BookExpo and NY Rights Fair Move to July in New York City: Coronavirus Update

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A day after the largest house of the Big Five, Penguin Random House, announced its withdrawal from the 2020 BookExpo and BookCon, the shows’ organizers have moved the dates from May to July.

At BookExpo 2019, the Jacob Javits Center’s Crystal Pavilion with publishers’ book banners. Image: Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘We Have You in Mind’
Apparently, Penguin Random House’s withdrawal on Wednesday was the handwriting that Reed Exhibitions and ReedPop needed to see on the glass walls of the Javits Center.

Organizers late today (March 19) have announced that they will move the industry-facing trade show BookExpo—with its New York Rights Fair expected to again be part of it—to new dates in July. The much larger public-facing BookCon is to move, as well, in an attempt to duck the gathering onslaught of the coronavirus COVID-19 in New York City.

New dates, announced after business hours today:

  • BookExpo’s conference day: July 22
  • BookExpo’s earlier reduced two-day exhibition floor dates: July 23 and 24
  • BookCon’s traditional follow-up weekend for the public: July 25 and 26

The program is still scheduled for the Jacobs K. Javits Center at 11th Avenue and West 24th—which New York City officials are considering for use as an emergency hospital facility in the city’s looming medical battle with the virus, as has been confirmed tonight on CNN’s Outfront in an interview with Erin Burnett.

Written as a message “to our BookExpo, UnBound & BookCon community,” the company writes, “Booksellers, librarians, authors, publishers, fans, and everyone passionate about this industry are what make these events so special. At every step and with every decision, we have you in mind, so it’s our responsibility to make sure that your health and safety come first at all times.”

Crowd Size Restrictions

“After many hours of conversation,” today’s message reads, “we have decided to postpone BookExpo, UnBound, and BookCon from May to July 22-26 at the Javits Center. We have been closely monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York and around the country. Following the guidance of health officials, we are now complying with the state’s request that large gatherings be postponed to ensure the well-being of everyone involved with our event.”

As many read the directives of Albany and Gracie Mansion, it may seem that New York state and New York City have ordered, rather than requested, that large gatherings be canceled or postponed.

The March 13 directive of Bill de Blasio, the city’s mayor, reads in part, “Existing and future standalone events with attendance exceeding over 500 persons, including parades, sports events, performances, races, and rallies are canceled until further notice. Programming will also be canceled at indoor venues with consistent seating capacity over 500.” And on March 16, the state issued a much sharper restriction, the governor Andrew Cuomo working in concert with his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut to “ban” crowds over 50 people, as reported here by Nerw York City’s NBC flagship outlet. That state cap of crowd size at 50 is in force “for as long as necessary to protect public health.”

De Blasio today announced in a press conference that the city is two to three weeks from running out of the medical supplies it must have, including 3 million N95  masks, 50 million surgical masks, 15,000 ventilators (breathing machines), and 25 million gowns, sets of gloves, and coveralls.

‘Our Hearts Go Out’

The remainder of the Reed notice reads;

“Our hearts go out to our entire community, every individual person and business impacted by the COVID-19 virus, and all of you who rely on and look forward to this event each year. From authors who have had to cancel book tours, to bookstores who have made difficult and courageous choices to keep their customers and employees safe. We stand with you and we will do everything we can in the coming weeks to highlight your work, so that as a community we can come together and support you.

“Please note that all attendee registration and tickets for the May events will be automatically transferred over to the July dates, no action is required on your part. If you have questions, please reach out to our customer service team.

“To all of our fans and customers – we are committed to giving you the best BookExpo, UnBound and BookCon you’ve ever seen this summer.”

The message is signed by the show’s director, Jennifer Martin.

The references to “Unbound” in the messaging are to the non-book show of novelties that BookExpo included in 2019 for the first time, utilizing floor space at the southern end of the exhibition hall, which has been unused in recent years by publishing exhibitors.


More from Publishing Perspectives the coronavirus outbreak is here. More from us on BookExpo is here.

Download your free copy of our Spring Magazine here

In our Spring 2020 Magazine, Publishing Perspectives has interviewed publishers, industry experts, entrepreneurs, and authors to present a look at the book business for the coming year. Inside this issue of Publishing Perspectives Magazine, you’ll find articles and resources including:

  • Publishing and the coronavirus
  • Richard Charkin’s view of key industry challenges
  • China’s growing comic book market
  • Brussels Book Fair debuts its rights center
  • Eksmo CEO Evgeny Kapyev on Russia’s book market
  • Matchmaking for publishers and producers in Latin America
  • Book market data
  • A world tour of copyright developments
  • Translation sales resulting from Norway’s Frankfurter Buchmesse guest of honor program
  • An AI startup creating interactive stories
  • An interview with author Andrew Keen

Download ‘Publishing in Times of Crisis’ free of charge here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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