I went to the American Library Association annual conference last week, and it was AMAZING. I had such a good time! I really enjoyed meeting librarians, authors, bloggers, and publishers, and I got some really good books to read in the upcoming months.
ALA was an interesting experience after doing BEA– while both are centered around books and book people, BEA is a lot more obvious about the marketing/promotion side of book publishing. ALA is more about the books themselves– as well as librarians, of course. At BEA (in 2011, anyway) there was this energy of “what can you do for me?” and at ALA is felt more like “hey, let’s talk books.” Just my opinion, of course, and I probably only think that because I only dipped into the “business” side of the exhibit hall1. Mostly I stayed in the publisher/book side, since that’s what I was most interested in.
There weren’t actually all that many bloggers there, though I met a good dozen or so in the signing lines (including Darla, Sandy, Kaitlyn, Cameron, Danielle and Amy). Almost everyone I saw was either library-related or non-publishing related, by which I mean they were just students or something. I only ever saw maybe three people act badly, but then again I almost always stayed away from the paranormal romance things, which for some reason seem to attract trouble.
I met quite a few nice non-bloggers! Several of them turned out to be from California, too, so hopefully we’ll run into each other again at another book event. And two people even gave me things I’d wanted but didn’t get in time (a book and a swag item), without me asking! I love book people.
The publishers were SO. NICE. Only one of them gave me a side-eye when she saw I was a blogger, but everyone else was WONDERFUL. The nicest people were in the Candlewick, Sourcebooks, Little, Brown, and Disney Hyperion booths (hello, if you’re reading this! Thank you for all the books and the great author events!) but EVERYONE was friendly and willing to talk about whatever I wanted.
I think my favorite part was whenever one of them would start going into raptures about a certain book– anytime someone’s that enthusiastic about a book, I almost always want to read it for myself. Example: one of the Soho Press people talked about Stuart Neville’s new book Ratlines, which at first glance doesn’t seem like something I’d be interested in. When the Soho Press person talked about it, though, you could tell she was excited about it and wanted us to be excited about it, too! So I got a copy and am looking forward to reading it.
There were a LOT of author events, and I got autographs from some of my favorite authors. Highlights: Susan Cooper signing Over Sea, Under Stone, Eve Bunting signing SOS Titanic, Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler signing the sampler for his new book, and Malindo Lo signing Ash, Huntress, and Adaptation (her new book).
One thing I was surprised about was that some author signings required you to buy a copy of the book beforehand.2 They were pretty cheap ($10 seemed to be the max amount, and only for hardcovers), but I think I was expecting it to be like BEA where ALL the books are free. Some pubs sold books throughout the weekend, too, including display books at the end of the conference. I ended up buying Over Sea, Under Stone, SOS Titanic, Ash and Huntress, and We, The Drowned for $15 total, which isn’t too bad.
An exciting thing that happened was that my picture was in Monday’s Cognotes (the daily newsletter thing for ALA)! You can download the issue here if you’re interested. I’m on page 8. My blog was mentioned, too, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything happens because of that.
Overall I had a great time at ALA, and I can’t wait to go again!3 The midwinter meeting is in Seattle, and depending on what happens money-wise between now and then I’m hoping I’ll be able to go.
Did any of you go to ALA this month? Link me to your posts about it if you did, please!
Next up I’ll highlight some of the ALA books I’m most excited to read, and then I’ll do one more post of tips for what I learned after going to ALA.
- the exhibit hall was divided into two sections, one focused on publishers and books, and the other focused on the business side of libraries, including furniture and whatnot. Made getting around to the different publishers throughout the day very easy. ↩
- some of them also had ARCs of the author’s newest book that was free, though, with backlist books available for purchase. Kinda confusing, but I just made sure to ask before each signing. ↩
- if they still allow non-librarians to attend, of course. ↩