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Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Guy Berkeley Breathed, creator of Bloom County, signs books at Book Expo America 2016 | Melanie Votaw Photo
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Guy Berkeley Breathed, creator of Bloom County, signs books at Book Expo America 2016 | Melanie Votaw Photo

Book Expo America and BookCon, annual events held concurrently for the book publishing industry and fans alike, were held in Chicago last week at McCormick Place. BEA and BookCon are usually held in New York, where they tend to attract more big authors and stars from movies and TV. But Chicago had its share as well.

Jamie Lee Curtis was on hand to discuss her upcoming children’s book, as was Kenny Loggins, who has written a children’s book called “Footloose.” Loggins gave a performance at the Quarto Publishing Group booth. Guy Berkeley Breathed, the creator of “Bloom County,” drew a long line of fans wanting a signed book.

Attendees stand in line to get a signed copy of a book | Melanie Votaw Photo
Attendees stand in line to get a signed copy of a book | Melanie Votaw Photo

At past BEA’s, I have attended signings or appearances by Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Jane Lynch, Billy Crystal, Bill Maher, Jim Gaffigan, John Grisham, Jon Stewart, and numerous others. Now that there’s BookCon, fans can get in on the excitement and also meet some of their favorites.

This year’s BookCon in Chicago attracted Samantha Bee, Chris O’Dowd, Meg Cabot, Sabaa Tahir, Veronica Roth, and Tig Notaro, among others.

One of the most fun aspects of BEA and BookCon is the opportunity to get free signed books. Publishing houses set up booths, and many signings are held there, while others are done in a special signing section where the authors sit at tables, where fans stand in line to get their signed copies.

A presentation at Book Expo America | Melanie Votaw Photo
A presentation at Book Expo America | Melanie Votaw Photo

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to meet and discover authors you haven’t heard of before. My colleague, Fred Minnick, for example, signed his new book, “Bourbon Curious,” also at the Quarto booth, and gave out free bourbon samples.

Next year, the events will be back at Javits Center in New York. BEA will be held May 31, June 1 and 2, 2017. BookCon will be held June 2 and 3.

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