ALA Midwinter: Awesome Jokes and Free Books

As some of you know, I attended my first ever American Library Association (ALA) conference this weekend in San Diego. I’d been warned that the Midwinter conference  is more about closed-door awards deliberations than hobnobbing. Still, there was some hobnobbing.

Abrams brought out a few authors with forthcoming books1 and were kind enough to let me join the fun. We ate a bunch of food at a bunch of restaurants with a bunch of librarians and booksellers — all of whom were  delightful people. Even better, I learned a brand new joke from blogging librarian Stacy Dillon:

Another highlight included getting drinks with Travis Jonker and John Schu, both of whom were kind enough to meet with a total stranger and give sage advice about how to run a book blog. The other thing they did was talk about all the exciting free books they had gotten while wandering around the floor. This led to me spending several hours, shuffling between booths, trying to figure out the difference between a free book (called an “ARC”) and a not free book (called a “Stop, thief!”).

At the end of the day I had collected exactly zero ARCs. Why? Because I am a big chicken. During an event titled “A Special Afternoon with Neil Gaiman and Nancy Pearl,” Mr. Gaiman spoke of the English as having “a pathological fear of public embarrassment.”2 I’m pretty sure that characterization extends to Canadians as well. At least it applies to me, which explains how I spent five hours in the Land of Free Books without getting so much as a brochure.

On the following day, I forced Mary to join me so she could gather ARCs on my behalf. Not my proudest hour as a husband. But hey! Free books!

The last big event of ALA Midwinter was the Youth Media Awards ceremony, which began very early Monday morning. Sadly, I was unable to attend. I’m told it was a rollicking good time. For a list of winners and honorees, you can check the ALA’s twitter feed, or better yet Betsy Bird’s lively rundown.

Now go away. I’ve got reading to do.

  1. 1. David Ward and Lauren Myracle were especially great about making me feel welcome. Thanks, guys!
  2. 2. In this same conversation Mr. Gaiman said a number of interesting things about his novel The Graveyard Book, which I plan to address in a future post