In 2013, the last day of BEA was also Power Reader day. Avid readers were able to gain access to the Javits Center and partake in the joy of autograph signings and visiting booths. It seemed to me, that the tickets were limited and only accessible by people who were immersed in the reading culture. There were mixed feelings about their appearance and a mixed bag of stories about their behavior. Sound familiar?
This year, 2014, Saturday was Book Con. Attendees of Book Con could go to the autograph lines and a designated area of the show floor. Also included were various panels that showcased popular authors such as Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and John Green. The lines and crowds were comparable to NY Comic Con (which ironically I stopped attending several years ago due to the crowds and lack of organization). It was difficult to navigate on the Book Con side of the show floor amidst the strollers, large backpacks hitting me in the face and elbows in my side. I chose not to brave the crowds to go into the autograph area. My 5'2" friend was jostled and pushed so much on one line, her husband told her to find safety while he took her place. Several Book Con attendees wanted to know how I managed to get a BEA badge that let me in for the entire show. Many were incredulous that "...all you had to do was have a blog." Their words, not mine. I have to tell you, I felt a bit insulted.
|Security was busy at Book Con.|
Did I hate it? Yes. Was I unhappy? Yes. But I always try to play devil's advocate and wonder if I'm being unfair. Is the way that the bloggers and other BEA attendees felt about Book Con an echo of how industry insiders felt about us in years past? Is this just yet another change with the conference dynamics? Do we just have to realize that Book Con is a separate entity and adjust accordingly? Do we have to wait several years before Book Con attendees are integrated into the landscape of BEA like bloggers eventually became an accepted population?
The thing is, I feel as Bloggers, most of us were aware that we were attending a professional event. We policed ourselves and wrote posts expressing unhappiness with bad blogger behavior and gave professional advice on etiquette as well as tips on attending an overwhelming trade show and travelling to and within NYC.
|Autographing area at Book Con. I did not venture in.|
I am pretty sure that 2015 is the last year that BEA will be in NY and I don't know what will happen when the show relocates. Maybe bloggers and other industry insiders who weren't feeling Book Con will be able to prepare themselves better. I've already heard a number of people say they will not come on Book Con days.
Whatever anyone decides to do, Book Con was obviously a success (for the organizers of the event). I think that many people in the book blogging community, myself included, hope that the organizers of BEA will listen to feedback on both sides and work accordingly to bring harmony to the event.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Maybe I'm not thinking of something that you are. I would love to hear your point of view.