ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for over a quarter of a century, has announced this Tuesday that they would be “retiring” the event. Thousands of published authors gathered each year to sell books, showcase upcoming titles, socialize with colleagues and interact with publishing houses. However, with the current pandemic, the fate of the largest annual book trade fair in the United States is in the air. Unfortunately, BookExpo is not the only ReedPop event that’s to be retired next year, as BookCon, the annual fan-based convention established in 2014 in New York City, will also be put on hiatus.
According to a statement made by ReedPop event director, Jennifer Martin:
“The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need. This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.”
Unfortunately, BookExpo has already been steadily losing money for some time now. Originally founded as the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show in 1947 (a mouthful, I know), the event has been held each year in major cities all across the county. Yet, over the past decade it has been held almost exclusively in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center as New York publishers looked to cut costs. Even then, how much space was purchased on the showroom floor was greatly reduced, as was the provided lunches and other promotional events.
To make matters worse, BookExpo 2020 was hosted virtually to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which highlighted doubts as to whether in-person gatherings boosted sales, for the market has allegedly been stable despite the current pandemic. Such a prime venue for upcoming authors to break into the publishing world would be dearly missed, yet that doesn’t mean that they’ll be completely thrown to the wolves, as other industry meetings, such as regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association, continue.
According to the Financial Times, the retirement of both BookExpo and BookCon come in the wake of reports of having left, or plan to leave, parent company, Reed Exhibitions, by the end of the year. Regardless, having these two events end as we’ve known them is sad news for both aspiring authors and book lovers.