Authors, Free Books, and More at BookCon 2015

Text and photos by Erika Schlenker, Hope College ’16

Book lovers, publishers, authors, and pop culture fans gathered in hordes last month to take part in BookCon 2015. Held in NYC’s Javits Center, the two-day event celebrated all things book-related with special screenings, autographing sessions, Q&As with the hottest talent, and much more. As a wannabe author and bona fide book geek, I spent 35 dollars on a one-day pass and walked to the convention center expecting a day filled with author sightings and insider information on the latest books.

Gayle Forman, left, Sarah Dessen, and Jenny Han
Gayle Forman, left, Sarah Dessen, and Jenny Han

The BookCon schedule was jam packed with events, a lot of which overlapped and made it difficult for me to pick what I wanted to do most. Despite missing out on a few opportunities, I was able to meet a lot of authors and learn about their writing processes.

I sat front row at a panel of Young Adult novelist royalty: Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Han. They spoke about the importance of friendship in their books, as well as what it’s like to have authors as best friends in the real world. The room was packed as fans sat at the edge of their seats to hear these women reveal details about their lives. The energy and excitement beating in the crowd was almost palpable, and I was reminded of why I want to be an author: when you write books, you have the power to impact readers; you can change lives, spark passions, and influence beliefs with your words.

Meg Cabot signing "Princess in Pink"
Meg Cabot signing my copy of “Princess in Pink”

Another panel of romance writers, including Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, focused on how readers influence their writing–everyone agreed readers are the best part of the job. One author explained that writers become icons to readers because reading is so personal. We read by ourselves, nurture the story, make it a part of us, and so the creator of the book turns into an important part of our lives. After the panel, Meg Cabot signed a copy of one of her books for me, and I can happily say she is just as wonderful and sweet as you would expect!

On the massive showroom floor, all sorts of publishers were promoting their business by giving away free books, advance reading copies, tote bags, and other swag. Walking in this area was chaotic with the huge crowds, but I was able to snag a few free goodies that made the money I spent on the ticket well worth it.

Overall, BookCon was a fantastic experience that reinstated my dream of becoming an author. And how lucky I was to live less than a mile away from the convention center! Many other attendees had to drag their suitcases to the event, coming from faraway places. Proximity to all things fun and exciting is just another reason why New York City is the best place to live.

The next BookCon will be held in Chicago on May 14, 2016. More information can be found on their website.


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