Book Expo America

All I want is more

Remember when “binge” was a word we didn’t take lightly? 

Formerly, it applied to individuals straying into saloons or meeting with bad company and succumbing to more beverages than originally intended.  Despite advice from embroidered samplers or wise elders, Moderation In All Things proved impossible just then.  Such incidents were also called “sprees” (crime sprees were likewise deplorable–unlike shopping sprees, which are somehow cute.  But I digress.)

While admitting the dangers of bingeing with drink or food, we recognize how perfectly that word encapsulates excess.  So we borrow it for blithely self-confessed (thus excusable) overindulgences of all sorts.   At Book Expo America this year, “binge-reading potential” was applied as a compliment for any author whose latest book keeps readers turning the pages well into the night or whose series tempt fans to consume one book after the other, like bon-bons. 

The phrase would be music to authors’ ears; for readers, it places us in good company.  At my house, the sampler would read “Moderation Except Books, Chocolate, and Guacamole.”  But I don’t embroider–I read.  And lately my husband and I have also binge-watched House of Cards, thanks to the library’s Season One DVD collection.  The only reason we haven’t zoomed through Season Two in a shockingly brief time span is that we’re too frugal to buy the set and are waiting to borrow the library’s copy. Oliver Twist asking for more gruel

Happily, delayed gratification isn’t an issue with two forthcoming novels:  Jane Smiley’s Some Luck and Deborah Harkness’ trilogy-concluding The Book of Life.  Both copies accompanied me home from Book Expo. 

Those of us fortunate to receive Harkness’ book were asked not to comment on the story until July 15, so I won’t (just know that you will not be disappointed.)

But here is the irresistible premise of Some Luck:  First of The Last Hundred Years  trilogy, the story spans 1920 to 1953, each chapter depicting one year in the life of the Langdons, an Iowa farm family.  The trilogy will end with 2020: 100 years, 100 chapters.  Incisively viewing social history as the Langdon’s five children experience it, the story also brilliantly conveys family dynamics: parental preferences and expectations, implications of birth order, etc.  Smiley’s gift for interweaving both telling private moments and large-scale events produces an immersive reading experience.

And that’s the problem-at least for me.  Deeply engaged with the characters in Some Luck, I devoured it, staying up late one night and (thank goodness for weekends) resuming reading the next day, finishing before lunch.  I wasn’t prepared to part with the Langdons yet, but I couldn’t restrain myself from following their fortunes as far as I could as soon as I could.

And now, the interval before the second book will be even longer because this was an advance reading copy. 

What do we learn from my example?  Probably nothing: I defy you to pace yourself sedately when you get your hands on Some Luck (which may happen for you sooner than the October publication; we’ll be offering the autographed ARC as a drawing prize on Facebook sometime in the next couple of weeks).

Just wait ’til you hear

We understand why library customers ask us The Question (how we
feel about “libraries going away now that we have ebooks and the
internet”). 

Earlier this week, one such inquirer stacked her pile of library books
on the Reference desk while she entered the drawing for this week’s Reader’s
Bonanza
tote bag prize–these actions at least partially demonstrating why
ebooks don’t signal our demise.

This lady reads ebooks, too (thank you, Overdrive at RRPL!)
and probably enjoys the amazing convenience of the internet, as do library
staffers and many patrons.  But the internet doesn’t answer all your
questions—the reason this valued customer came to the Reference desk.  
And let’s not forget that library resources save their users a significant
amount of money.

Digital books and the internet aren’t library replacements—they
represent additional avenues of access for libraries to facilitate—along with
print, still preferred by an impressive percentage of readers.   As
publishing options diversify and technology advances, everyone is
guessing how market shares and format preferences will evolve.   The
only sure bet—my opinion–is that consumers aren’t thinking “instead of”; they
want “also”.
 

Librarians are not just OK with publishing upheaval, we tend to be
energized by it, perhaps more comfortable with the changes than our customers
are.  When one works at a desk where anyone can approach at any time with
all sorts of questions, one learns to respond with “Hmmmm, let’s see…” rather
than “Oh, no!”

Other reasons for optimism:

The audio age:  Audiobooks are
burgeoning in popularity.  Library Journal reports a
confluence of factors– longer commuting times, expanding variety, diversity in
audio formats, convenience of mobile devices—driving the current audio boom. 
Audio Publishers Association observes that, “while other areas of the
publishing industry are shrinking, audiobooks are its fastest growing segment”
with, according to APA president Michelle Cobb, “an astonishing 83 percent
increase in audiobook titles produced just from 2011 to 2012”.  Yesterday,
a customer who’s an audio enthusiast and I were dropping names of career audiobook
readers, some of whose reputations rival those of film stars.   And you’d
be surprised how many celebrity actors (e.g., Bryan Cranston) also work as
audiobook narrators.

