In other book news, the popular book industry conferences, BookCon, BookExpo, and Unbound futures are uncertain after their owner ReedPop cancels their current format for 2021 and going forward.

The announcement was made on November 30th which set Book Twitter and other news outlets into a frenzy.

To summarize for those with screen readers who can’t read picture messages on Twitter: BookCon made a statement that while they loved meeting since 2014, they have been considering redoing the show. With Covid forcing them to cancel many events and another cancellation for 2021, they’ve decided to retire the shows in their current format but hope to reimagine them going forward. They encourage their fans to support indie publishers and booksellers and appreciate their fans support and patience during this time.

Many authors grieved the loss of the conferences which they made great memories at, never got to attend, or they said showed them the elitism of the industry. Although many acknowledged that it may come back in the future, many were disappointed about never being able to attend it in it’s original format or mention that they will miss the great memories and friends they made there.

However, after reading over the announcement, it sounds like to me that the conferences will be continued to be held in the future but will be a mix of in person events and online. However the owners are not positive how it will work in the future.

They are looking for suggestions from authors, publishers, booksellers and other people in the industry for ideas. ReedPop will continue to host the BookCon Facebook group where people can continue to connect virtually in the meantime.

ReedPop, the pop culture event–focused subdivision of Reed Exhibitions, said that, given the “continued uncertainty surrounding in-person events at this time,” the company has decided “that the best way forward is to retire the current iteration of events as they explore new ways to meet the community’s needs through a fusion of in-person and virtual events.” -Publisher’s Weekly,BookExpo and BookCon Are No More“, Dec, 1, 2020

This comes as Covid-19 continues to ravage the world and many industries. Forcing book publishing, authors, and writers alike to adjust, adapt, and reckon with the new reality.

Earlier this year after several rescheduling, the conferences ended up hosting free virtual events for six days from May 26 – May 31st instead. Many authors have turned to virtual book tours, interviews, and events instead.

As in person events will likely continue to be too risky to hold into the coming year, many industries face a similar issue with their conferences.

ReedPop’s revenue was down 70% after the pandemic started and is expected to only make several hundred million in revenue this year compared to the billion they made in 2019.

I believe that this will allow more people to attend conferences even if only some of the events are online. There are a lot of people who are unable to attend events in person due to cost, time commitment, and other obligations such as care giving or receiving care.

Publisher’s Weekly reports that many booksellers and publishers weren’t surprised and would welcome a new format to the show. What started out as a B2B known as the American Booksellers Association Trade Show (ABA for short), turned into a show that also invited a lot of the general public to attend.

A lot of the publishers who spoke to Publishers Weekly want BEA to come back as more focused on it’s original purpose as a trade show for B2B so that they can continue to highlight the business aspects of the book publishing industry.

The event had long been focused on catering to booksellers, who were treated by publishers to special events, parties, private dinners with authors and stacks of galleys. In recent years, that attention was diluted, as the fair sought to attract more members of the book community.” Publisher’s Weekly, – “Booksellers Say BEA Demise Is No Surprise” Dec 2nd, 2020.

I think a lot of the general public loved attending the BookCon and BEA conferences as well and using it to connect with their favorite authors, publishers, and fans. I understand this separation, but perhaps a new format could be adjusted for the general public online while giving more opportunities in person to booksellers, publishers, and authors.

I guess we will have to see going forward what becomes of these conferences and the industry and general as Covid (and Amazon) continue to force everyone to adapt.

Did you get to attend BookCon or BookExpo? How do you think they should be reimagined for the future?


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