So let's talk about Saturday. Blogger Con. The Blogger Con. Also known as Book Hell on Earth.
But hold on. First let's cover the Bloomsbury Blogger Breakfast. Held at their offices (which admittedly, is one of my favorite publisher offices), it was hosted by the awesome team of Lizzy, Erica, Emily, and Courtney. It was a fun, intimate gathering where they let us take shelfies - and Bloomsbury has some amazing shelves - and meet authors Sarah Maas and Jessica Day George.
Nicole and I even got to recreate Emily & Erica's photo:
And then we may have used Lizzy as a photographer for an impromptu Heir of Fire-inspired photo shoot:
Shortly after we left and headed to BEA. To Book Con. To Hell.
Here's a video I took when we stepped out of the cab. The line stretched around the Javits and then there were so many lines once you got inside. It was a chaotic, jumbled mess.
Going into the actual Book Con area was insane. I almost wondered if I missed the part where I was supposed to sign a waiver saying I wouldn't sue if I was trampled to death. I had my handy dandy schedule which honestly had like 5 signings I wanted and 1 panel. All that went out the window when I got to the autographing area.
But it's cool. Because there was security guards to make sure things didn't get out of hand.
Um .... Can someone get them a Red Bull?
I swung by the Spencer Hill Press booth to grab a ticket for Jennifer Armentrout's signing of The Return and ran into Kate and Damaris, who were much calmer than I was, despite their booth being mobbed.
Knowing the way BEA worked, I decided to go to the autograph area (*shudder*) and find the line for Jen's signing, which would start in a little over an hour. Because as any BEA attendee knows, lines for authors, especially popular ones, start lining up at least an hour in advance.
So I, along with Jen and Gabrielle, embraced my inner pinball and went into the crowd. We finally made it to where Jen's signing would be and I walked over to the girl in charge of that line, a totally awesome BookCon worker named Catherine. I asked her about the Jennifer Armentrout line and she said, "It's not starting until 10:30." The signing was at 11, it was now 9:50. She was very adamant that the line would not start until she handed the first person in line the whiteboard with the signing info on it. The same board she was clutching like a buoy as people slammed into her.
Fair enough. I asked if I could hang out near her anyway. She shrugged and said sure and I turned to tell Jen and Gabrielle what was going on, and when I did, they had been joined by another group of bloggers who wanted to attend the signing.
I relayed that the line wouldn't officially start until 10:30 so Jen and Gabrielle opted to try Daisy Whitney's line for The Fire Artist while I unofficially held our unofficial spots in the unofficial line.
What happened next was pure insanity and I'm not even sure how it went down, but I essentially wound up working Book Con for the next 2 hours. More and more people started coming up, asking about Jen's signing. Some had tickets from SHP, some looked at me like I was nuts. Catherine and I told everyone where to go to get a ticket and finally, by around 10:15, the crowd for Jen's signing had turned into a mob that had to be moved.
But Catherine was stuck working the line for the signing that was currently going on and couldn't leave her spot, so I volunteered to corral everyone and get a line set up. Kate came over from SHP and passed out tickets to everyone, mindful that they only had 250 copies of The Return for the signing.
Which is awesome, except that 500 people showed up. Shortly before Jennifer Armentrout's signing, Jen returned (Gabrielle ran away for the BEA side of the floor to escape the crowds) and Damaris arrived. Jen and I got our books signed first and then dropped our bags behind the signing desk and I helped control the crowd and direct people while Jen made sure everyone had a post-it with their name for the signing.
What started as a massive headache actually became fun (I thrive in chaotic situations), and it helps that Jen Armentrout has some of the best fans. While the back of the line was waiting, I got them to cheer for Seth:
Plus some of my favorite bloggers and friends were in this line as well.
The signing went over, and for the most part, people were kind and fun and just went with the crazy mess that Book Con was.
After Jen's signing wrapped up - oh, and did I mention she was signing next to Cassandra Clare and Holly Black who we got to meet? - I vacated the Book Con area and wandered the exhibit hall floor, which was pretty much a ghost town, and chatted with a few friends before leaving for the day and calling an end to my BEA adventures.
So final Book Con thoughts? Book Con isn't a bad idea. But the way it was handled was a disaster waiting to happen. Lines and crowds aside, it was unsafe to put 10,000 people in a space that small and expect it to work. I heard the area where panels were held was even worse.
Book Con proved that there is definitely room for a consumer based type of show, and maybe it could piggyback on the BEA hype. But combining the two - even for a day - was not something that should be repeated. Ever.