Reed Exhibitions has made no secret about its interest in drawing more consumers to BookExpo America. Today the company released new details about its plans for the consumer-focused third day of the trade show, unveiling an event called BookCon that it is describes as a "show within a show."
BookCon is being developed by ReedPop, a division of the company dedicated to pop culture shows including New York ComicCon (which drew 130,000 attendees in 2013). Lance Fensterman, one-time director of BEA who now oversees ReedPop as global senior v-p, said his aim is to deliver “a massive audience of people interested in reading content” to publishers.
Fensterman said BookCon will have little resemblance to the “power reader” events that BEA ran on the final day of the trade show for the past two years. “It will be a whole new ball game,” Fensterman explained, adding that ReedPop will use its experience building events that appeal to a younger, non-trade demographic--specifically those between the ages of 20 and 35--in crafting BookCon.
BookCon will take place on the last day of BEA, May 31. Publishers who wish to take part in BookCon will be assigned to one area of the Javits Center (where BEA is taking place), while exhibitors who want only the trade to have access to their booths will be in another area. To help draw consumers, BookCon’s headline event will feature a panel with Amy Poehler and Martin Short; John Grisham and Stan Lee are also scheduled for BookCon events. Fensterman said other participating authors will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Aside from some new signage, BookCon will, Fensterman said, not have a very different look than the BEA floor from previous years. This, however, is something that he expects to change in 2015.
Fensterman is aiming to draw 10,000 visitors to BookCon this year, with tickets priced at $30. During BookCon, publishers will be allowed to give away, and sell, titles from their booths, and from the autographing areas.