Giveaway alert (especially if a road trip is in your future):  The
library’s adult services department will offer a dozen unabridged CD audiobooks
as Facebook drawings and in-house “pop-up prizes” in the coming week.
Clamor for HP books

The “buzz” factor:  Physical books retain their
power to incite passion, acquisitiveness, and delight.   Stephen
Colbert’s advocacy for Edan Lepucki’s forthcoming
California will do
wonders for a debut author’s career—but Colbert also has a point to prove about
vendor responsibility toward customers.

At trade conferences like ALA and BEA, limited quantities of
pre-publication giveaway copies are scouted, coveted, and grabbed with alacrity
when the stacks materialize on the floor, signaling availability.  Last month at Book Expo, I thought I’d missed
getting the ARC of Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, third in her
trilogy.  Assuming this to be my due for
having once claimed I didn’t read vampire novels, I had resigned myself when a
colleague alerted me to the still-open autograph line and the last few copies,
after which I gleefully hugged the longed-for volume to my chest.

I hope no one saw that.

Which came first: the fried chicken or…?

 

 

“What was
the weather like?” That’s the first question co-workers asked about New
York last week (I attended Book Expo America).  Answer: “I wore my coat
every day!”

 

 

Ignoring
the forecast for weeklong 70s, I packed light outerwear that made brisk walking
in that unexpectedly cool, windy spell a pleasure–not that I was merely
traipsing from Point A to Point B.  Most of the time I hauled armloads of
books back to the hotel to stash in my luggage. 
Those
treasures and a 45-pound box of publisher giveaways and advance reader copies
shipped from BEA will furnish prizes for
grownup library customers during the “Mad About Reading” summer reading campaign.    Check our Facebook
page and library homepage for details next week.

 

 

Last
summer, when we held weekly drawings for literary goodies and hosted spontaneous
“Pop-Up Prize” giveaways at the reference desk, we relished seeing customers’
expressions change from puzzled to thrilled as we confirmed: “Take it–it’s yours!”

 

 

BEA called
to mind another rewarding variety of takeaway—candid gems from authors whose
work we cherish.

 

 

The Library
Journal
-sponsored Day of Dialog in the McGraw-Hill building (50th
floor, nice view of the Empire State Building) featured practical discussions:
collection development, formats in transition, etc.  But DoD is most known
for stellar assemblages of authors and publishers, all passionate about their
upcoming releases, their enthusiasm contagious. 
During
presentations–editors’ picks, cookbook trends, women fiction writers, key
contemporary authors—noted panelists offered up choice commentary:

 

 

Lisa
Scottoline
’s zingers broke up the room at frequent intervals.  She
shared a favorite compliment, bestowed by a gentleman who claimed that he never
bought books authored by women:  “You write like a man”.

 

 

Scottoline,
who loves to visit libraries and has done so countless times, confessed, “I’m a
library slut.”

 

 

Lengendary
food writer/restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, asked what inspired her 1000
Things to Eat Before You Die
,
smiled, “Well, what motivated me was making a
great deal of money.”

 

 

Lee Brian
Schrager, author of Fried and True (an entire cookbook about fried
chicken) corrected the notion that this delicacy is of American, specifically Southern,
origin.  The true birthplace of FC:  Scotland.

 

 

Addressing
the panel’s observation that “women’s fiction” is a label while “men’s fiction”
is not, Sophie Littlefield suggested this alternative:  “Fiction
You Will Like”.

 

 

Marlon
James,
author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, recounted
anecdotes from his university teaching experience and admitted to a fascination
with the 1970s: “I just wanted to put my characters in polyester.”

 

 

Chelsea
Cain
, her injured leg cushioned and propped atop a chair, garnered a roomful of
guffaws by announcing the title of her new thriller:  One Kick.

 

 

Asked
which women authors deserved bigger audiences, the “Women Writing Fiction”
panel recommended these up-and-coming talents:

S.J. Bolton
Victoria
Schwab
Lidia Yuknavitch
Linda Castillo
Karen Witemeyer
Sarah Gran
Sarah
Beth Durst
,
and Stephanie Perkins.  The library has books by everyone on this list.

