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Book Expo: My Own Weight in Books

June 2, 2017

Another wonderful day at the Book Expo! Cavorting about, seeing old friends (books, publishers, and people) and making new friends. Seeking some books out joyfully, having others basically happen to me. Filling sturdy tote bags with books. Although I kept an eye out for librarian friends from social media spheres and far-flung places, I wound up having a great day where I encountered many people from my own library system.

When I adjourned to the Librarians Lounge for lunch, Sharon, the regional manager greeted me with a big smile and a hug, and made sure to introduce me to Shirley, another of my fellows. And then Shirley and I discovered we had the Daily News and several friends in common, though she and my dad never overlapped. Because the world is small, the librarian world even more so.

As I was leaving, today, I encountered Lisa, a former classmate who now covers library news for Library Journal. Library school was part of a career change for her as well. We grinned at each other: we’ve got our dream jobs.

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Here is Hilary, coveting Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman book, which we couldn’t snag because the line was bananas.

Taking a moment to sing Hilary’s praises. The Book Expo is our tradition, and we make a great team. I rely on her sense of direction, and offer my willingness to talk to new people, and my eye for new authors and books that might not be on her radar. Plus, we’ve been able to divide and conquer  the sprawling show floor and competing fascinating sessions. (Especially important when the Book Expo is squished into two days. How I miss the extra full afternoon on the show floor of the past Wednesday through Friday BEA experience.) Hilary was especially good to me today, stopping by Soho to scoop up a paper copy of The Devouring by James R. Benn, the next Billy Boyle, as well as going to the Middle Grade panel while I was at a panel about Graphic Nonfiction. And just generally being great company. Hurrah for Hilary! Plus, she has an unerring instinct for booths handing out cookies and other treats.

 

Taking a moment, also, to miss Rayna, who couldn’t make it this year. The way the three of us complement each other makes the Book Expo much less overwhelming.

And, overwhelming it is. Excitingly so. I’ve been waking up early, as though it’s Christmas morning. (It kind of is.) And so, a sleep-deprivation haze joins the giddy overwhelming feeling of knowing just how many books are out there, unknown and unread and waiting for me. (We will not discuss the number of library books I have checked out, or the unread books I own, sitting patiently on my shelves.) To be honest, I had a bit of trouble getting launched this morning, still reeling a bit from yesterday’s wonderfulness. I wasn’t quite ready to fully embrace the Librarians Book Buzz: hearing about, and watching slides of different wonderful books, only some of which were readily available to get my hands on today. I tiptoed in, and then scurried back out to rejoin Hilary for more unstructured browsing. I’m kind of mad at myself for missing two sessions of the Librarians’ Book Buzz. Hoping there’s a full list of titles compiled somewhere.

The first full panel I attended today was excellent, both from a personal and work-related point of view: Nonfiction Graphic Novels, curated and presented by booksellers. The focus of the titles curated was on graphic nonfiction that highlights and honors the experience of diverse voices, particularly immigrants and refugees. They covered choices for adults, for teens, and even for young kids, along with excellent suggestions for book-talks and displays. After I digest my notes, I’ll be typing them up here, and I asked one of the presenters for a copy of the slides, to make sure I didn’t miss any title recommendations.

I love the idea of using graphic presentations (graphic novel panels, or well-illustrated picture books) to make stories inviting, and accessible. I also love the idea of pairing graphic novels and traditional text books along lines of theme and appeal, to invite readers of all ages to bridge the artificial gap between prose books and graphic novels. I feel like I learned a lot, and have a lot to think about for future collection development and displays, and hopefully conversations with colleagues and with teens.

That one hour of presentation makes me feel at least somewhat secure that I used the Book Expo as an opportunity for education, not just cavorting madly and voraciously among the books. And I’m looking forward to browsing Tweets and blogs to catch up on panels I missed because I was elsewhere.

Most of my afternoon was taken up with a great big festival of book gluttony: the Book Speed Dating afternoon. Attendees file into one of the larger conference rooms, and were seated at assigned tables, each heaped with tantalizing stacks of books, a slightly different array at each table. Marketers from different publishers then sat with us, and presented a selection of titles. About 1-2 minutes per title, for a selection of 5 or 6 books. And then, came the next title.

I told myself going in, that I would only lay hands on books I was absolutely sure I was going to read. I told myself that yesterday, too. I reminded myself that there are books I’ve passed on, unread, from past Book Expos, no matter how enticing they seemed at the time.

I went in with an empty bag (and yes, a completely full backpack from the rest of the day’s endeavors.) I left with the bag crammed with books, and books wedged into the other bag. I left my business card in the hands of four reps, asking for titles they had made me covet. I can try to save face by saying some of my book haul will be gifts for friends and family. I can say that I fully intend to read most of these. Books happened to me! Those marketing reps, on the show floor, and in this speed dating panel are very, very good at what they do.

Three bags full of books happened to me today.

I think I’m shorter than I was on Monday.

And we are still not discussing the library books I have checked out. (Being a librarian means no overdue fines. Talk about power!)

Still to come: a full list of the book haul, possibly with commentary.

There are many, many many books.

Also, on the way out, this happened.

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Daniel José Older was sweet enough to take a picture with me. Here we are, grinning our faces off, at the end of a wonderful day.

 

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