This weekend, I took the train from DC to NYC to attend something called BookCon. It was quite a ride, let me tell you (the con, not the train. The train was as expected).

This was my first BookCon. A friend was already going, so I figured, hell, why not. We could split a room, I could get a weekend in the city, and I could find some new authors. Wins all around!

I honestly didn’t know what to expect, even with my friend having been there the year before. Most of my conferences are technical conferences where you go from talk to talk or spend a few days in the hallway track, networking and talking to your conference friends.

BookCon, though? There are talks, but the main focus appears to be on getting books. All the books. Nearly every booth is giving away ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) for free or selling books for cheap. Giveaways happen on some magical schedule that I could never quite sort out, so there are always huge lines of people queuing up for something or other.

The first day, I hit up lines, basically following my friend around until my back threatened to give out because my backpack was full of books. Thankfully, she warned me to always check what they were giving away, since it wasn’t uncommon for a booth to just be giving away stickers or first chapters or whatnot.

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The second day, I was a bit more choosy because I was already worried about getting these books home even though I’d packed an empty duffle bag. I also managed to get to a few talks, one of which was an interview with Joseph Fink (Welcome to Nightvale, Alice isn’t Dead).

I ended up with about 30 books, which pales to my friend’s SEVENTY. A good chunk were middle grade, so my daughter has some interesting new stuff to read.

Some thoughts:

  • Holy crap my back hurt. I should have taken more breaks (or a portable stool for when lines were happening)
  • The panels were rarely filled, and I kind of wish I’d gone to more of them.
  • If you like YA, you will lose your damn mind at this conference. So much YA.
  • Good news: You are surrounded by fellow book lovers.
  • Bad news: Book lovers are fucking oblivious to the world around them. This is a problem when dealing with crowds.
  • Best strategy for book quantity: If you see a line, get in it. Also, be there when booths start to break down.
  • Best strategy for book quality: If you see a book you’re interested in, ask if and when they’re giving away an ARC or doing an inexpensive signing.
  • Lesser known authors are SO grateful when you get in their line and get a book. Seriously.
  • Fuck Penguin and their “We’re selling these at the cover price.” Even Books-A-Million doesn’t do that.

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I will most likely go again next year. The tickets weren’t expensive, the train was lovely (business class is so very worth it), and I got a bunch of books that’ll allow me to dip into genres / authors I don’t normally read.

Has anyone else been to BookCon?