Program Book

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The Program Book (PB), Pocket Program, Souvenir Book, Conbook[1] and Program Grids and Pink Sheets are all convention publications meant to convey information about the program, convention policies, even details of local restaurants, when they are not in a separate guide and other things happening during the event.

In the Early Days, the Program Book (Programme Book in the UK) was a publication distributed at registration that listed the convention's program schedule and other useful information (such as, perhaps, biographies of the GoHs).

Today, conventions are beginning to drop some or all of this printed matter in favor of online materials or apps. Except for a souvenir book, Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, did all of its publications online, spread across a myriad of applications.

Pocket Program[edit]

As conventions grew larger and the program expanded, it became difficult get the program finalized far enough in advance of the con to permit inexpensive printing of a fancy program book, and too expensive to print it once the program was final. Additionally, the program book (now often containing articles, ads and even sometimes fiction) was too cumbersome to conveniently carry through the whole convention. Conventions responded by printing a “pocket program” (in the UK, a ReadMe[2]) at the last minute using inexpensive repro technology and lesser typographical values than the (often fancy) program book.

Souvenir Book[edit]

Starting with Noreascon Three, some conventions began calling the Program Book the “souvenir book,” which, perhaps, better reflected its new function: a large publication full of goh and program participants’ bios, articles and other natter, but not necessarily listing the program. (And many congoers leave it in the hotel room to read after they get home.) Some cons are now producing them after the con, with photographs and conreps, even the final accounts.

Because a pocket program must be printed at the last minute (the program continues to change right up to the convention as program participants drop in or out of the program) it is usually typeset simply and printed cheaply. Later changes are notified using newsletters, “pink sheets”[3] or online and in mobile phone apps by program ops to list the changes which had to be made to the day's schedule as printed in the Pocket Program.

Program Grids[edit]

“Program grids,” meanwhile, display the program schedule in an abbreviated format meant to make it easy to see what different events are all happening at the same time.

As conventions increasingly turn to online publishing to save costs and convey information quickly, it can become confusing and overwhelming to congoers to figure out what’s where. Chicon 8 in 2022, for example, had a printed souvenir book; a pdf pocket program distributed only online; an online program app; printed program grids passed out only on request at the Information Desk; a multi-page website including a weblog convention newsletter; a Facebook page; a separate Facebook group; plus Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Airmeet accounts, with some of the program virtual only, some live only and some mixed.


  1. In Australia
  2. The ReadMe name comes from “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” in Lewis Carroll.
  3. Pink sheets were introduced by Noreascon Three and printed on pink paper and came to be referred to as a “pink sheet” even when they aren't.

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