Books

Surviving Your First Bookcon

Bookcon is catered to fans of both pop culture and literature and according to the official website, is “where storytelling and pop culture collide.” The convention has been around for about five years and has been gaining popularity.

This post is a compilation of tips from my own personal experience at Bookcon 2018, in addition to my knowledge coming from about a decade of attending conventions. There are also YouTubers who give excellent suggestions on this particular event. Monica Kim’s videos are a great watch. I came across her channel while doing research for this post!

I am just a bus drive away from New York and loved attending last year. Although the exhibit hall is usually a bit crowded, panels (for the most part), are a lot more relaxed  in comparison. They’re great opportunity to relax and unwind, while listening to guests talk about their love for reading and writing.

Over my time of attending conventions, I find that it’s easiest to explain aspects in three main parts: planning, self-care, and the  weekend of event. Some of the these three do overlap bit. This is from the point of view of someone who has a relaxed convention experience. Even so, some of these tips may come in handy for people who want to make the most of their convention!

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Planning:

Initial Steps:  For me, planning is usually summed up in a few smaller steps: setting up your transportation (especially if you’re going to be flying), in addition to booking your hotel. Of course, you’ll also need to get a ticket! Last but not least,  as the convention approaches, you should also plan your schedule. Bookcon has an official app for both iOs and Android, which makes planning a lot easier, as the schedule is usually posted about a month of so prior to the event. It is also easily customizable based on your own interests.

Knowing the room or booth number of areas you want to go to, plus getting an idea of the general layout of the convention center, is also very helpful in the planning stages.

More on Booking Hotels:  When it comes to hotels and travel, try to book as soon as possible. As the event gets closer, it may be difficult to get hotels which are in close proximity to the event.  Like many conventions, Bookcon also does have official lodging. This means that the hotel is at a discounted prize, and the hotels are aware of the convention. Make sure you book before the deadline. This year, the deadline is May 27th. It is important to note that this year, booking does default on Bookexpo dates and you’ll have to manually change your booking dates. Bookexpo is a related convention run by the same company that is more industry-based. Simply change the dates to the one’s that are during Bookcon, and you’ll be good to go!

Planning Your Experience and Expectations: When planning, do keep in mind that you may not be able to make it to all of the events, panels, or autograph sessions. Try not to let this put a damper on your experience. Sometimes there’s a limited amount of giveaways and time when events take place. With planning, try to get to lines as early as you can. Book your travel as early as possible. You may also need a backup plan if you’re unable to make it to one event. I’ve seen a few people suggest planning an additional event during the same time slot, so you’ll still be able to keep yourself busy.

Extra tip. Make sure to double check your schedule a few times, especially the day before the event and the morning of.

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Image from Projecthelping.org

Self-care:

Water , Food, and Medicine: Bring plenty of water and some snacks, in addition to vitamins and medicines. Advil is always great to carry around. As someone who does struggle with joint pain, I usually like to carry around some form of aspirin. Although conventions are exciting, do not overwork yourself. Know your limitations. Standing in line can make you a bit tired…and hungry! There are plenty of chairs and seating areas around the convention  center.

Chargers, and Bags: Also be sure to bring at least one portable charger for your devices. Power banks are even better! I’ve seen many people carry around tote bags or backpacks throughout the event. But with the weight of books. this may put a strain on your back or shoulder. I’ve seen a few people advise bringing a suitcase to carry books and occasionally dropping off your book haul to the coat check area. I’ve heard that coat check is typically less that $5. Though I did hear some rumors about theft in suitcases–people stealing books straight out of people’s luggage. This is a very small fraction of attendees, but it something to keep in mind. If you do have luggage on you,  keep an eye on it. If you’re concerned about theft, you may also want to put a lock on your suitcase for added security.

Extra tip: It can be chilly in the convention center and during your ride to the event. Although you may not think you need it, I did get cold in the con center last year and was glad I brought one. On the same note, bring comfortable shoes! You’ll be doing a lot of walking around. 

Day of event:

So, you’re at Bookcon: It can be easy to get overwhelmed the day of an convention. Take a deep breath and take in your surroundings. Get an idea of the layout of the convention center, where panels are, where autographing is, and so on. Although maps are currently not on the Bookcon app at the time of writing this post, they should be up prior to the event, giving you a chance to get an idea of your surroundings.

The convention center typically opens up at ten in the morning. If you want to get a few last minute autograph tickets, they may hand them out then, so lining up early is a best bet.

I am not usually one to get autographs and can’t really give solid advice, other than getting there ahead of time. I usually am pretty relaxed when it comes to events and don’t typically get autographs or advanced reader copies. Last year, I arrived at the convention an hour after opening and was able to take everything in at a slow pace, the advertisements for newest books, the sheer amount of space in the main hallway, and the massive exhibit hall.

But with all of the other steps in mind, the planning and self care, you’re ready.  After all, you have prepared for this! Although here are many events and activities going on throughout the convention weekend, make sure to leave a bit of free time in between to rest!

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