April 28, 2017

San Diego’s Comic-Con is famous; world famous in fact, with spin-off events elsewhere in the US, in the UK and Australia. Fans can meet and dress as their favorite characters from the comics, movies and TV shows and attend Q&As, presentations and panel discussions that offer keen industry insights. Less famous however, is the book world’s equivalent BookCon. This two-day extravaganza started in 2014 in New York as an annual convention for literature enthusiasts, it offers pretty much the same excitement as Comic-Con… but, sadly, without the dressing up.

This year’s headliners include Margaret Atwood, whose iconic work The Handmaid’s Tale is enjoying a revival, Dan Brown who enjoyed tremendous success with The Da Vinci Code and Shea Serrano whose expertise brings rap to print and prose to websites placing him on the New York Times Best Sellers List. And that’s just the headlines who have been announced so far. Event director Brien McDonald notes: “We’ve been working hard to develop a show that has something for every type of book lover to enjoy.”

A browse of the events line-up shows this to be the case: there are attractions for both adults and youngsters. A discussion on the social issues of 2017 such as gun violence, urban decay in post-industrial cities and the modern portrayal of women on the downtown stage nestles next to  a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Jeff Kinney’s bestselling series Diary of a Wimpy Kid on the main stage. It isn’t just lovers of print and paper that are being catered for either, online formats have been incorporated too. There are talks from Booktubers (book vloggers on YouTube – yes, it’s a thing) and crossover artists such as headliner Shea Serrano who is also known for his work on sports and social comment websites. As the conference tagline states, this is “where storytelling and pop culture collide.”

In much the same way that Comic-Con embraced movies and TV shows that had never actually begun as comics, BookCon is embracing literature in all forms: print books, eBooks, audio, video, music compendiums and website blogs.

It is unsurprising really, considering that literature itself began as a comment on society and popular culture just as much as an expression of creativity. This year’s BookCon takes place June 3 – 4 in New York City (buy tickets here but only after a visit to “Gringotts Wizarding Bank”). Let’s just hope the event becomes as popular as Comic-Con with spin-off events in different parts of the world… and with fans dressing up as literary characters.

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