Book Expo & Book Con: What You Need to Know Guide

The time has come for one of my most highly requested posts here on Fangirl Fury: my Book Expo & Book Con Guidebook. I considered creating this post right after I attended Book Expo and Book Con 2018, but I decided to wait until closer to ticket dates. Book Con tickets will be going on sale this Monday, November 19th.

Before jumping into everything you need to know, I am here to say that I am not the absolute expert of the best bookish weekend-I’ll even say below when I am not 100% sure of something. While I’ve attended Book Con three times (2015, 2017 & 2018), I’ve only attend Book Expo once (2018) and there are plenty of other bloggers/vloggers who have attended the latter convention more than me. However, using my own knowledge and some tips I’ve picked up from others’ content, I am here to present what I think you need to know to have the best possible Book Expo and Book Con for years to come! 

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Book Expo

What is it? :Book Expo is the largest North American annual book trade fair, featuring the latest content and titles in the publishing industry.

When & where is it? May 29-31, 2019, Javits Center, New York City

What is there to do at Book Expo? Panels, signings, book drops, bookish retailers

How do I get tickets? There are a variety of different ticket options for Book Expo, including but not limited to: librarians, educators, booksellers, authors, media, and of course, bloggers. Ticket prices vary depending on which category (the Blogger 3-day badge cost $250 in 2018) and are typically purchased online. Onsite tickets are only available to certain types of attendees and often for a higher price. Speaking of registration, almost all who wish to attend Book Expo must complete an online registration in order to be approved to attend Book Expo. I admit that I do not have much insight on who and who doesn’t get approved for tickets, but from my understanding, Book Expo does accept bloggers from a variety of follower counts.Registration is not yet open for 2019.

Are there any special protocols for signings/book drops? For the most part, Book Expo is like almost any convention, where you have to line up early for some book drops and signings or have to pick up a free ticket beforehand from the publisher. OR there will be no line and no ticket process and at the designated time, you’ll already be on your way with your wished-for book! Publishers will typically post their entire schedule for Book Expo, including book/ARC drops, signings, and panels, online about 2-3 weeks before the convention. However, some author signings are ticketed. Examples from 2018 included samplers for Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars and Ransom Riggs’ Map of Days as well as other really popular authors and titles. These tickets are handed out from Book Expo themselves before the official start time of 9 AM. While I did not try to get these tickets last year, you have to get to the Javits Center early to try and pick one up.

Book Expo also offers two special passes when buying your Book Expo tickets: Reader Pass and Avid Reader Pass. In short, with the purchase of these passes, you can pick up to a select of official author signings (typically held in the Book Expo autographing area instead of publishers’ booths) that you can skip the line for. These tickets tend to sell out right when Book Expo tickets go on sale. While I am recognizing that these ticket holders do have the right to skip the line, it can just be frustrating for non-pass holders who may or may not get a signing with the author they’ve been waiting for because of pass holders. For example, Laini Taylor’s Muse of Nightmares was easily one of the most wanted ARCs of the convention and there was only one official MoN signing. The line started over 2 hours beforehand and over one hundred people had to be line. Come the signing’s start time, at least 40 people with avid reader passes came to the front. While my spot near the front “guaranteed” me a book, I felt bad for those who weren’t able to get a copy.

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What should I wear? I recommend wearing clothes and SHOES that you feel comfy in and won’t mind standing up in for long periods of time. Since Book Expo is an industry event, I try to save my fandom shirts for Book Con and wear outfits I’d wear to class or to a nice family dinner. Backpack and multiple totes (which are almost always given out at various booths) highly recommended.

What are some benefits to attending Book Expo?

-Networking

-Meeting fellow bloggers and bookish people

-Tons of free books and advance reader copies

-Much calmer atmosphere than Book Con

-Meeting authors and publishing teams

Cons:

-Crazy crowds over limited or highly wanted books (ex: The Wicked King at Book Expo 2018).

-Higher ticket prices than Book Con

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Book Con

What is it? Book Con is a fan convention that combines books and pop culture.

When & where is it? June 1 & 2, 2019, Javits Center, New York City

What is there to do at Book Con? Panels, signings, book drops, writing workshops, shopping at bookish retailers

How do I get tickets? Book Con tickets are available online starting on November 19,2018. Tickets are typically also available to buy on-site. There is no approval process. The types of tickets include individual tickets for Saturday and Sunday, weekend passes, and VIP passes. VIP passes are more expensive than the other passes and tend to sell out right when Book Con tickets go on sale. VIP tickets include getting to go on the showfloor first, first pick of Autographing Area tickets online (more on that below), and typically some extra swag and books. I’ve never purchased VIP passes myself and feel it hasn’t significantly affected my experiences.

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Are there any special protocols for autographing/signings? In-booth signings tend to vary. Some in-booth signings require that you pick up some sort of ticket prior to the signing- either at the start of the day or a certain amount of time before the signing. Some booths will also require you to buy the book in order to get it signed. Other in-booth signings do not require a ticket, however, you’ll typically have to get in line anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before the signing. Book Con’s audience is double to triple the size of Book Expo, so any free book signings or ARC drops tend to get competitive and cramped. Booths either prefer people to line up beforehand or will not start any sort of lining up before the designated time.

Book Con has its own Autographing Area. The signings in the Autographing Area require additional FREE tickets that are usually posted online 2-3 weeks before Book Con. You are required to have purchased a Book Con ticket in order to access these tickets online. In 2018, VIP pass holders were able to access these tickets online before people with “general” tickets. Popular authors tend to go quickly once this tickets are posted online. Only 2 autographing are allowed per ticket per day. Tickets that don’t fill up online are usually available on-site in the Autographing Area. Most signings in the Autographing Area require you to buy the author’s book in the signing line. Find more on the Autographing Area ticketing here.

What should I wear? Like Book Expo, I recommend wearing clothes and shoes that you’ll feel comfortable walking around and STANDING in all day- because of the crowds, there’s typically not a ton of space to sit in line. I usually go for a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Backpack and multiple totes (which are almost always given out at various booths) highly recommended.

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What are the benefits of attending Book Con?

-Meeting authors and attending their panels and signings

-Meeting fellow bookish people

-Tons of free swag

-Free books & advance reader copies

-Networking

Cons:

-Bigger crowds and overall crazy atmosphere

-Competition & crowds over advance reader copies (ex: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik ticket drop at Book Con 2018)

-Being required to purchase book(s) for Autographing Area

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Have you attended Book Expo and Book Con? Any tips? Share in the comments!

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