In a struggling economy and changing book publishing and buying landscape, BEA (Book Expo America) the industry’s largest book trade show tried something new this year to breathe fresh life into the event. BEA added a consumer day to the final day of the show. They named this event BookCon and opened it to the reading public.
For $30 individuals could purchase tickets to attend BookCon (similar idea to the existing Comic-Con show). This final day of BEA show featured authors appearance, book giveaways, and other events for book lovers. The event was so successful that BEA had to cap the attendance at 10,000 individuals. As a result, they are looking to add an additional day to BookCon next year at the end of BEA for a three-day trade show and then a two-day BookCon event.
Interestingly, a number of years ago (I think 2009) ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) attempted a similar event. This event, Christian Book Expo, was held in Dallas. It turned out to be a complete flop.
I wonder if CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, will attempt a similar idea for the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in the next few years. After all, CBA generally follows BEA’s lead. For example, a couple years ago, BEA added a conference for self-published authors, uPublishU. CBA then added a conference to ICRS for self-published authors, Author BootCamp.
In a struggling industry with fewer Christian retail stores and larger consolidation of publishers (leaving fewer publishers to exhibit), CBA will have to do something to try to reinvigorate a trade show that has shrunk considerably since its heyday in the 1990s. It would not surprise me at all to see CBA attempt an event similar to BookCon with ICRS.
However, should CBA add a consumer day, I think getting the numbers would be more of a challenge as the Christian subset is a smaller portion of the reading public. I am sure holding the event in New York City helped boost BookCon’s attendance. ECPA felt Dallas was the right city to hold their Christian Book Expo in due to the high numbers of Christians in the city, yet the people did not show up.
Do you think CBA should add a consumer day to the International Christian Retail Show (a BookCon for Christian consumers)? If so, what city do you think would draw the biggest Christian reading crowd?