 

 

Finally,
a memorable revelation not from Day of Dialog but overheard at Javits Center in the massive queue
awaiting an autograph and a moment with Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame:  “I missed a friend’s
wedding for this!”
 


And the hints just keep on coming

In the run-up to Book Expo America next week, I’m doing my exhibitor homework:  assessing which autographed publications and advance reader copies would most interest Round Rock readers.

Paula Daly, I note, has Keep Your Friends Close due out in September.  Her suspenseful fiction debut, Just  What Kind of Mother are You?  has checked out briskly since we acquired it last fall.

That ARC created an awkward scenario, now comical in retrospect.   The co-worker whom I elected Reader #2–after me– was away at an outreach appearance.   Rather than wait until our schedules coincided to hand off the copy in person, I propped it on the door frame, visible to anyone passing by.

Now imagine that you arrive at your workstation to spot an offering prominently emblazoned Just What Kind of Mother…?

Fortunately, this colleague (a) has a generous sense of humor and (b) is patently not a candidate for any degree of parenting criticism. 

Not only do Daly’s titles demand our attention, they also mimic popular nonfiction themes.  We tend to deflect acquaintances’ uninvited advice, but hints and tips packaged in snazzy covers by people unknown to us are practically irresistible. 

Michael Korda’s Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller 1900-1999 (recommended by the RRNN/Barnes & Noble book group) documents both fiction and nonfiction, but Americans’ affinity for life-improvement strategies is clear.  And purchasing trends in nonfiction mirror evolving society: 

1910s: 
Choices scholarly by comparison to today: lots of memoir, history, poetry, biography.  Yet Better Meals for Less Money and How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day reflect modern sensibilities.

1920s: 
Notables include The Art of Thinking; Etiquette by Emily Post; Economic Consequences of the Peace by John M. Keynes. 

1930s: 
More of what we now term “self-help” emerging:  Live Alone and Like It and Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis; You Must Relax by Edmund Jacobson; How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. 

1940s: 
Post-war, it’s no surprise that How to Stop Worrying and Start Living resonated in 1948; in 1949, two of ten bestsellers were about canasta.  Fresh green juice

1950s:  
 The desire for high-quality everyday living inspires several from Betty Crocker and Better Homes & Gardens; Look Younger, Live Longer by Gayelord Hauer; How to Live 365 Days a Year by John A. Schindler.

1960s and 1970s:
Cookbooks now focus specifically:  dessert, salad, casseroles, bread, chicken.  And then: Sex and the Single Girl, The Joy of Sex, The Hite Report, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, but Were Afraid to Ask.  Erma Bombeck (The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank) scores multiple chart toppers.

1980s and 1990s: 
These speak for themselves:  Richard Simmons; Beverly Hills Diet; Bill Cosby; Robert Fulghum; “Your Inner Child”; Rush Limbaugh, “Juicing”, Men Are From Mars, Who Moved My Cheese.  

Finally, a few recent titles I’ve spotted that might, if left at your door, prompt examination of your co-workers’ motives:
 If I Were You
Now Look What You’ve Done
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices
Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You, and
Wear No Evil.

Please, thank you, and mine!

Ever worked a customer service desk?  Then you’re familiar with the Conflicted or I Hate to Bother You, But… Complaint.  This nice library patron was even conflicted about the reason.

With hands apart, palms up (the universal “this is probably futile” signal), she reported that a clearly audible cell phone chat from two rows back had jolted her out of fiction-browsing mode.

Mind you, this was on second floor, AKA The Quiet Floor.  As if being reluctantly cast in the role of tattletale weren’t enough, the customer couldn’t decide which seemed more unfair: the interruption or the extreme non-urgency of the conversation.

The disturbance, we agreed, was unfortunate–also unintentional.  Those tall shelving units look awfully substantial, perhaps capable of preventing sound transmission.   But not even in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section do collected volumes assume Sonic Deflection Shield capability.

If such issues don’t resolve themselves quickly (which happened even as we discussed this one), a gentle reminder does the trick.  It’s easy to forget that cell phoning isn’t appropriate everywhere.

Our customers tend to be demonstrably polite, evidenced by responses to our Summer Readers’ Bonanza.  We offer several “pop-up prizes” each week at the reference desk.  At random intervals and without fanfare, the “It’s a Pop-up Prize!” sign appears on the reference desk with a book or bag from Book Expo America.

Whoever spots the prize first may take it.  (Think of the King Arthur legend:  you’re Arthur and the prize is Excalibur. Go for it.)

