tickets when you get there. You go to a booth and check in and they will print everything out for you. Bookcon you will need the badge they sent you in the mail (bring a fun lanyard, I have a Ravenclaw one or you can get a free one there) and you will need to print out your signing tickets and bring them with you each day.

Comfortable shoes!!! I cannot stress this enough. You will be on your feet hiking from one end of the convention center to the other and back again. You will be lugging a full backpack and 1-10 tote bags at any given time.

-Comfortable clothing At some point I guarantee you will be sitting on the floor. Dress appropriately. That’s all I’m say’n.


You have arrived

Ok, so you purchased your tickets, you packed everything you need and you have arrived in New York.

1-BookExpo- You will need to check in and pick up your badge when you arrive. If you purchased a Reader or Avid Reader pass they will also print out all of your signing tickets. Everything fits in this handy plastic pouch on a special lanyard.(no need to bring your own, it won’t work with the pouch.

Once again there is not much going on on the first day (Wednesday) but I still swing by the event center and pick up my badge so I don’t have to wait in line the next day. I will also pick a map of the show floor and program. If this is your first time at the event center it would be a good idea to wander around and see where everything is. Note where the entrances are. Locate the bag check, food court and where the panels will be. That way in the morning you will know exactly where you’re going.

If you did not purchase a Reader or Avid Reader pass you can still get signing tickets. Thursday and Friday if you arrive early there will be a separate line for whatever signing tickets are left over. I believe you have to have your badge first. (another reason to get it on Wednesday if you can)

Last year the show opened at 9:00. They gave out the free tickets at 8:00. I had the avid readers pass and I used that to get the big name people but there were still a few more I wanted so I got there around 7:00. There was already a ton of people in line but I still snagged a few tickets.

Okay, so now you have your badge, you got your signing tickets, and you have dropped your rolling bag at the coat check. I would hit the bathroom one last time and then get in line for the show floor. If you have a line buddy then you can flip those last two things. Snag a spot in line and then take turns going to the bathroom or getting coffee or whatever.

Very important- I know it will be hard but try to remember to pace yourself! At Bookexpo you will literally have people shoving free books into your hands. I know this sounds like heaven but you have to carry all those books, you have to lug them all back to where ever you’re staying and you have to get them all home. Be selective. Make sure the book is something you would be interested in before taking it. Ask about it. Read the back cover. It is okay to say “No thanks it’s not for me.” My first time at Bookexpo/BEA I was there for 10 mins and had a tote bag full of books. That night I had bruises on the tops of my shoulders from carrying everything.

2- Bookcon- You already have your badge so no need to worry about that. But there are other things to worry about.

So here you have to make some choices. You can 1) go downstairs and get in the ginormous line to get onto the show floor. Or 2) go “tap” your badge for one of the main stage panels. *sigh* The first year I went you had to line up super early to get wristbands for signings and big panels. Last year they changed things up a bit. The signing tickets were done on-line and that seems to be working well. for the panels last year they told us we would have to “tap” our badges to reserve a spot in the main stage panel room.  Translation… you had to do stand in a line first thing in the morning for whatever panel you wanted a reservation for and they would scan you badge and you were magically reserved a seat…if you were there on time and they didn’t run out of seats….??? But bottom line none of that mattered. I went down stairs to “tap” my badge and there was no one waiting. They still made me walk through the super long line they’d set up, but whatever. When the time came and I rushed over to get in line for the main stage panel but again there was no line. The main stage room is huge and I had no problem getting a seat.

So I’m not sure what to tell you here. I’m not totally sure what Bookcon’s plan is for the main stage panels this year. (again they have been slow to get info out this year) but even if I did know what the procedure was going to be I’m not sure it’s worth it. I clearly didn’t need to “tap” my badge last year. So it’s on you. If there is a panel that you just cannot miss and you think it might fill up then you might want to walk over and reserve a spot or you will just have to live on the wild-side and risk it.

UPDATE: Bookcon has announced that there will be no badge tapping or wristbands for panels. And they will not be clearing the rooms after panels.

3- TIPS for lining up for panels and signings: Bookcon

-If there is a panel you absolutely have to see sometimes you can get into the room during the panel before the one you want to see and just stay in there. However, sometimes that doesn’t work because they clear the room between panels. Before you waste time ask a staff member what the plan is for that panel.

-If you want to go to a panel but you can not get into the room before hand (the room is already full) you had better plan on lining up at least an hour before.

-The signings are more structured. They have a set time you can start lining up for them. It also might not be in the same area. Last year they lined people up at the very end of the autographing area and when it was time walked the line down to the author. So ask a staff member. You might walk by and not see anyone lined up yet and think Oh I will come back in a little bit. No ask someone. There might be a huge line already, just somewhere else.

-As far as the in-booth stuff they are strict about the where and when you can start a line for something. If you are in an unofficial line you are more than likely wasting your time. Ask someone… a staff member. People are generally friendly and happy to help but they don’t always know. When in doubt double check with a staff member. They are there to help.

4- Things to remember throughout the day: Bookexpo & Bookcon

-All of the big booths will have a schedule of in-booth signings and book or swag giveaways. So be sure to swing by and pick up a flyer or snap a pic of their posted schedule. Many of the smaller booths will have set times for things as well.

– Make sure you explore all of the show floor. You never know what neat thing you will find tucked away in a back corner.

– You will also want to keep an eye on Twitter and other social media for secret or surprise giveaways. One year Litographs posted on twitter to come by and ask for a ticket to their Sarah Maas signing. And another year Fierce Reads posted, if you came to their booth and whispered the name of your favorite queen from Three Dark Crowns you got a free ACR of the sequel.

– People are generally friendly and happy to help but they don’t always know. When in doubt double check with a staff member. They are there to help. (I know I said this twice…what does that tell you)

-Don’t forget you have a rolling bag in the coat check. You can go dump all you goodies there so you don’t have to carry everything the whole time. But I would keep any books you still need to get signed in your backpack. You don’t want to miss a signing because you were running back to get your books from the coat check and there was a line.

5- Rules to keep in mind: Bookexpo and Bookcon

-No rolling bags are allowed on the show floor. Your rolling bag must be checked at coat check.

-They are strict about the where and when you can start a line for something. (this is more of a Bookcon issue) If you are in an unofficial line you are more than likely wasting your time. (I know I said this twice as well…what does that tell you) Best thing to do is to keep moving. Walk laps around the booth if you have too. But do not get suckered into an unofficial line. On that same note don’t let anyone harass you into an unofficial line. I don;t care if they have been waiting for two hours, if they booth’s staff tells you there isn’t an official line you do not have to join. When in doubt double check with a staff member. (and there it is a third time)

Here’s a link to my recap from last year’s convention. Definitely check it out.

BookExpo & Bookcon 2017 recap

Follow the rules. Be nice. And enjoy yourself.

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