Monday, June 2, 2014

BEA Post Show Numbers/Looking ahead to 2015

There is always a wide interest to report BEA's attendance figures quickly after BEA.   In an attempt to accommodate that, we do work with the 'raw' numbers we get at the conclusion of each day.  You will note if you compare the figures I am about to provide, they are slightly different than what I had reported at the same time last year because the 2013 figures have been updated with final audited figures and that does reflect some changes.  The difference in attendee number was insignificant, only -7 people.  The professional attendee number from 2013 did increase significantly from what was originally shared and was up +785, we expect it will increase again for 2014 in the audit process as we able verify a lot of exhibitor personnel at the conference sessions that are not otherwise captured.  Those numbers will then be added once the audit process is completed, bolstering the final total in few weeks: 
  • Total Verified Professional Attendance for BEA 2014 only: 10,965 = -1%
  • Total Verified Professional Attendance for BEA 2013 only: 11,094 
    • Originally reported 11,101 in 2013
  • Total Industry Professionals 2014 = 19,860 = -3%
  • Total Industry Professionals 2013 = 20,479 
    • Originally reported 9,694 in 2013
BookCon is tied to BEA, but it is indeed its own story.  BookCon was a complete sellout with10,000 tickets sold.  It is must be noted BookCon evolved from Power Readers in 2013 into an event that sold 10,000 tickets in less than 3 months as BookCon was officially launched in mid March.  Think about that for a minute.

We exceeded our most optimistic expectations and created something that the world of books never imagined with the opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist of pop culture and leverage all that BEA always encompassed as THE place to launch new titles, but now to do so with the immediacy and passion that comes with a 'Con' style event.  There were Power Readers that missed the experience they enjoyed last year and it is understandable but the purpose of BookCon is to create a platform books in pop culture and attract people that would not otherwise go to a traditional bookish event.

BEA will remain a vital trade event and BookCon is poised to expand and offer new opportunities for publishers that will ultimately sell more books.  There are things to manage and address with timing, access etc... but is it as simple as it is complicated because BookCon and BEA are highly complimentary and still mutually exclusive.  The large majority of BEA participants can leverage elements of BookCon both efficiently and cost effectively to get a lot more value, but there are also many companies that need the B2B value that BEA delivers and have no interest or need to interact with consumers.  There is also an opportunity for companies to participate in BookCon that have no interest or value to be gained by participating in BEA. 

Looking ahead as organizers, we have work to do.  Nothing is certain at this moment, but most consumers events are multi-day events, not 6 hours.  There are challenges to be met in containing costs for exhibitors with move in and move out time and it is clear that BEA remains vital, but the B2B element is much stronger during the week and not over the weekend.  You will see news and announcements in the coming weeks but we are coming at this from a position of strength knowing we have fully turned a corner with BEA and have an enormous opportunity with a full year of planning for what BookCon can do for the publishing industry. 


  1. I just wanted to say that I felt BookCon was a gigantic mess and waste of money. I attended last year as a Power Reader and it was a wonderful experience. This year BookCon turned into a circus and money maker for you. There were not enough books to be signed, the lines were to long, not enough ticketed autographs available. And keeping 10,000 people in the small area was just plane crazy. I really think you should go back to a regular power reader day for those people that really want to connect with authors and not be part of your desire to be the next pop culture event. If you continue with BookCon they need to be to completely separate event because it was horrible event. I have attend many book/reader events and you guys have a long way to go.

  2. Hi Steven,

    I attended BEA as an ABA member and blogger. I've been attending since 2007 in fact. BookCon was badly handled to be honest. The space was too small and the overlap of publishers who had large booths there from BEA to the publishers with satellite booths just for BookCon did not help matters. Congestion in the aisles, miscommunication between the volunteers, security and booth staff ran amok and the atmosphere itself was hostile I felt.

    I had legitimate reasons to talk with publishers at their booths, to discuss the breakfast, to get clarification from earlier exchanges, etc and it was impossible to do anything. The amount of times I was shoved, stepped on, called a bitca and dismissed was disturbing. I don't know what kind of orientation or guideline for behavior you outlined to BookCon attendees but the vast majority seemed unable to comprehend something as simple as "please let me pass".

    I realize some attendees get to have rolling carts for medical reasons but I saw far more without any sort of wrist band identifier running around (and crushing my fingers) then those who did. I saw BookCon attendees harass booth attendants for "the free books we were promised" and several walk away without paying at other booths.

    The less said about the John Green clusterscrew the better I think.

    If BookCon was the kind of atmosphere you wish to utilize for passionate readers going forward (when BEA starts moving city to city each year) I really think you need to refine the idea. I don't think next you should have overlapping days between BEA and BookCon. Certainly not overlapping space. I think you need to have better communication between EVERYONE and do so from the outset (did you hear about the clusterscrew that was the early morning Ticketed Authors line? No communication was given to the BookCon people that they had to wait until 9am to get their ticketed author tickets. None. So come 6:45am when they were told they were justifiably upset. This twelve year old kid who had been waiting in line since before 6am ended out missing her chance for the Cassandra Clare signing because the tickets were all gone by the time she was allowed to get one (I ended up giving her mine because who let's a 12year old passionate reader CRY because they couldn't meet their idol author?).

