Texas Library Association 2010: San Antonio
I love going to conferences. Not only do I get to talk up our books to librarians, but I get to just talk about books in general and see what other publishers are doing. And I get to see some old faces from previous conferences. This was my second TLA conference, and my second time in San Antonio (the first time was for the NCTE conference). So when I was there the first time, my fellow coworker and I made sure to visit the Alamo. Yep the Alamo!
The Alamo is right in the middle of this city, and right by the famous River Walk. Our hotel this time around was right across from it, and with all the rain we had while we were there, it almost looked tropical.
So what does any conference entail from my side?
Well, there’s a lot of preparation: our booth has to be reserved, furniture has to be ordered, banners have to be made showcasing our newest titles and our imprints. Books and galleys have to be shipped. So when one arrives at the convention center the day before exhibits officially open, it looks like this:
These are some pictures that I took from our surrounding area. Lots and lots of boxes. And lots and lots of time invested in making our booths looking pretty for everyone to see the next day. First thing to go up? The banners. Why? Because we need to use those tables to stand on in order to put the banners up. Then we set the tables where we want them. And then the unpacking begins. And then sorting: which books for which imprint, which books for author signings, galleys, promotional items…And then putting the books out nicely for everyone to see. So in the end, booths can look like this:
And then…..exhibits open! I was shocked at how many came to the conference! I think many people were. We of course get to the booths a little earlier to make sure everything is still in its place and just wait for the gates to open. Well they’re not really gates. It’s more of a booming voice announcing that the booths are now open. And before you know it, the day is done.
You spend the day squatting down to put out more galleys, run around with authors and their books to the autographing area, talk and talk and talk, and try to remember to eat and drink….I’m convinced your body just goes into some weird survival mode at conferences because I will just not be hungry. I’m too busy to think about eating. So I always bring saltines with me into the booth and I stash them away and eat a few here and there during the course of the day.
Finally, the exhibits close. And when they do, and it’s time to go back to the hotel, you realize your legs hurt slightly. But wait! The day is not over completely. There’s a dinner to attend with authors and librarians, which are quite enjoyable. I love listening to librarians talk about books, any books, and to hear what goes through their minds when they pick up a galley or a book and read it for the first time, or what their kids like to read, and other different stories. As for the authors, I might as well be starstruck. These are the celebrities for me.
So one day down with 1.5 days more to go. On day 2, I wake up with very sore thighs. I walk around all day with a limp. But with the rush of the day, I forget about it, until the end of the day. The last day is a half day, since exhibits tend to close either at noon or at 1pm. And what does the last day usually look like? Well, we’ve given away all our galleys at this point, and this is the time when we sell our books. Yep, we sell all the books we shipped. But we sell them at a great discount. I know I wouldn’t refuse a hardcover book for 5 or 10 dollars. And the librarians know about these deals and they make a run to the booths to buy, buy buy! Which is great because we know libraries don’t have money to throw around so getting books at great prices is a win situation.
Finally the exhibits close for good. And there is a mad rush on everyone’s part to pack up their stuff. We pack up our banners and our supplies and our bookstands, while workers come in and start ripping up the carpet.
Oh, I forgot to mention the carpet. It is so key to have padding when you order your booth carpet and furniture. It can make a world of difference on your feet. Your feet will still hurt, but they will hurt less than if you didn’t have carpet padding. Oh and shoes. Very comfy shoes help too of course.
And then the traveling begins. A long day of traveling. Every conference I’ve been to has had me home by midnight. With a very long nap afterwards
So that’s TLA in a nutshell. It’s essentially any conference in a nutshell. And I love it. The next conference is BEA but I will be attending it “recreationally”, as I call it. I won’t be staffing our booth so I bought my own badge last month already and can’t wait to go, because even then, I’ll still be talking with people about books.