Monday, June 13, 2016

BookCon 2016 Recap

Hi friends! On May 14th Jen and I drove from St. Louis to Chicago to attend maybe the best bookish event, BookCon. BookCon is a convention for book lovers of all ages and literally has something for everyone. Comics, YA, adult, romance, childrens lit, author signings, panels from some of your favorite authors, and more tote bags than you will know what to do with. This was our first time attending BookCon or anything like it, so we will share our experience and any tips that we felt helped us while we were there. 

The show floor was where it was at. This was where all the booths were set up and most places were all too eager to push some ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) into your hands or totes bags. The first thing we did when we got into BookCon was to go to the left and get in line at Scholastic (we just saw a bunch of people waiting in line and thought it might be a good idea). Behind us was this amazing Harry Potter wall. Scholastic gave us probably 10 ARCs each, but there were plenty more that we didn't grab because we weren't sure if they were our reading style. Some people are all about getting as many free books as they can carry, but to us it was more like this was a bonus and we tried to only grab what we knew we would probably be interested in. We both did end up buying a few things, but I think I spent $25 and Jen didn't spend much more than I did. There were so many places set up to let you purchase things at steep discounts that there is no way you  could walk away with nothing. 

We attended 1.5 panels. One that I was really interested in was a discussion with Ann M. Martin, author of The Babysitter's Club series that I was obsessed with as a child. She was being interviewed by David Leviathan, and talking with Raina Telgemeier, who helped turn the books into graphic novels. It should have been a panel full of nostalgia and good vibes, but unfortunately this panel was located on the right of the show floor so it was very hard to hear with everything else going on around it. It was not well placed at all and I definitely left feedback on this part because I was really disappointed I didn't get to hear this panel. 

The other panel we attended was one called Friendship is Magic with authors Sarah J. Maas, Sarah Dennard, Victoria Aveyard, and Alexandra Braken (all authors we have read for book club!). This panel was so fun! It was a bunch of cool ladies talking feminism in YA literature and the importance of friendship over romantic relationships and the different challenges in writing those. It also had some cool discussions on female role models from when they were younger (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and it was really fun hearing some authors I really admire get nerdy about the fandoms they love. The only downside to this panel for me was the Q&A portion when a girl asked Sarah J. Maas something spoilery from a book that was released a week ago that I didn't get to read yet. I missed most of it and Sarah was a boss who answered it without letting any spoilers slip out, but damn, not cool random girl at the panel.

Maybe one of the best parts of BookCon was getting to meet Maggie Steifvarter, author of one of our favorite series The Raven Cycle (featured on the blog here). How author signings go is you wait in line for a wristband in the morning and once it's time for that author to do their signing, show your wristband and wait in line. They started handing out wristbands at 8am, but there were people in line starting at 4am, which is crazy. We didn't get to BookCon until 10am so we completely missed the wristband portion and were ok with not getting to meet any of our favorite authors. We made peace with this. However when we were waiting in line for the Owlcrate booth, I noticed that there was no line for Maggie. I had Jen go ask the lady at the entrance to her signing if we could get in without wirstbands and she let us. She is the unsung hero of BookCon. We bought books (literally my third time buying The Raven King) and got to chat for a second with our favorite. I saw on the BookCon app that some other people were able to do similar things as we did and other convention goers got pretty upset. I think we were in the right place at the right time and the book community wants to help each other so when there was no line,  we were lucky and in the right spot to get in. I totally support the wristband system and I think if we tried to worm our way in to a full line while people with wristbands got turned away that would be one thing. I'm just really grateful that we got the chance to meet someone we admire so much.  

There were also plenty of in booth signings. We passed on Sarah Dennard, but did get to randomly meet  at an in booth signing which was so cool. She was really nice and genuinely interested in chatting about real things, not just "How is your day going?"  We got to meet some other lesser known authors, which was so cool. 

At the end of the day, we walked away with so much stuff it was kind of insane. We literally went in with no expectations on how our day would go and were blown away by how amazing the experience was. I got a lot of stuff for Emily and Morgan too and it was really fun to come home and kind of share that with them in the form of books. I'm turning them into tiny book lovers and I'm not sorry. 

Heather's BookCon haul 

Jen's BookCon haul

Final Tips and Tricks for BookCon
-Be wary of spoilers! 
-Don't be afraid to make new friends and ask for Instagram handles to keep in touch
-You will get more tote bags than you could ever dream of
-Your shoulders might hurt for a week straight after because carrying over 30 books all day long is a killer
-It's a balancing act. If you want to do a lot of author signings, you will miss out on more ARCs on the floor. 
-At the end of the day, everyone is trying to get rid of their stock and willing to sell it even more deeply discounted than it already was
-Panels are awesome so pick 1-3 you really want to see. Getting to hear your favorite authors chat is a must
-Mid day caffeine stops are a must
-Comfortable shoes are non-negotiable
-Have a flexible plan and don't stress too much when it doesn't always go as planned. 


Were you in Chicago and want to chat about all things BookCon? Planning to go to BookCon in 2017? Have even more tips that we need to consider before next year? Let us know! 

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