Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Major Book Convention?

With the Book Expo of America in full swing right now while I sit at home eating cupcakes for breakfast, I can’t help but wonder: why are there never any book conventions in Canada?

So I typed “Canadian book convention”, and other similar word combinations, into Google and not a lot came up. A lot of the book conventions we have are for local authors – in fact, the Toronto Romance Writers event is happening this Saturday. And I mean, that’s cool, I totally agree with supporting local authors!

But the book conventions I’m talking about are the massive 3 day events that the US has all the time, with hundreds of New York Times bestselling authors doing signings, meet n’ greets, and giveaways, as well as bookish-merch sellers and their booths! I’m talking events as big as BEA/Bookcon and Yallfest.

I swear like once a month there is another bookish event that popular bloggers/vloggers are attending, and I’ll admit that I’m super envious. I can never go to these events because:

A. School/work

B. The distance

C. Money

Now, in theory I might be able to meet authors at events like Fan Expo or Comic Con, but those events aren’t made specifically for authors and readers, and there’s never really any guarantee that authors you’ll know and want to meet will be there.

And so, again I ask: Why aren’t there any book conventions in Canada?

I’ve asked this on my booklr before, and someone responded with “Because they (whoever they is) don’t think that there’s a market for book conventions here.”

What, you think Canadians don’t read?

Let me tell you, I know a lot of Canadian book lovers, and I highly doubt that I’ve met them all. We’re all across this place! Plus, it’s not even like we lack the resources; we have a lot of very nice convention centres, if I do say so myself, which could easily work for a large book convention. I swear we have the audience and the resources, we just need someone to give us a chance to host!

Honestly there are so many good things that can come from having a book convention (or two) here, including (but not limited to):

  1. Tourism. BEA draws in people from all across America AND Canada AND other parts of the world, so imagine what it would do in a Canadian city! Many people in Canada haven’t even explored this beautiful country, let alone people outside of it, so the people who would hypothetically come to this event could catch a glimpse of some of our coolest or prettiest cities, like Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, etc. It would be very good not just for the convention itself, but also for local shops, restaurants, and attractions.
  2. Authors. Popular American authors don’t often come to Canada for book signings and tours. When I saw that Chapters was doing a signing with Kiera Cass I was surprised and very excited (although sad that I couldn’t go). Imagine all the fans here who have never met their favourite authors before, finally getting to line up at a Canadian bookcon and getting to talk to Sarah J Maas, or Renée Ahdieh, or Matt Haig, or Rick Riordan, etc. My first author signing (which I’ll talk about in a future post) was very exciting, and I 10/10 would recommend everyone meet their favourite author. Some authors, too, could get the chance to see parts of Canada that they may have never seen before, especially since they don’t come here often.
  3. Inspire Reading. If They really think that there isn’t a big-enough market for a bookcon in Canada, then maybe holding one will help build the market! Through advertisements, word of mouth, and people dragging their parents/siblings/significant others/friends to the bookcon, people could (re)discover a love for reading that was either dormant or kept hidden.
  4. Business. Bookish businesses could reach more of their audience with a bookcon here. They can finally connect with those Canadian consumers who haven’t been able to purchase online due to the cost of shipping (and our nasty Dollar), and maybe gain some new loyal customers!
  5. Friendship. I little cliché, but honestly seeing photos of bloggers meeting their friends from across the country at book conventions makes me so happy. I would love to be able to meet my blogger friends from Canada (and from the US), and I can think of no better reason to meet than for a convention!

That’s all I’ve got right now, though I’m sure there are many more reasons.

And I know the same question can be asked by people from every other country in the world, and I agree that everyone, no matter the country, deserves the chance to go to a book convention! I think my frustration comes from the fact that we’re literally just above the US, and if we can both host huge events like Comic Con (which is in both San Diego and Toronto, among other places), then why can’t we host extensions of BEA or Yallfest here?

TL;DR: BRING THE CANADIAN READERS THE BOOK CONVENTIONS THEY WANT/DESERVE.

Thanks for reading! Have you got any opinions on this? Let’s talk about it (civilly, please) in the comments!

~ Becca

P.S. If you know of a major book convention in Canada that Google has failed to report to me, I would love to know!

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6 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Major Book Convention?

  1. We had the Inspire event a couple of years ago, but I agree, that’s pretty much been it. It’s disappointing because I was looking forward to a second year of Inspire (that wasn’t so taken over by a certain retailer and focused more on independent book sellers and publishers) but then they sent out a mass email letting people know they’d sold the event to someone else. Since then I’ve heard nothing.

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  2. Great post! I definitely think there’s a market, when they brought the Fierce Reads authors & Penguin Teen authors to Toronto the event was packed! I think the closest they have to an event like BEA is the OLA super conference usually held in January or February. It’s more targeted to librarians and school teachers though. I’ve never been because it’s really expensive & I think they have really specific rules when it comes to signings. There’s also the Festival of Trees, but that’s more smaller & I’ve never heard of a NYT-type author attending – although some are bestselling authors like Eric Walters.

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  3. Someone just retweeted your post onto my Twitter timeline and I just had to read your thoughts! I completely agree with everything you said, I actually know more Canadian bloggers/bookworms than any other country, and we would all so benefit from a major book convention. I long to attend BEA one day, but it’s just not realistic 😦 There is a huge market for books over here as I have seen over and over again at book signings, so I think that a convention would draw in a lot of people.

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  4. Yessss. I keep hearing about BEA and YallWest and asked about conferences in Canada and not only was it a small amount, but there weren’t any major YA/Children’s authors. I feel a bit ripped off actually. Authors come to book signings here, so why not a conference?

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  5. There’s definitely a huge market for it. But I believe getting American authors here would be a lot harder to do, so the book events like Word on the Street and OLA (Ontario Library Association) is more for Canadian authors only. And rightly so, but readers like us would love a BEC Book Expo Canada lol

    OLA is in January and most people don’t know about it because it’s more for librarians and teachers but you can get an exhibit pass only $40. I’ve been twice and it’s fun! You get to talk to authors and publishers. They also have ARCS.

    Thanks for writing this post, it’s true we don’t have a big annual event but we really should.

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