We’ve been surprised to see library customers look right past the sign and charmed to witness folks who see it but can’t bring themselves to take the prize.  Some customers track back and forth a time or two.   They might stop, gingerly touch the item, then replace it, needing the assurance of a staffer’s smile, nod, or thumbs-up before claiming it.

Also, there’s this:  Unlike the King Arthur story, our prizes aren’t pre-ordained for accessibility only to the perfect match.

Some pop-ups ultimately claimed by ecstatic winners were first caught and released by well-mannered readers rightly viewing them as Not My Type.  The man who spied Sylvia Day’s Entwined With You briefly surveyed the contents, commenting, “some woman will be thrilled to have this; I’ll leave it for her.”  What a gentleman.  And he was correct.

To demonstrate that I, too, was raised right, I brought back my advance copy of Charles Belfoure’s The Paris Architect (mentioned last week, now finished) for pop-up sharing.  Unlike the other pristine giveaways, it’s had one reader but is a terrific find for grown-up readers of both genders.

Some upcoming pop-ups might be deemed “chick books”, but we’ll also offer  DK’s The Conquest of the Ocean, Filip Bondy’s Who’s on Worst: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History; Don J. Snyder’s Walking with Jack: A Father’s Journey to Become His Son’s Caddie; Robert Boswell’s Tumbledown; James R. Hannibal’s Shadow Catcher; and Michael Paterniti’s The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese.

And it would be downright rude not to mention this Books for Dudes” list from Library Journal Online.

Triple-digit scores for trio

Oh, good.  The annual Triple Digit Temperature Anticipation is over.  We can proceed to more vital topics, say, air conditioning and novels. 

On weekends when I interrupt yard work at intervals to duck inside for a hat or water, to check on the dogs or whatever (because overtly preventing heat exhaustion sounds wimpy) I appreciate the cool respites.  I also resent adding minutes to the completion timeline.

Only when finished do I allow myself to open one of those tempting ARCs from Book Expo America

Compelling novels and AC are optimizers of sorts.  Climate control sustains us so we accomplish more; great stories broaden our experience so we understand each other better.

And these three just-read forthcoming picks are superior; I recommend them for richly developed characters and distinctive points of view.   They’re for grownups, particularly the latter two:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (October 1), observes its most revelatory scenes not in iconic terrain (it’s set in Australia) but in contemporary urban venues–academic conferences, restaurants, apartment balconies, habitats of brilliant thirtysomething genetics professor Don Tillman.   Don (Big Bang Theory fans, think Sheldon), variously termed “almost robotic”, “socially inept”, and “awkwardly charming”, appears capable of greater interpersonal sensitivity, but even he would set that bar low.

Unlike Sheldon, Don has prioritized the acquisition of a life partner.  The obvious approach (if you’re Don):  precisely calibrated criteria packaged in a lengthy application–The Wife Project.  Ah, romance.

Don’s unvarnished (and oft-mistaken) impressions are relayed in terms meeting his high standards for factuality–and yours for poignancy and comedy.

Amy Tan‘s The Valley of Amazement (November 5) also views proceedings indoors–at first: the elegant confines of a courtesan establishment.  At BEA, Tan sharedScenic vista in China the story’s genesis:  her discovery that the ensemble worn by her grandmother in a favorite photo matched styles in pictures documenting turn-of-the-century Chinese courtesans. 

Tan’s latest revisits themes prized in The Joy Luck Club:  legacies of mothers and daughters, resourcefulness and persistence in the face of transplantation, explorations of ethnic identities and boundaries.  Spanning fifty years from San Francisco to Shanghai, Valley fascinates even before it ventures outdoors into truly amazing territory.

Charles Palliser‘s Rustication (Nov. 4) involves none of the calm, bucolic, self-directed existence you’d expect.  This Gothic with a Capital G tale denotes the more specific (British) term for suspension from school.  In the mid-1860s, 17-year-old Richard Shenstone finds himself “rusticated” from Cambridge (sadly, not his chief worry).  Having learned of his father’s death via the newspaper–though mother and sister are alive and well and could have written–he’s entertaining apprehensions about what and why he wasn’t told more. 

Arriving “home” to his family’s recent relocation, a dank, creaking outpost whose closest neighbor is a quagmire (literally), Richard encounters villagers seething with gossip and ill will, a depraved series of threatening letters, and all manner of unwholesome goings-on.

