2019 AUTOGRAPH DETAILS
Hello, this is Peter Tatara, founder of Anime NYC. I wanted to write to discuss how and why we have a new system for autographs at Anime NYC this year. But before talking about this year, I want to look a bit at how autographs worked last year…
GENERAL GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2018
In 2018, most American guests signed paid autographs throughout Anime NYC. American guests signed for hours and hours each day, and you simply needed to go to their autograph table and pay for their autograph. There was a cost, but thousands of fans could meet our American guests.
LIMITED GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2018
In 2018, most Japanese guest autographs were offered by free autograph tickets offered first come, first served each morning when doors opened to the convention center. There was no charge for these autograph tickets, but they were very limited in number.
Looking now at this year…
GENERAL GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2019
Nothing’s changed. We heard a lot of positive feedback about the simplicity of our American guest signings in 2018, and we’ve only expanded it this time. There is now a much larger signing area for more American guests. Our paid signing area is now in Hall 3B – part of the Expo Floor – and you’ll be able to meet American guests easily all three days of Anime NYC. Like last year, our American guests will sign for hours and hours and meet thousands of fans.
LIMITED GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2019 – NEEDING A CHANGE
Here’s where we have had to make changes. While last year’s system was simple, there was a major flaw. If we give out autograph tickets first come, first served each morning, the way to guarantee your tickets is to be the first person in line. Fans camped out overnight for tickets last year, and with even more and even bigger guests this year, we can’t continue a system that encourages fans to wait overnight.
How come? If you got an autograph ticket through last year’s system, it worked pretty well for you, but there were a lot of people it didn’t work for at all.
First, a minority of our audience can wait 6 hours, 12 hours, or even longer to get tickets. If you were traveling from outside New York, didn’t get your parents’ permission, had work, or any number of other regular life circumstances, you were shut out of autograph tickets.
Second, I’m just not comfortable having fans wait outside the Javits Center in the early morning or late night in the middle of November. Looking at weather and overall safety, it’s not something Anime NYC could continue.
(Here, I’d like to mention I heard a lot of fans asking us if we could just keep the Javits open 24 hours and do a line inside. We can’t. We researched it. The financials involved with keeping even a part of the building open and keeping security, janitorial, and medical staff there 24 hours are astronomical. It’s not an option we can realistically consider.)
LIMITED GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2019 – PREMIUM PACKAGES
Looking at finding a new system to give out limited autographs, our initial concept was to take the physical line in front of the Javits Center and move it online. Rather than waiting overnight at Anime NYC, we could simply offer autograph tickets first come, first served via our website.
And we did this. And it worked well. Too well. We offered two autograph Premium Packages this year, and both sold out in less than a minute.
Our Premium Package system replaced hours and hours of camping with blink-of-an-eye availability. You no longer needed to wait overnight to get autograph tickets, but if you were a split second late, you missed out entirely. In theory, Premium Packages made autograph tickets more democratic – anyone could try for them from anywhere in the world – but when you factor in variable internet connection speeds around the globe, the playing field became uneven.
So, where are we now?
LIMITED GUEST AUTOGRAPHS IN 2019 – OUR PLAN
We had two major goals in building our final autograph plan for this year. First, we wanted a system that would allow as many fans as possible an even opportunity to access very limited autograph tickets. Second, we wanted a system that would be sustainable with growth. Anime NYC expects 40,000 fans this year, and we want to build a system that will work in the future if we’re fortunate enough to welcome 60,000, 80,000, or even 100,000 fans in the future.
Looking at major events in the pop culture world, especially the largest comic cons, most have moved to a free pre-show lottery system to give out extremely limited autographs.
Anime NYC will also move to a free pre-show lottery system this year.
In this system, fans will have over a week to enter for a chance to win autograph tickets. Each guest will have their own separate lottery. You can enter as few or as many as you’d like. And it doesn’t matter when you enter. You could enter the first day, right in the middle, or in the last hour. All entries will be weighed the same.
After our lottery is over, we will randomly pick winners and contact everyone who entered – whether you won or not.
As each lottery is separate, whether you enter one or more has no bearing on the results. You are not rewarded or penalized for entering to win tickets from more or less guests.
What about security? We’ve thought about this, and here’s what we’re doing to keep this fair. While you can enter multiple lotteries, you cannot enter the same lottery more than once. You MUST enter with your real name, and duplicate entries will be deleted.
This is very important.
If you win, when you come to claim your autograph ticket, you MUST show Photo ID. If your ID does not match the name you submitted online, you cannot claim your ticket. Period. Autograph tickets are non transferable. No exceptions.
Further, our autograph tickets are now wristbands that will be placed on your arm by staff. Do not try to remove your wristband until your signing. If there are any signs of tampering when you arrive for your autograph session, you cannot claim your autograph. Period.
Our lotteries launch on October 25 and wrap on November 5. If you have any questions or thoughts, please let us know at email@example.com.
We believe in this system, but we also must say we can’t guarantee access to autographs from our rarest guests, and no matter what system we create, there will always be fans who are unable to get the autographs desired most. I’m sorry for that. Ultimately, after a great deal of research, we’ve chosen to go forward with this plan as we look back to our goals.
First, we wanted a system that would allow as many fans as possible an even opportunity to access very limited autograph tickets. Second, we wanted a system that would be sustainable with growth.
I and the Anime NYC team believe in this plan. It will allow us to distribute our most limited autograph tickets without any favor and will give more fans than ever an equal chance at more autographs from more guests than ever before.