ALA 2013 – The Exhibits! aka: Books, Books, Books!

In my summing-up of ALA 2013 in Chicago, I’ve gotten to Friday night, when the Exhibits open! The haiku I wrote later in the conference (above) for a contest about sums it up.

I try to restrain myself, honest, I do! Then I fail. But it’s so much fun grabbing free books, that failure is reinforced.

I should admit that I have a doctor’s excuse to bring a wheeled cart onto the exhibit floor. So when sheer weight would normally have slowed me down, I was still going.

Though the congestion was awful, especially on opening night. There is no room for wheeled carts, and I got lots of dirty looks. And bumped lots of people, while trying not to.

Before the opening, Shannon Hale had tweeted that an ARC of her book DANGEROUS was available at booth 2107. So I was chanting to myself, “2107… 2107…” But then I overshot the booth and had to try to go back upstream. Then they weren’t giving them out until 6:30. At about 6:10, I made it back to the booth, and I decided I’d just camp there for 20 minutes, because it was too hard to maneuver — and they decided to give me one early to get rid of me! :)

I admit. In the frenzy, I started indiscriminately grabbing what I could reach. Here’s the pile when I got back to the hotel:

I feel a little sheepish about how many I grabbed. Yes, I *know* I won’t get them all read. But I want to, does that count? Also, we’ve started a couple of programs where we give lots of books to kids as prizes (and they think they’re getting away with something!), and these will help supply some cool prizes.

The five books I’m most excited about are:

Dangerous, by Shannon Hale (Already read! Worth the excitement!)
Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein (Already read! Worth the excitement!)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black (ARC signed by the author)
The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
The Autistic Brain, by Temple Grandin (This one’s a published hardcover I purchased for $10 and had signed by the author.)

Usually I’m a sucker for low-price books at ALA as well, but this year I only spent $12 on books, including that $10 on Temple Grandin’s book. Of course, I spent more than $100 to ship them home, but that was for, yes, 88 books. I think of the shipping cost as part of the cost of the conference.

And did I mention the Exhibits are fun? Okay, Opening night is probably more crowded than I usually like to deal with, but it is really fun to look at the publisher booths, where they highlight the recent books that have received stars or awards, and show off upcoming titles. There’s lots of excitement in the air. You also have many authors throughout the exhibit hall signing their books. So you meet publishing folks, authors, other librarians. It’s exciting and fun, though probably more fun later in the conference, when it quiets down a little bit.

After the exhibits, I took a shuttle back to the hotel. The worst thing about ALA this year? The long distance from the convention center to the hotels. I did have trouble with motion sickness (probably from having my balance center of my brain damaged by a stroke a couple years ago), and the bus rides were not fun. But that evening, I’d been invited to a Walden Pond Press cocktail party at a hotel in walking distance.

The cocktail party was fun — one of those things where it’s hard to hear anybody else, but I did meet a few nice librarians, the featured authors, and some other authors who had come. Other librarians talk about all their different publisher events they attend. Walden Pond Press was the first one to ever invite me to one last year, and they did again this year, and it’s fun to be part of something like that. The preconference was done, I’d hit the exhibits, and I was ready for a wonderful ALA Annual Conference!

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