Poor Richard has no idea whom to believe, nor will you.  Your only recourse is to keep reading…

Solid proof that readers are winners

Guess what we figured out?  People of all ages appreciate free stuff (interesting, high-quality free stuff).  Who knew?

The library’s youth summer reading programs have long been identified with favorite performers, activities, story times.  Oh, and prizes, prizes, prizes.

Adults, we reasoned, didn’t require as much incentive to read.

We weren’t incorrect.  We hear daily about our grownup customers’ impressive reading portfolios.  However, they are busy people.  Taking time to document preferences and list which library activities and databases they find relevant–that’s what demands recognition AKA prizes.

We now have really nice drawing prizes (two words: iPad Mini) for our Brain Food campaign for adult cardholders.  Our Summer Readers’ Bonanza (which all grownups can enter, regardless of cardholder status) features an enviable drawing prize and several spontaneous giveaways each week through August 5.   Acquisition of these perks was achieved thanks to Friends of the Round Rock Public Library, the good fortune of collecting publicity items at Book Expo America, and the aid of publishers (a box of new giveaway donations, including Inferno, arrived from our Random House rep just yesterday.  Thanks, Robert!).

We acknowledge the irony of this lesson.  Who in Round Rock enjoys closer proximity to the latest books and articles on motivation?  Even if we were tardy in making the adult reader-prize connection, we knew all along that this topic, particularly relating to the workplace, greatly interests local business owners, managers, and savvy employees.

A quick search of the library catalog with “motivation” or “employee motivation” yields so many titles that everyone will relate personally to one: The Power of Consistency: Prosperity Mindset Training…; The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace; The Wisdom of Bees: What the Hive Can Teach Business about Leadership and Growth; The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business; All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results; and many more.

You can mine current articles about motivation from our online resources:  Masterfile, Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, for starters.

I haven’t encountered a motivational trend yet that couldn’t claim merit to some degree.  But these approaches are numerous and frequently contradictory.   No wonder commercial wall art illustrating easily-recalled nuggets of encouragement sells so briskly; adhering to a personal mantra enables one to assimilate the best of the best.

But why purchase a slogan when World Book Encyclopedia and popular culture already yield these gems?

    • Oklahoma state motto: “Labor conquers all things.”
    • North Carolina: “To be, rather than to seem.”
    • For anyone whose work culture operates in a continual state of flux, consider Connecticut’s motto: “He who is transplanted still sustains.”
    • Classic C&W song “The Gambler”: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…”
    • Bumper sticker for Longhorn Rentals: “Roll with us.”

Finally, from the theme song on the Crazy Heart soundtrack:  “This ain’t no place for the weary kind.  This ain’t no place to lose your mind…”

Heaven and Hell’s Kitchen

“Such an amazing place,” the customer observed dreamily.  “But I don’t suppose I could ever get in.”

Nice to know that the Book Expo America photos I posted online conveyed the energy and special-ness of the event–noted authors by the score, acclaimed presenters, book giveaways, direct access to publishers.  But (except for the new Power Readers option on the last day) you must be in the book trade to get in.

“For a serious reader,” I confided to the library patron, “BEA is pretty much like Heaven.”

I should note that BEA’s venue, the Javits Center, lies solidly within the confines of Hell’s Kitchen (explanations for the district’s name abound).  Newer appellations for the area–“Clinton” or “Midtown West”–just sound namby-pamby, don’t they?

My accommodations were also located in HK.  Frankly, I reveled in the opportunity to begin each day descending 51 floors by elevator, thanking the doorman for his aid (God forbid I should have to open the door), scooting into the Starbucks next door, and embarking on a ten-minute stroll to Javits with my favorite sissy beverage.

But somehow, claiming that I daily traversed half of the breadth of Hell’s Kitchen on foot–alone–still sounds a little tough.  Grit credit would be as undeserved as my dumb luck in having lovely relatives with a spiffy Manhattan condo.

But good fortune doesn’t count toward Heaven.  And a few other aspects of BEA align with the earthly realm, as well:

You can take it with you. You have to; of all the amenities offered by the huge convention center, none include secure, free places to leave your handbag or briefcase while you stuff tote bags with advance copies and other swag. You’ll juggle three or four carryalls and the iPad or smartphone you’re using to snap photos. If your arms aren’t stretched a couple of inches longer after a day at BEA, you’re just not trying.