    Yes I believe BookCon can be a wonderful opportunity for the publishing industry and the public, but it needs some very serious retooling and rethinking if you don't want a repeat of this year.

  3. I would not be surprised if safety limits were violated at BookCon. Over 10,000 people in less than half the exhibition hall? It was packed wall-to-wall with people. There's no way that area was NOT over capacity. As another person said: "If there had been a fire, we would have all died."

    This year has just reinforced one thing with me: I will not be attending BookCon next year. It's not worth it. It was disgustingly crowded. I know people who had panic attacks because of all the crowds. It was horrible. I left after one hour (was in one signing line, then bailed ASAP).

    I have no problem with the idea of BookCon in general, but it was handled so horribly. Over 10,000 people were crammed into a RIDICULOUSLY tiny space. It was dangerous and the lack of space made it a horrific experience.

  4. I love the idea of BookCon, but this was a disaster. The worst part is it wasn't safe. People were shoving, yelling, arguing and pushing. There was mass confusion at the autograph area. I'm a blogger who happened to be walking by and wound up working at BookCon for 3 hours because one signing line was out of control and no one knew what to do.

    The staff was woefully unprepared for the crowds and it showed. Thank God there wasn't a fire or disaster because you would have several casualties on your hands.

    I think BookCon is a solid idea. I love the idea of bringing the public in, but shoving 10,000 people in that small a space was a horrible and dangerous idea. Maybe add an extra day to BEA just for BookCon and give attendees access to the entire floor? Or cut the number of passes in half.

    I won't return to BookCon again if it's like this next year.

  5. I love seeing teens and tweens excited about reading. I love the idea of a public conference that celebrates books and caters to those who are voracious readers. I love the thought that there could be a public forum where readers get to interact with their favorite authors and be inspired to chase their own dreams.

    If you ever create an event like that, let me know.

    As much as you can tout BookCon as that type of event, it was nothing more than a last-minute scramble to make as many bucks as possible, at least from where I stand. I saw security and volunteers who were woefully unprepared for the crowds and patrons who were so stressed and upset they were near tears. As professional event coordinators who have organized many large-scale events like this, I find it impossible to believe that you had no idea that cramming 10,000 people in a space made for less than half that would make for a good experience for anyone.

    More like, you just didn't care.

    The patrons who have made BEA successful in years past - librarians, booksellers and bloggers - were merely afterthoughts set adrift in BookCon's wake. It's insulting how little regard was given to the rest of the BEA community and how BookCon might affect our experience. I paid for three days of interaction with authors and publishers, and instead I got two, plus one day in the seventh circle of hell. Everyone I wanted to speak to was on the BookCon side of the hall, and therefore completely inaccessible. After an hour of being stepped on, yelled at and shoved around, I just gave up. I know of many other "BEAers" who did the same thing. But, hey - it's all good, because, wow, BookCon "sold 10,000 tickets in less than 3 months. Think about that for a minute." Steven, I'd really rather not think about it anymore, if that's okay.

    I implore you to please put on your professional thinking caps and find a way to marry the two events in such a way that all attendees come away as satisfied as possible. I believe that overlapping BEA and BookCon should never have happened in the first place. Two days of BEA, followed by two days of BookCon (wherein BookCon utilizes the ENTIRE SHOW FLOOR) seems like a much better, safer, more efficient and more productive way to go. I can assure you that, for me at least, BookCon will never again be in my future. Hopefully you can staunch the ire and alienation of the BEA attendees that took the time and money to attend your event in years past. Hopefully, our opinions still matter.

  6. You know what? Romantic Times has it down pat. One giant bookfair to close out the convention with a whole slew of authors and the books aren't even free. Somehow people still show up in droves. RT lets readers bring in their own books to be signed and magically there is no shoving, lines for signings are civil (even when you have to cut through them to walk through the convention space), and there are still a lot of people there.

    BookCon was a horrible disaster. If you're interested in just making money, then have it and alienate your hardcore BEA attendees and Power Readers. But no one is fooled because IT WASN'T SAFE. That space wasn't large enough and whoever thought 10,000 tickets was okay needs to be thumped on the head.

    My videos of the circus known as BookCon:

    A book convention is a wonderful idea. But please make it about the books.

  7. This was my first experience. The first three booths I went to were of authors "selling me their books. Really? I was saved when I got to the Indie writers who were there to share. And bathrooms? Come on...That should not take 25 minutes in line.

  8. Overall, a big thumbs up to the BEA conference! ...However, I agree with previous posts about BookCon's space constraints, terribly long lines, very little direction by the staff. I wanted to spend some time on the Exhibits floor the last day and it was impossible. I do love the idea of BookCon and the energy of having kids and teens in the building was great, but it was not helpful to a smooth ending of the professional conference. Had there been more room or a separate end of the building for BookCon it might have worked to have them co-joined.