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Bookselling at New York Comic Con

When my friend asked if I could be a bookseller at New York Comic Con I said yes before even looking at my calendar. Selling books! At Comic Con! There was no way I was going to miss it. I haven’t been a proper bookseller in a few years, and I’ve never been to ComicCon, but I was excited even though I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I saw:

Comic Con is a great place for book nerds.IMG_2185

Obviously Comic Con has moved way beyond just comic book fandom. There was a good literary showing at this year’s Con. For most of the day I was nestled in the Penguin Random House wing of booths, but many, many other publishers had a big presence as well. There were so many people excited about getting tote bags, new books, and just to talk about books. There were a few galleys to give away in the autographing area I was in and someone asked, “What’s the catch?” A free book was just too good to be true.

And the bookish themed clothes and cosplay! There were Katniss Everdeens, Harry Potter characters, one girl whose shirt listed the Weasley family tree, and a lot of Mortal Instruments temporary tattoos.

Comic Con is really, really busy.

This statement is not a surprise to anyone, or me either, but to personally behold the sheer volume of attendees was shocking. (I typed out “people” but there were a lot of dogs there that were a part of people’s costumes. I saw two different dogs dressed as Dobby.) There are people dressed up in painstakingly detailed handmade costumes. There are people who are wearing decidedly “regular” clothes. There are moms and dads whose kids dragged them. There are moms and dads who dragged their kids. It’s every kind of person who’s a huge fan of something.

But it’s also just hard to move around! I did a coffee run for my fellow booksellers and it took me about 45 minutes. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many people in one building before.

But what about the bookselling?

IMG_2183As you saw in number one, people are happy to look at all of the books! I was surprised that a lot of people had specific books in mind that they wanted to purchase, and other were happy to just see what was new from the publishers. A lot of book buyers were proud of their massive libraries at home. One gentleman told me he had an entire room devoted to only books, and that he was going to have to build a new shelf down the middle of the room soon.

Bookselling at Comic Con is its own special beast because a lot of booths have giveaways, so a lot of folks are expecting some kind of freebie, but there was a buy one get one free promotion that day, so there were several repeat customers. Someone would buy their books, walk away happily, and then come back an hour later to get another pair of books they just couldn’t stop thinking about. Hey, no one is immune to a good deal, especially on the last day of a convention.

People love one-on-one interactions with authors.

The booth I was in had a signing that came with a galley of the author’s forthcoming book. The line got crazy long, crazy fast. I think a couple of people weren’t even sure which author they were about to meet, they were just thrilled by the idea of meeting an author and getting a signed copy of a galley. There were a few tense moments because that’s what happens with long lines in crowded places, but one of the patient book lovers said to me, “People can get mad and leave if they want! At the end of the day it’s all about getting to talk with author face to face, and getting a personalized book. That’s what matters to me.” I think he had the right idea.

And that doesn’t even include the signings that were downstairs in the autographing area. While I didn’t get to witness it myself there were a lot of people waiting to get meet R.L. Stine and get their books signed. One attendee told me that meeting R.L. Stine was the only reason that he came to Comic Con this year.

What else?

Clearly, being an exhibitor made me miss a lot of the excitement of Comic Con. I didn’t get a chance to go to any panels or get any autographs, but it was really awesome to just sit back and take in the magic of it all. A collection of people who really love something specific is thrilling, because they’re all just happy to have a place to proudly show off their love. There’s something really exhilarating about being in a place where everyone is so excited and so happy to belong.

Last Thoughts:

Comfortable shoes must not be underestimated. Comic Con was fun, but was very overwhelming for this first-timer who mostly stayed in the same place the whole time. Portable chargers might actually be magic. Always be nice to security guards. Don’t push in a crowd! Enthusiasm is always a good thing. People really, really love free stuff. All kinds of people love reading (of course).

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