BEA, BookCon Repositioned as Separate, Adjoining Shows

In a move to address the frenzy caused this spring by overlapping consumer and professional publishing conventions, Reed Exhibitions executives have decided to make BookExpo America and BookCon separate, adjoining shows in 2015.
BookExpo AmericaIn a move to address the frenzy caused this spring by overlapping consumer and professional publishing conventions, Reed Exhibitions executives have decided to make BookExpo America (BEA) and BookCon separate, adjoining shows in 2015. In 2013, BookExpo launched Consumer Day, opening its door for one day to the general public. In 2014, it renamed and restructured Consumer Day as BookCon, making it a publishing-meets-pop culture event aimed at reaching a broad swath of readers. But while that consumer-friendly day “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says BEA Event Director Steve Rosato, selling 10,000 tickets before organizers had to draw the line, it mixed with the professional days like oil and water. Reed Exhibitions had good reasons for rejiggering the schedule. “The original vision was for BookExpo and the consumer day to coexist peacefully, with exhibitors going about their BEA business and then dealing with consumers,” says Rosato. But for some exhibitors, particularly vendors, interacting with consumers wasn’t a priority, and in the end there was an “even split” among exhibitors about the effectiveness of overlapping the two events. With BEA working better during the week, BookCon too crowded when it was shoehorned into just one day over the weekend, and most publishers still affirming that “BookCon is something we need,” says Rosato, it made sense to make the two events consecutive. “BookCon is its own thing, BEA is its own thing, but you couldn’t have one without the other,” he concludes, and now the energy generated by booksellers, librarians, media critics, and publishers at BEA can flow into a two-day event that’s conceived as something a little different. “We want this to be a pop culture event, not a literary festival, though such festivals are wonderful,” explains Rosato. “We want to tie BookCon to other sorts of media and draw in people who don’t typically attend literary events.” Reed Exhibitions, he argues, has the wherewithal to facilitate crossover between the publishing and pop culture worlds, given its experience with events like the Star Wars Celebration and various PAX and Comic-Con extravaganzas. The aim is to make BookCon a destination for dedicated fans following a wide range of pop culture phenomena by giving them related but unique material. BookCon logoBEA will be held Wednesday, May 27, through Friday, May 29, while BookCon will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31. Once again, both shows will take place at the Javits Center in New York, with BEA exhibitors interested in BookCon’s consumer opportunities presumably staying on. (Details about how the schedule change will play out are still forthcoming.) The BEA show floor will open at 1 p.m. on May 27, with special events taking place that morning. Exhibit doors will also be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on May 28 and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on May 29, meaning that BEA will return to three full days of exhibits, conferences, and events after the shortened schedule of the last few years. BookCon will run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Though more information about the 2015 schedule should be coming in the next month, programming won’t be finalized until later. You’ll likely be hearing about the BEA breakfasts by the end of January and the buzz panels a month later, but BookCon’s celebrity-stocked programs will be announced closer to April, except for some marquee events. “BookCon comes very late, especially with all the movie tie-ins,” explains Rosato. That way, BookCon can get the up-to-the-minute talent it wants to make a splash for its fresh debut next spring.

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