What I Learned at New York City's Book Con

I have always loved the written word. Reading and writing are two of my passions, so I knew that because of this I needed to go to Book Con.


Book Con is an event based around books and pop culture that began in 2014. I attended one of the two days back in June 2017 with two of my best friends. However, my expectations were extremely high after hearing so many stories of people receiving piles of free books and advanced readers copies. Although I enjoyed myself, I knew I needed to go back with more realistic goals. This year, I went with some college friends for June 2018.


I break up Book Con into three different areas: ticketed (but free) autographing sessions from authors attending the show that year, a show floor filled with exhibitors selling and giving away books and other bookish merchandise, and interesting panels made up of the con’s guest authors. I did extensive research on the authors that would be attending. I also read through the exhibitors list and planned in advance which panels I was interested in.


Finally, my badge came in the mail, and it was time to choose which authors I wanted to meet. I was able to sign up for two autographing sessions [RW8] per day with any author I chose. Luckily, my friends and I were able to see most of the authors we wanted to meet.


I knew that once the autographing sessions had been set, I had to officially narrow down my list. It’s best to go in with a flexible schedule of what you want to see and do, but I learned not to cram events down to the last minute. I left some time open to check out the show floor or in case I decided I wanted to see something else.


Like the year before, the event was packed, but we were able to attend everything we wanted to see. The first event we attended was a panel entitled “Social Justice Warriors: Redefining Youthful Rebellion.” I thought the panel was very eye-opening and interesting. The panelists discussed how they used their writing to try and create change in the world and educate people. They targeted people of all ages and explored controversial topics such as LGBTQ+ issues and Black Lives Matter. My only other planned event was an autographing session with the incredible Cassandra Clare, author of of the popular series The Mortal Instruments and many other spin-off series. She is one of my favorite authors, which is why I didn’t mind waiting in line for nearly two hours to meet her.


While those were the official events I had planned for Saturday, we walked the show floor and checked out a lot of the publishers and other sellers. The best parts of the show floor were the millions of wheels to spin to win free stuff and the giveaways publishers announce. For example, my friends and I were able to get ARCs of different books from Penguin Teen. An ARC, or advanced readers copy, is a book that is given to people before its official release date as a treat. While there were many ARCs all over Book Con, I was only able to get two of them, which is two more than last year, so I was very excited about it.



On Sunday, we ended up getting there at about 11:30 a.m., just in time for a panel that was based on jeopardy called “I’ll Take Quidditch for $500, Please!: an Audiobook Game Show.” While none of us participated in the actual game, we answered the questions based on books amongst ourselves. The day was filled with more wandering on the show floor which led to more free stuff and a purchase of Storymatic, a box full of different cards to be picked that would help create writing prompts. I got free stuff based on the Shadowhunter books. I also met Jenny Han, an author I have loved since I was in elementary school.


My last two events on Sunday were two more panels. The first was “Yet-to-Be: Bravery”  which discussed how to embrace yourself and be brave in a world that can be scary. The speakers weren’t afraid to share their fears and made the panel a safe place to learn. The final panel was “Book-to-Film” which involved authors discussing what it feels like to have their books being made into movies. They discussed the process and feelings of seeing their work transformed for the big screen.


While I loved all of the events I attended during the weekend, one of the best parts of the day were meeting people. While in line to meet my two chosen authors, I met a college freshman who shared my love of Clare. I also met a recent graduate who teaches 5th grade and lover of Han that was just a sweetheart.


This year, I realized that I was surrounded by people who had that same passion for words as I did. This made me appreciate my love of books even more than I already do, and it helped me see that I shouldn’t be ashamed of being a self-proclaimed book nerd.


Catch me at Book Con 2019, and don’t be afraid to let your inner reader shine!


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