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Pt 1: ALA, ARC’s, Bloggers, and paying

  • Posted on June 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM

There have been some wonderful, wacky, angry, disgusted, and thoughtful posts on blogs, youtube and twitter about the recent ALA Conference related to bloggers and ARC’s.

Kelly J at Stacked has a post with many comments about arcs and the bloggers receiving them. I found the post to be about far more than the arc’s.

Lizzy Burns picked up on this and blogged at SLJ. See my comment way below in red.

Many people may have seen me at ALA conferences with bags of books slung over my shoulders. After reading the posts mentioned below, I went back to examine my stacks and my own behavior. Guess what? I don’t feel bad after all.

I picked up 38 books at ALA this year. Of those, 19 (half) have notes in them I wrote after talking to the publishers so I would remember why I needed this title and how I intended to blog about it. Ten more were publisher suggestions based on their having read my reviews in the past and hoping that I would give the title a chance. Six titles were Young Adult titles I intend to blog about and give particular readers (I already have them in mind) and the last three were adult titles that interested me and that I may or may not blog about.

So if that’s all I picked up, why so many bags? Publisher catalogs, posters, event publicity packets, business cards, posters for my library and sometimes duplicate posters received with permission to put in teachers’ classrooms for a title I intend to use school-wide. Plus all my committee work is in those bags with folders and hundreds of pages.

I carry lists of subjects I’m looking for and speak with certain publishers asking them if they have any titles out now or in the works to meet these needs. This conference I spoke with several nonfiction publishers asking them to create titles about engineers to meet our STEM needs including acoustical engineers, packaging engineers, etc. I have asked for mathematical titles for years. They are producing them. I’ve asked for wider varieties of biographies and they are being published.

Many times I approach a publisher and ask them “Which titles are you most excited about this year?” I want the publishers there to answer this question. At the same time, I watch attendees (not judging or knowing what kind they are) take ARC’s and anything not tied down with a note saying the price or DO NOT TAKE. I am happy publishers bring enough people to help in the booth. I’ve also learned most of the “big-wigs” (from the mouths of the other staff) attend Friday night and Saturday. If I want to see and chat with them, I must come early in the conference to ask my questions.

Since I usually am in committee meetings, council, etc., I don’t have more than 3 planned hours total during the conference to visit the exhibit hall. I plan vendors. I write down questions. I rush early and I do frantically pick up titles during that time. Later in the conference on Monday if my committee finished early, I rush back to the exhibit hall. Usually the rush is down and I can pick up the publisher’s catalogs and start highlighting things I want to look for or to go back and consider viewing in the future. At that time I dart around booths and look for publishing trends so when I do presentations I can share these. I also purchase many books the last day for specific needs or treats for teachers.

Before I went to ALA, I was in a workshop bemoaning that I didn’t have time to cut or color out the grey. Two sweet teachers on staff surprised me and we cut & colored during our lunch break in the sink of the art room at school. Talk about a gift of service. Taking eight inches off my hair made it much cooler and helped me feel better. I bought Loreen Leedy’s beautiful new book Symmetry which I had heard about at the ALSC Nonfiction Blast for the art teacher, and I bought jellyfish books for the kindergarten ELL teacher who helped.

Here is a comment I posted on Liz Burn’s blog (with some typos fixed):

I notice some publishers actually flinching at the word blogger. While I was looking at the broader range of titles displayed behind the front tables, I saw some people rush up to grab ARC’s and announce “I’m a blogger so I need this.” It made me not too quick to do the same at booths. For some booths, I would point to titles on their back displays that I had recently blogged about and I asked them if they had read the post. If not, I left the web address, took their business card, and mentioned that I’d be happy to notify them in the future of reviews. Perhaps this is where I’m weakest as a blogger in going back to the emails. So, I decided to hire my son’s girlfriend to help me type in my blogging database (as soon as she moves here from North Carolina). I work hard to keep track of ARC’s and books received because I want to be accountable. I also donate my ARC’s to students and to other teachers to read who are looking for new titles to purchase for classroom sets in libraries. I send titles up to the high schools for disbursement and give many as prizes. I also give presentations and may give away an ARC there with the reminder that it is not to be put in the library collection, but if they like it they could order the finished product. At ALA the local people who attend exhibits are important for the exhibitors and it also tells the organization which areas are popular. One trend I saw is exhibitors and vendors providing free exhibit passes in the week before conference. Hopefully when they come for the first time, they’ll see great programs and want to attend the full conference. Perhaps we could do a vendor/exhibitor program on the stage just for those bloggers in the future and let them know how important membership and full attendance is.

Some changes I will be making immediately to my own behavior:

  • Add those ARC’s the first week I come back from conference to my blogging database.
  • Include the publicists or publishers email address so I can send them the link immediately when I blog.
  • Remember to immediately send them that notice.
  • Re-activate my google blogging calendar where I schedule which books I intend to systematically read, blog specifically about topics and books, and blog about before release.
  • Put a release date in my blogging database so I can periodically sort and have them pop up. I read so many books but then set them aside because some publishers don’t want the reviews out more than a month before release. Need to note those.
  • Never run out of business cards again. My new cards have my two (3,4) identities on them. One side lists my school with the STEM Magnet focus. The other side lists my blog with my writing, reading, and presenting focus.
  • Leave space on the card for notes. Example, wants books on boys pressured by girls, requests ARC of sequel to Ashfall, needs catalog, wants posters.
  • Prepare beforehand the links to reviews so when I am there in person I don’t blank out which book I reviewed. I did this with Flux books when I suddenly couldn’t remember the name Ripper. Loved that book. Sophisticated good YA title I intend read on the plane out there, but stood in the booth like an idiot unable to recall the name. I stayed and looked at every title in their catalog until I found it so I could redeem myself. Note to self: publish review today.
  • Stop trying to do it alone. During the school year a wonderful parent, Shela Crisler, helped me type titles into the database so we could keep track of how many books I donated to the school after reading them, presenting them, and blogging about them. Some blog posts haven’t been released yet due to my change over to my own domain name. Last year I personally gave my school 700plus books. The district budget paid for 70 books. If I didn’t have help, I couldn’t read and accomplish this. Plus having Shela help drew my attention to titles I might have missed like Embrace. (Shela, I have the ARC for the sequel Entice to share with you)

I need the ARC’s and the review copies to try to help others obtain good books. Do I need them more than others? Nope and if a publisher doesn’t offer to hand me the book, I’m not going to be offended. They have priorities and limited budgets. My responsibility is to hurry up and get reviews out there so that I can become a higher priority and valuable contributor to the librarian/blogger/publisher triad. I also am not ashamed to just ask for a book to be sent if they find an extra copy. If they say no, it’s not personal and I can get over it.

Will you make any changes in your behavior in the exhibit hall at conference?