A Booktopian’s Wrap of the 2015 Australian Romance Reader’s Convention

by |March 9, 2015

On Friday Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach (yours truly) made our way to Canberra in the name of romance.

The 2015 Australian Romance Reader’s Convention was on over the weekend with hundreds of devoted Romance readers descending upon our nation’s capital to chat about the love of love.

Australia’s favourite romance authors were there as well, folks like Kylie Scott, Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Amy Andrews, Cathryn Hein and Rachael Johns, joined by international superstars Sylvia Day, Nalini Singh, Kelley Armstrong and Victoria Dahl.

Booktopia were sponsors of the event for a 3rd time. We loaded up the car with goodies and set off on a road trip brimming with sensuality.

A blissful drive was ruined by the distressing amount of roundabouts that needed to be negotiated before getting to our hotel. At one stage the phrase ‘not this roundabout, the big roundabout running around this roundabout’ was shouted. Already the trip had a distinct Griswold vibe to it.

After several minutes of frantic lane changing and finger pointing, we arrived at our destination, and joined some early bird romance devotees for a drink and a chat, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. John and I selflessly ate most of the canapés. And then it was time for bed, a big day was around the corner.

Waking early to a sky of hot air balloons, we pinched a trolley and loaded it with free books, gift hampers and lots and lots of lollies, heading to the convention hall to set up our booth and waiting for the lovers of love to arrive, and they didn’t disappoint. Hundreds piled into the space, keen to chat about all things bookish and Booktopia. It was exhilaratingly exhausting, and we couldn’t get enough of it, talking books all day, in-between bagels and coffee, of course.

The stage was set for a HUGE author signing event in the afternoon, a logistical effort that hurts my head thinking about, the folks at the ARRA doing an incredible job.

As Saturday wound to a close, it was time to suit up and head to the Romance Readers Awards, a swank affair with a Great Gatsby theme. Some of the efforts were remarkable, the room swelling with excitement as the night kicked off.

The big winner for the night was Kylie Scott, taking home awards for Favourite Cover, Favourite Continuing Romance Series, and the big award, Australia’s Favourite Romance Author, presented by Booktopia!

Other award winners were Rachael Johns, Alli Sinclair, Nalini Singh, Ilina Andrews, Kelly Hunter, Anne Gracie, Helene Young and the writing team of Rhian Cahill, Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee and Sami Lee.

The rest of the night consisted of drinking, dancing, the famous ‘bling off’ competition, and posing with a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Fabio. Pretty standard.

Sunday was the final day of the convention, some dusty heads and bleary eyes greeting us for our morning coffee, with a little sadness that the weekend was almost over. In the afternoon we opened the floodgates and gave away all the merchandise we’d brought down. And by 4pm, as bestselling author Sylvia Day commenced her closing address, we were packing up our booth, sad to say goodbye to a great weekend for book nerds like us. The opportunity to talk to readers and authors is one we never pass up.

Thanks to everyone at this year’s Australian Romance Readers Convention, from the organisers, to the authors and of course the readers. The weekend was a joy, and left us in no doubt that  reports of the demise of the book, and the death of romance, are greatly exaggerated.

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog and was shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat

Love Romance? Check out our Romance at Booktopia Facebook page!


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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

Follow Andrew: Twitter


  • Malvina

    March 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks so much for your sponsorship for ARRC, and all the conversations and giveaways. It’s nice to know that you guys ‘get’ romance fiction, and support it so well. Nice to meet you, too. Just putting it out there that you have always given me great service, efficient and speedy, with good prices. Keep it up! And congratulations on your new warehouse. (I’m the one that commented to you about driving past it the other day, goggling at the size.) Cheers!

  • March 9, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I was so sorry to miss ARRC this year! Thrilled you all had such a blast!

  • March 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I was at the event and it was truly fantastic! There’s something magical about being in a room ful of people who simply love to read and speak a communal language because of that. Even more so when it’s romance that we are all talking about.

    Much like you guys we also got lost on the roundabouts and were yelling pretty much the exact same thing as we could see the hotel but were heading in the opposite direction!

  • helensibbritt

    March 9, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Huge congrats to the organizers and thank you very much to the sponsors woohoo a great weekend ☺

  • March 17, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you so much Booktopia for the fantastic book prize that I won at the end of the ARRA conference!!!:) Was very happy that I went home loaded up with so many books I had to pay excess baggage!!!!:)

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