From the Booking Desk:

This is Part Two in a four-part series of blog posts leading up to Bouchercon. Follow this link to Part One in the series: Countdown to Bouchercon.

In this new post, we are going to discuss BOOKS. Since Bouchercon is a conference devoted to crime fiction, it’s a good bet that you are a fan of reading. While there certainly will be no shortage of books at the conference, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to newbies and veterans alike. So, how does one prepare on the book front?

Books From Home

What books you are able to bring with you from home is going to depend largely on how you are getting to the conference. For the past three years, I have driven to Bouchercon, so that always makes the decision process easier – this translates into “bring everything!” But this year’s event is clear across the country, so I will have to make some tough decisions, as I suspect many others will as well.  Here’s some advice:

  1. If your favorite author is going to be in attendance, make sure you have a copy of at least one of their books to get signed. (Remember in Part One, where I said to closely examine the attendee list? This is another reason for that.)
  2. You may want to get some of the Anthony Award nominated books signed and dated in the year they were eligible.
  3. Determine which authors have new books out that you are going to want to buy and plan to purchase them at Bouchercon. I’ll discuss that in more depth below.
  4. If luggage room is at a premium and you already have books signed by an author, remember that you can still talk to them without getting an autograph. They will understand and appreciate that you have read their book before the conference, even if you can’t lug it across the country with you.
  5. Cooking with CrimespreeYou can also maximize your autographing by getting books that include multiple authors signed. This includes things like The Best American Mystery Stories collections, serial novels written by multiple authors, or even fun collections like the new Cooking with Crimespree – a cookbook with recipes from some of your favorite crime fiction authors.

Free Books

But even if you don’t bring any books with you, you will have plenty of books to get signed. At registration, you will receive a conference bag stuffed with books from various sources. Some of these will be new books not yet released, some will be popular titles from the Guests of Honor, and some will just be random novels of interest to genre fans. The amount of books you get in this bag alone will go a long way towards paying off your registration costs.

And yes, there will be plenty of other opportunities to snag books during the conference. Each Bouchercon is different, but often you will see books distributed at the opening ceremonies, in the hospitality suite at random times, after panels, during panels, at signings, etc. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open for these opportunities.

Buying Books

All of this is to say nothing of the Dealer Room, where you will be stopping often to buy that new-to-you book you just heard about on a great panel. These dealers are here to serve you! They curate their offerings to match the authors and panel topics that are happening at each Bouchercon. Please support them when you can. Many of the stores in the Book Room rely on conferences like Bouchercon to help the bottom line, financially. We all want to keep these bookstores around, so it pays to send some money their way.

As a rule, I try to spread my budget money across various different vendors. That is a personal decision, but you may choose to buy from the local vendors, from the returning vendors, or some combination of both. But please, do try to support them by buying at least a few books from them.

There will also be shipping services on-hand or close by so that you can mail/FedEx/UPS your books home. There will be no need to leave your clothes behind trying to get that book haul home in your suitcases.

Books Via Social Media

In the weeks leading up to the conference, you will see/hear more and more authors talking about things their publishers are doing to help celebrate Bouchercon. Already, I have seen discussions of this sort happening.  (Authors, if you know your publisher is going to have your latest ARC at the conference, why not tweet about it. It will help to generate excitement for the conference AND serves as promotion for you book.)

The point here is that you need to keep your eyes and ears open. If you are not following your favorite authors on social media, you should be. Listen to what industry folks are saying about Bouchercon – authors, publicists, publishers, and book bloggers all have useful information, but none of them have all the information. If you are active on social media during the conference, you will hear a wealth of things that will make your Bouchercon experience even better.  And remember to talk with your fellow conference goers – share your information with them and they are sure to reciprocate.


Another great tip is to find the book trading table(s). Folks are going to get a lot of books they are not interested in. There is usually a table set up where you can “leave a book, take a book.” By the end of the conference, these tables are usually stacked full of books, so you should not be shy about taking something that is of interest to you. Try to be conscious of your fellow conference-goers by not over-indulging, but everyone wants to get these books into the hands of the people who will enjoy them. At the same time, leave those books you are not really invested in so that others who might enjoy them can obtain a copy.

You can also trade books with your new-found friends. By telling each other what books we received, we will all know what books are circulating around the conference. You won’t be able to get everything (nor will you want to), but you’ll be surprised with what you are able to secure simply by knowing what you are looking for.

This brings me to yet another tip. Don’t leave books that you want to hold on to lying around unguarded. Believe me when I tell you, they won’t be there for long, if you do. 😉 No one is going to steal your books, but folks may think they are up for grabs if they are just lying around.

Bouchercon is a unique experience – you will be surrounded by like-minded people who love books, and crime fiction in particular. Celebrate that and remember you are here to have a good time. If you miss an author’s scheduled signing, don’t hesitate to ask them for an autograph at another appropriate time – they want to meet you! And make sure to be open to the discovery of new-to-you authors. If you enjoy your chat with an author as you are both waiting for a panel to begin, you just might also enjoy their books.

If you have heard of a particular giveaway of interest, feel free to leave a comment below. Let me know below or via social media if you are finding these tips helpful and if there is anything in particular you would like to see discussed. Then stop back again next week for Countdown to Bouchercon, Part 3.