The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center is a rather large place, and the 2017 iteration of BookCon took up the entire building. The event occurred over the span of two days, from June 3 to June 4. The event itself has only been going on since 2014. It was established to create a space where pop culture and books collide. Fans, authors, and even some celebrities come from all across the country to meet in New York City.
BookCon, taking its name from other events such as Comic-Con and the lesser known LeakyCon (which is all about the Harry Potter franchise), was created by a company called ReedPOP. Unsurprisingly, ReedPOP also organizes other conventions, such as the aforementioned Comic-Con, as well as the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Star Wars Celebration, and other events.
The reason for the creation of BookCon was to boost the attendance and popularity of BookExpo America, which is a long running book fair. BookExpo took place right before BookCon at the Javits Center, lasting four days. Publishing companies gather and display their upcoming titles, sell books, socialize with colleagues, and sell/purchase rights and international rights. With the two being grouped together, it is no mystery that authors and publishers attend both, and they take place one right after the other in the same location.
Every year, the convention gets larger and attracts more famous authors and people. One of the large draws at this year’s BookCon was none other than comedian Kevin Hart. Hart has recently come out with a book entitled “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons” with contributor Neil Strauss. He had a Q&A session on Sunday on the Main Stage. As a comedian, Hart definitely brought the comedy to his talk on stage, but also got incredibly philosophical. “I’m not afraid of being honest, I’m an open book. I’m a person. My life is real, it’s not a façade. … I’m not afraid to show I’m human,” Hart said.
Another big name celebrity that made an appearance was Bill Nye. Nye has recently become the co-author on a new children’s series entitled “Jack and the Geniuses” with Gregory Mone, which takes young readers through a mystery filled with real science that will keep them guessing until the very end. “When you go exploring… two things happen. You will make discoveries…and you will have an adventure,” said Nye to the crowd on Sunday. Following their time on stage, Nye and Mone went to the convention hall on the third floor for an autographing session.
Some other celebrity-turned-authors in attendance included actors Chad Michael Murray (“Sun Records”, “One Tree Hill”), Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”), and Jeffery Tambor (“Transparent”).
Besides celebrities who happen to have written books, BookCon also featured plenty of famous authors that had fans rushing into their panels. Big names such as Cassandra Clare (“The Moral Instruments”, “The Infernal Devices”, and now “The Dark Artifices”), Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy and the “Six of Crows” Duology), Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series), Veronica Roth (The “Divergent” series), and Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale”). While there were far more authors in attendance than the ones listed here, these are some of the more well known.
For those who write their own stories as well as read, many of the authors’ panels were helpful to gleaning bits of the writing process. Most authors agreed that planning was crucial to the finished product. In the panel “Magic With an Edge”, authors and friends Bardugo and Holly Black (“The Darkest Part of the Forest”, “The Coldest Girl in Cold Town” and the Curse Workers series) discussed their methods for plotting out novels. Bardugo shared that she creates a “beat sheet”, where she writes down 12 major plot points that have to happen in the novel and elaborates from there. “It doesn’t matter how much you plan,” Bardugo said, “you get those characters on the page and all of a sudden you’re like ‘oh no’. But this allows me to maintain momentum and get a beginning, middle, and end on the page without feeling completely paralyzed.” Black, on the other hand, said, “I try to make a plan. And then it’s wrong. And then I make another plan, and that’s wrong.” She shared that she rewrites her beginnings until they feel right, and then goes from there.
No matter which panels attendees went to, advice was bound to be shared. Writers were in their element at BookCon, with some of the best in the business sharing their personal experiences and tips on how to make stories come alive.
The 2018 BookCon will take place on June 2 and 3 at the Javits Center, and readers, writers, and fans are encouraged to get their tickets when they become available. BookCon was a valuable experience for those looking for more insight into their favorite books, authors, celebrities, or even themselves.
(left to right) Authors Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo in a panel discussion. (photo courtesy of the Kelsey Nicholson)
(left to right) Maggie Steifvater, Kami Garcia, Laini Taylor, and Marissa Meyer at BookCon. (photo courtesy of the Kelsey Nicholson)