If you’ve been keeping up with Carpe Juvenis on Instagram or Twitter you already know that we went to Book Con for the first time this past weekend. It was our first real convention and we had a huge learning curve in those two days. By the end of the weekend we were exhausted (yes, from sitting and listening to panels all day and from strolling from booth to booth) and made a list of all the things we would do for next year’s. This year’s convention was held at the Javits Center – a huge convention building on the west side of New York City – and was set up with booths on the first floor, small panels and a main hall for big names (like Mindy Kaling, John Green, Jason Segal, and Judy Bloom) on the second. We opted to wait in line for Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, and spent the rest of the time going to smaller panels where we had the opportunity to see Julianne Moore, Tavi Gevinson, Jodi Picoult, Sophia Rossi, Candace Bushnell, Lily Koppel and many more speak about their upcoming literary adventures!
Here are our Book Con 101 tips for all of our fellow bookworms out there:
1. Bring a jacket and wear long pants. Convention centers are air conditioned. A lot. We spent the first day of Book Con freezing because we didn’t bring jackets. We figured it would be jam-packed with people and the shoulder-to-shoulder heat would keep us toasty. We were wrong and we suffered for our mistake. Pack a light scarf and long sleeve cover up for the long day ahead. You also want to wear long pants because you might be sitting on the ground while waiting in line for tickets to bigger events.
2. Bring plenty of snacks. Book Con 2015 was held at the Javits Center in Manhattan this year, and we weren’t sure if food would be allowed inside. We thought it might be similar to airports or concert venues where they pat you down and check your bags. Unfortunately and fortunately there was no entry security whatsoever, so we were able to walk into the convention center with a backpack full of snacks on the second day. It was much better than buying over-priced chips the day before when we weren’t sure if our precious snack loot would be tossed in the garbage. The day goes by a lot more smoothly when you can eat healthy snacks that you feel good about (and spend less money on!).
3. Bring a sturdy tote bag. You will without a doubt be given a tote bag (or 10) when you get to the convention center – everyone wants to use you as free advertising for their upcoming book or publishing company – but it really helps to show up with your own tote so that you can hold everything you need to bring, as well as new items that you’ll be given. Pro Tip: Do not wear a backpack. I wore a small backpack the first day and I was constantly being shoved around from people trying to walk behind me. It was frustrating for me but also probably super annoying for everyone else trying to move smoothly down the aisles. A small side bag for your wallet, keys, and phone along with your tote bag are my best suggestions for what to carry.
4. Strategize your game plan before the convention starts. Schedules for the entire weekend will be online weeks ahead of time, so it’s important to read through each event carefully. There’s a very likely chance that a few of the same speakers you want to see will be doing so at the same time, so prioritizing who you need to see beforehand will be critical. You’ll also want to build in time to walk around the booths and meet some awesome new authors who are introducing their self-published book for the first time ever! And if you’re like us you might also want to build in 5 minutes to let your curiosity get the best of you and peek around the corner to catch a glimpse of Khloe Kardashian during her book-signing.
5. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a ton of walking. Convention centers are huge.
6. Bring cash. $10 bills are your best bets for not getting any loose change back. You don’t want to bother with trying to pay with a credit card, especially if you’re in a busy intersection where jostling will occur. Bringing cash will also help you budget because you’ll know exactly how much money you have to spend that day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Pro Tip: This will sound counter-intuitive, but do not bring your own book to Book Con. Firstly, you’ll be too busy trying to figure out where to go for each event to even begin thinking about reading another chapter, secondly you’re going to be given books (some for free) and you’ll be able to purchase books for a super discounted price so bringing extra books won’t be necessary, thirdly it’s a great place to meet someone new and exchange book recommendations, and finally you just don’t want the extra weight with you all day as you walk around a giant convention center.