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Barely a week ago, I learned of this convention happening right here in NYC called Book Con. It's in Javits Convention Center, which is the largest con space in the city (where NYCC is held), so I knew it'd be a fairly large con. Still, programming-wise it looked like a smallish con...and strangely encompassed so many genres. None going terribly deeply. And I had a comp day at work to burn, so I took my Saturday midnight-8am shift off and took myself to Book Con, something like a date with myself.

I livetweeted the experience starting with my fretting about wardrobe choices at 2am, if anyone should be curious. I promise I got to more substantive stuff than talking about buses and selfies. If you get to the end and it's about Yuri on Ice, I messed up the threading and I continue here toward the end of the Rainbow Rowell panel. If in doubt, start with this tweet as I was leaving and work your way backwards (up).

This was a different experience for me, I will say. I went to three panels: Rainbow Rowell's, Janet Mock's, and Margaret Atwood. On some levels, it felt like a familiar con-going experience, because it was a fairly female-dominant space, albeit in Comic Con's physical footprint. I asked gentlespirit/221bnyc's Jen who I met there (randomly; not planned) and she agreed with me that it seemed like a 2:1 ratio for women to men. I wondered if the men felt that on some level--outnumbered or the tiniest bit insecure. Not because I wanted them to feel that way, but just out of curiosity. Does it become something they notice in public spaces they occupy? I just don't know the answer to that. But I know in the female experience, we share a lot of the same thoughts, sizing up a space. Clutching our keys late at night on the way home. I don't know what it's like to not feel aware of certain things.

But anyway. It was still a different feeling from other cons I've been to. Fan-run cons like 221B and Gridlock--cosplay is everywhere, sexuality and transness and openness, inclusivity, just seemed rampant even though the outward active purpose of the con is for Sherlock Holmes. Seattle felt different to me; some cosplay but the setting was just far more academic in setting. Still fun, but that lack of a hotel lobby thing is enormous and makes the entire con. And my pro-run con experiences are also quite different; cosplay is obviously everywhere at Comic Con, and I think I remember a ton at Pax East when I went early on. (Haven't been able to get tickets since.) This time, I think I only saw two people at all who were cosplaying--one as a Handmaid and one as Newt Scamander. I saw a few queer haircuts but it wasn't nearly as openly Alternative as the fun-run spaces. So that was one difference. Not an enormous one, I suppose, but sort of a unique middleground among the different cons I've been to personally.

I also had a strange sense of not quite understanding what people were about. People were so interested in grabbing free stuff left and right. Okay, sure, free stuff, but this was...a different thing, man. A couple weeks ago, I wondered aloud on Twitter (as one does) about an article on Amazon's subtle change to the way they sell books, because I couldn't quite envisage these random books in the world that weren't paid for to at least the publisher. Where did they come from? Did ARCs and galleys and random review copies sent out into the world actually cut into the profit of the original publisher? It was hard to imagine the numbers.

Not so much anymore. I spoke to a very nice lady at the booth for literary merch store Obvious State, and she told us that the industry con that happens just before Book Con is basically a looting free-for-all if you turn your back for one hot second (and often if you don't). And it's industry people doing the taking. Some of it could be innocent and all--there is a ton of free stuff and samples and previews and ARCs and galleys everywhere, but a lot of it is also taken outside of con hours, and by the arm-full and more. Things that are obviously set up in a store format (heavy duty canvas totes that retail for $40+ with tags on them) and not in a huge pile with a note on top that says "TAKE ME." She definitely emphasized that Book Con is not that way, it's the industry-only con that is essentially anarchy, and that you could leave the booth for lunch during Book Con days and not suffer losses beyond a pause on sales. I was kind of skeptical about that, but I mean hey, that was sweet of her to say.

But to get back to the not terribly grokking things. I truly don't get the grabbing of any random ole book. It almost makes more sense to me that people would eBay them (and apparently some of the industry people were definitely doing that), but I wouldn't just...pick up random books I had no knowledge about. Barely a sense of the genre or anything. I'm reminded of a Clueless quote where Cher says to Dionne, "you see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet." Well, um, books go in my brain. I don't intend on taking a random book home only to RL-backbutton out of it in chapter one, and then have that book collecting space in my hoarders-level apartment. That's not good for literally anyone.

Well. Anyway. I suppose to each their own. Maybe I  am the weirdo. 


Here are some pics from throughout the day behind the cut.

Read more... )

I'm still low-level interested in poking my head into other cons though. Maybe just to appreciate the home turf even more? It's interesting to see how different cons are organized and run, what cultures they grow, whether on purpose or not. It's a weird business to be in, looking for your own people, one's tribe, looking for that weird little connection to folks over specific things, specific loves. I rather like that space, even if I often feel like I'm just passing through. Conversant. Although it's slightly a thin line. It can also feel like being the only one not in love during spring.

I might look into Geek Girl Con as something I could do. I'd probably go to Dragon Con but it's always held on a weekend that's a vacation blackout at work. There's PodCon, which is new this year, but that's during the worst month in the whole year to travel. Mid-December? Gross and a half, and cross-country too.

Anyway. An odd place to end it, but needs must when the devil drives. Or, more to the point, when I have to see Wonder Woman again in a few hours so I  can make the podcast meeting in the evening.

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