Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thoughts on my Brief Time at ALA

Oh my gosh, y'all.

The Exhibits at ALA were so awesome... and so exhausting. I don't know how people have the energy for the entire conference (but someday I will find out!). Alas, I forgot my camera, but I'll have some pictures when J gets home and gets hers uploaded.

It was definitely a whirlwind trip and I didn't get to meet up with nearly as many people as I wanted to. I had the pleasure of staying at a good friend's house and the pleasure of attending the exhibits with four lovely ladies. I want to give a shout-out to Wendy of Six Boxes of Books and Sarah of Green Bean Teen Queen, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting. I spied Susan of Wizards Wireless and Booklights getting her picture taken with some storm troopers, but before I could flag her down, she was off and I was getting my own picture taken. ;) I saw Anastasia Suen at the Sourcebooks booth (she was very excited about Horrid Henry's Christmas) and spotted Roger Sutton a couple of times (both times in conversation with other, important-looking people). I also spotted John Green not once but three separate times. And how many times could I think of anything to say to him? Zero. Yeah. Gonna work on that one, as he'll be at the CYPD conference at the end of August.

Ahem. /name dropping

What can I say about the exhibits? I knew it would be huge, but I guess I didn't expect to be quite so crowded. I also didn't expect publicists to be so very friendly!

My friends and I were at McCormick place by 8:30 or so and we checked in and gathered to wait until they opened the exhibits. We made a beeline for the Scholastic booth first thing to find out if they had ARCs of Catching Fire (they did!) and J ended up being first in line. We waited about half an hour and they started giving out ARCs at 9:30 or so. I don't know how many they gave out, but I was told that they'd be giving out more as the conference went on.

After that, our day was pretty much made already, and everything else was gravy. (If gravy was made of AWESOME, that is!)

I was prepared with a list of the ARCs I wanted to look for, complete with pub info and booth numbers. Yes, laugh at me for I am a huge geek, but that list came in handy and I ended up getting almost everything on my list. Publicists were all extremely friendly and happy to hand over whatever ARCs they had available. I won't title-drop too much (and most of my books are in the process of being mailed to me anyway), but highlights include Stitches by David Small, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (who was there signing, so I got copies of her other books as well!), and As You Wish by Jackson Pearce.

Before leaving for Chicago, I revisited Susan's tips for BEA, which came in handy. I can't emphasize enough how useful my ARC list was. After awhile, all the booths blend together a little bit and it's really handy to have your reference right there. Plus, they might not be displaying the book that you want and it's easy to forget if it's not right there in front of you.

I also can't emphasize enough how friendly everyone was. I was a little nervous about knowing which books were okay to take and which they were selling. It's generally very clearly marked, and if you're not sure, just ask. If you see a display copy of a book you want, ask if they have one you could have. 90% of the time yesterday, the answer was yes and I walked away with a book.

Next time I go (and there will be a next time, yes there will), I'll hopefully remember to hand out the pretty business cards I had made. It was all too overwhelming for me to think about it yesterday, but now I really wish I had. Also, I'll remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint. You don't have to pick up every single book in the first hour you're there. And sometimes the publishers will put out different books at different times. Or they might have a certain number of ARCs for the first day and then give out more on the following days.

I was really hoping to get down to Anderson's for Laurie Halse Anderson's & Sarah Dessen's book signing, but by the time we got back from the exhibits we were all about ready to drop. After flying in the night before, I left the house at 6:30am and then carried around a freakin' heavy bag of stuff all day. Seriously, we would have driven off the road in our exhaustion, which would not have been a good end to the day. So, apologies for missing that!

I so wish I could have stayed longer. It would have been wonderful to be able to go to some of the programs and to meet up with more library friends and bloggity people. Hopefully next year I will be able to go for longer. But it was wonderful to get to go, even just for one day!