This is just something I need to get off my chest before I can get to the awesomeness that is BEA in a whole other post. Out with the bad and in with the good, I say. So I am expelling all my anger into this blog post in hopes that it’s out, I’ve said my piece and I can focus on all the great stuff about last week. BookCon was horrible. It was the worst bookish experience of my life. Maybe that’s not saying much because my bookish experiences have been rather pleasant so the bar isn’t really all that low to begin with, but BookCon set a new low that I don’t think any other event/panel/insertyourbookeventhere will ever be able to match.
Let’s talk about that for a second. You can’t squeeze ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag. You know what happens? The bag bursts. According to the Show Daily, a magazine printed for BEA attendees, “BookCon executives were expecting close to 10,000 readers to attend the new 2014 event.” Whether this means they sold 10,000 BookCon tickets in addition to BEA passes or in combination of, I don’t know, because the number I heard before seeing that article in the Daily was 8,000. It’s easy to believe the higher number, however, when they continued to sell tickets at the door after the event was opened to the public and very full on Saturday morning. Update: It has been brought to my attention that security and volunteer staffers were not even made aware of how many tickets were sold or how many attendees to expect.Above is an example of the hordes of attendees near the signing area.
In combination with the capacity issues were author signing problems. I proactively went to find a line for Libba Bray’s The Diviners signing (11am) at 10:15am, knowing that if I didn’t get there early, it was very well likely I would miss out on the book due to limited quantities (I mean, duh). First off, there were So. Many. People. that I had a hard time finding where she was signing (in part my fault because I had forgotten which table she was at), since the aisle was unwalkable due to all the people crowding the signing area. When I did find it, I lurked out of the aisles, next to one of the donation booths, because the volunteer staff refused to start a line, telling us to come back at 10:55am for her 11am signing. Folks, that is how you miss out on books and how staff members piss off readers who paid to be there that day. We were also threatened with “If I see your face over here for the Libba Bray signing any time before 5 minutes to, you will not get a book”, as well as with the fire marshal coming over to shut the whole thing down if we did not disperse. Problem: we couldn’t disperse because they were still letting people through the doors and those people were coming to the signing area. It was like a horrible mosh pit without any good music to justify being there. At least at concerts, the music is probably redeeming my mosh pit experience. All anyone wanted was be told where they could line up for the author signings. That’s all. People like organization. They thrive on it, not chaos. BookCon was complete chaos because without queues to line everyone up, no one knew where to go and what time to be there to make sure they didn’t miss their chance at the book they wanted. If the fire lanes were blocked, it wasn’t the Con-goers faults; it was the executives’ for selling too many fucking tickets for the convention hall. Asshats.
The Libba Bray Signing
The singular reason I subjected myself to BookCon was to score a signed copy of The Diviners by Libba Bray, one half the reason for all this madness at Table 12 to begin with. Libba Bray was not a ticketed event. But eventually, they delayed her signing and a volunteer staff member (the same one who threatened us with no books if we didn’t move) came out with a set of sticky notes and a pen, and began making tickets for people so they could leave and come back when the chaos had died down. And while handing out tickets, attendees began converging on her like a wild throng and I saw several tickets get ripped out of other attendees’ hands, as people desperately tried to get them for the signing. It was madness…but it was literally their only recourse left (you know, other than Just. Fucking. Lining. People. Up.) to get everyone to go away, so if you didn’t have a ticket, you weren’t getting into her line. Several people who showed up around 11:30 were very upset by this, because of course, they didn’t get there in time for tickets. Because it wasn’t a ticketed event! Even if it should have been from Day 1. It took me 45 minutes to get through her line. Asshats.Above a volunteer staff hands out ad-hoc tickets to Libba Bray
I think the executives at BookCon acted very greedy and didn’t take any consideration for the safety of the attendees. Fire exits and lanes were blocked. If there had been a fire where I was at during the Libba Bray signing, I am positive we’d all have died right there because the crowd was literally too large, with more pouring in, to make any kind of escape. We were, for all intents and purposes, trapped. The staff members were rude and unhelpful, and it’s hard to even blame them for that when they were so clearly understaffed for an event of that magnitude. I will never attend BookCon again. They can KMA.
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