by KT Pinto
November 18–20, 2011
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
For many years, there have been three reasons why I always liked going to Philcon:
1. The location. Originally in Philly, which was easy enough to get to from NYC, but now it’s in a hotel in the more easily accessible Cherry Hill, NJ.
2. The panels. A lot of literature panels, a lot of professionals, a lot of different topics, a lot of intellectual conversations. What more can one want?
3. The people. Three generations of fandom walk the halls of Philcon, and it’s safe to say that they are some of the friendliest geeks on the convention circuit.
All of these things are great if you are an attendee of the con. But when you are going to the convention for business reasons, that isn’t enough to make the grade. There were a few issues this year…
Programming. The programming for many of the professionals was not only finalized with very little time to spare, but the individual schedules were also very sparse. Panels are many authors’ and artists’ bread and butter; it gets them noticed, and gives them a chance to promote their work. Two panels for some—which is nothing for a three-day convention—while others had eight or nine panels left the sour taste of favoritism in the air. There was also a disregard for requests such as time restrictions and moderator requests. For example, Dr. James Prego asked to not have any panels before 11am, and did not want to moderate. Out of his three panels, he had 10 am panels on both Saturday and Sunday, and was slated to moderate on Sunday’s panel.
The Dealers’ Room. Along with programming, professionals have to have a good experience in the Dealers’ Room to make a convention worthwhile. Although the convention cannot be held responsible for the lack of buyers, they do have to consider how the attitudes of the staff members in the Dealers’ Room may affect the professionals (making one feel like they’re a bother is not the way to go when dealing with people), and from an author’s perspective, having the room saturated with used-book dealers makes it that much more difficult for small press authors to sell their wares. It doesn’t seem like the convention—which is supposed to be pro-literature—took this into consideration at all when planning out who was going to be vending.
Would I go back to Philcon again? Definitely.
As a panelist? Maybe. Minor changes need to happen for that.
As a vendor? Not unless there is a complete overhaul…