ALA. So many people! So many books!

So, one of the perks of being an author is going to book-related conferences to take in all the books and book people. Probably the largest are the bi-annual American Library Association conferences. In the past decade or so, they’ve averaged 20,000 attendees. It’s exhilarating and exhausting. So many people! So many books! Too many people! Too many books!

This year, fellow blogger Laura Kvasnosky and I, attended the American Library Association conference here in Seattle, Jan. 25-29. We never made it past the “floor.” An exhibition hall of some 300 booths for publishers and library services companies. Somehow these kind of things, from BookExpo to SCBWI conferences, sort of unfold in the same way.

It starts out big and overwhelming.

But usually before you get far, you run into someone you know.

Kirby Larson and Laura Kvasnosky

And then more people that you know.

Kirby Larson, Rebecca Van Slyke, Kevan Atteberry, Laura Kvasnosky

Finally, you move on. The first thing, of course, if you’re recently published is to find your own publisher’s booth and check out your own books.

Sometimes your own latest book doesn’t seem to be getting the love it deserves.

The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael

But they did make these up to hand out to librarians based on one of your prior books.

Placard based on art from “A Library Book for Bear”

It’s not clear if it’s a good thing or bad that the actual book has walked away with someone.

It’s true the publishers give out advanced reading copies (ARCs) hoping to create buzz with librarians, but ARCs are usually clearly displayed and marked. Still someone loves it enough to steal it, so that’s good, right?

Some author friends are signing books.

Martha Brockenbrough signing “Unpresidented”

Some authors have long lines and are apparently starring in something.

Nikki McClure

The longest line you see all day is for a graphic novelist you haven’t heard of. You  begin to feel a little old-school; you begin to wonder vaguely why you aren’t signing books. Fortunately before you go too far down that road, you run into more friends and take a break sharing galleys and ARCs, gossip and woes.

Claire Meeker gesturing on the right, the back of Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Jane Kurtz and Nancy Werlin were in the group earlier.

Everyone crabs a bit about their agents, editors and the industry, because that’s just what you do. And you remember why you love being a published author. Oh, the joy of being able to crab about agents, editors and the industry.

You check out more booths, more books and meet more friends…

SCBWI booth. That’s Wendy Wahman on the front right.

You wish you’d gone to the SCBWI party later that afternoon.

But, you were ready to head home, put up your tired feet and start looking through the ARCs you picked up–the best part of all.

7 responses to “ALA. So many people! So many books!

  1. And if you wander into the wrong area (as I, directionally challenged, am wont to do) you end up with somebody trying to sell you an automated book return system. He seemed lonely and bored and I didn’t have the heart to reveal that I don’t have a library budget behind me. But you’re right. Friends and ARC’s, that’s what it’s all about.

  2. What a delightful – and honest – rendition of “tale of true ALA experience.” Yes, the ARC’s, being back at home, browsing through all the beautiful new about-to-be-books. Thank you!

  3. Oh Bonny, I felt so connected to your time at ALA, almost as good as being there! Thank you for the photos and narrative that brought me along. And, by the way, I want to read that book you chose to bring home. I will be lookin for it. And, for Bear, let’s hope he just took a little break. Maybe the crowds were too much for him.

  4. Hi Bonny, (I am posting twice)…lost first one somewhere…so sorry if two turn up.
    I am so happy that you took us along on your narrated tour of ALA. I missed going and now feel “in” the moment. Your photos and chat did the trick. And, sorry about Bear going missing, maybe he just couldn’t handle the crowd. PS: I have my eye on that book in your lap…Helen captured the life of a small child with such richness and honesty.
    I was so happy to find the live streaming of the awards. Perhaps it is recorded to view again.
    Thank you.

  5. It’s a delightful book coming out from Candlewick. It’s full of Oxenbury’s illustrations. No one does little children like she does! I like the idea of Bear taking a break at ALA!

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