Controversy is encouraged (if it’s literary). Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky drew spontaneous applause several times during the Poetry Opens Doors panel discussion. His most memorable observation was provoked by earnest suggestions from librarians exhorting others to “push” poetry at every conceivable opportunity (e.g., displays at checkout stations in the manner of National Inquirer stacks at the grocery checkout). Pinsky objected, challenging the notion that poetry is “something to take care of as if it were sick.”

Covetousness is (if not admired) part of the fun. Tote bags are serious business at BEA (check out one clever blogger’s 2013 BEA Book Bag Awards–June 3).  At some point, most attendees succumb to Bag Envy. The array of distinctive giveaways–massive red leatherette carriers, elegant black Hobbit bags adorned with a stylized dragon (I got one; it’s a summer drawing prize), limited edition carryalls channeling LL Bean–is noteworthy. Even when you’ve acquired enviable bags yourself, your eye wanders to The One That Got Away.

Round Rock Public Library’s Summer Readers’ Bonanza begins Monday, June 17 (details available then), and you, too, might claim one of our divine BEA swag giveaways!

Sharing: an Empire State of mind

I don’t have a photo of Dr. Ruth on my phone.  But the gentleman behind me in the Sue Grafton autograph line at Book Expo America (New York City, last week) does.  He’d spotted her in the cavernous Javits Center exhibit hall, asked if she could spare a minute, and–voila!  (See my celeb photos on the library’s Facebook page.)

Before we could share other sightings (Elizabeth Gilbert, Diana Gabaldon, Nathaniel Philbrick, Mo Willems, Julianne Moore, Amy Tan, Susan Mallery, Sylvia Day, Lemony Snicket, Tim Conway, David Baldacci, Paul Harding, Jonathan Lethem, Bill Bryson, (even Grumpy Cat), and dozens of other notables made appearances) Ms. Grafton breezed in ahead of schedule.   Assessing the enormity of her queue, she checked in at her booth before embarking on a whirlwind tour of the line to greet all, especially those who’d be standing for the foreseeable future.   She charmed all present and equipped us with enviable volumes (W is for Wasted won’t be out until September.)

Empire State BuildingWhy would publishers distribute freebies that the recipient now doesn’t have to purchase and even risk major spoiler potential? 

Libraries aren’t the sales-killers you might imagine.  When librarians render enthusiasm for forthcoming books, and when libraries offer access that builds interest in an author, title, or series–everybody profits.  And we respect our readers too much to divulge what we shouldn’t.  (But it’s OK to hint that Amy Tan‘s The Valley of Amazement–due out in November–is worth the wait.)

When I sent my daughter a photo of an epic queue threading around the ground floor, up the escalator, and onto the show floor, she responded, “So, is it pretty much like a Con except with fewer people dressed as Jedis?”

Probably.  But BEA attendees likely demonstrate more consideration than most, and the rumors are more frequently substantiated–Diana Gabaldon’s contract for an Outlander TV series, Brad Pitt’s production of the TV drama based on Jason Mott’s The Returned.  I bagged an autographed advance copy of The Returned, published by Harlequin, due out in September, and expected to generate major buzz.

And speaking of consideration:  choosing Ann Romney‘s autograph line meant missing out on Helen Fieldings session.   But Ann arrived 25 minutes early and instantly settled in to chat with readers and sign pamphlets.   Thanks to her solicitude, some of us could meet and photograph both authors–and be doubly impressed.

Book giveaways (limited quantities, first come-first served) I was especially gratified to snag include Jessica Stilling’s Betwixt and Between (said to be “The Lovely Bones meets Peter Pan“), Elizabeth Kelly’s The Last Summer of the Camperdown, Elinor Lipman‘s I Can’t Complain, Lee Smith’s Guests on Earth and poet Billy Collins latest,  Aimless LoveBut then those copies of Elizabeth Gilbert‘s The Signature of All Things, Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927, and A. Scott Berg‘s Wilson are calling to me, as well.

Next time, I’ll post more details about upcoming library prize and giveaway opportunities for exciting BEA books and swag (because librarians always share).

We may even overthink that whole fairness thing.  Late Thursday afternoon, the young librarian just ahead of me sighed exhaustedly, revealing that she had one more “duty” line before calling it a day.  She’d promised a co-worker a particular autographed Romance book.

I had that very book in my bag and believed it to be replaceable the next day.  So I offered it to her.  She brightened for a moment, asked, “Are you sure!?” and began to reach for it.  Then her Sense of Obligation kicked in, and she shook her head mournfully.  “I just couldn’t,” she confessed.  “I’ve got to earn it.”

If you think librarians don’t use four-letter words…

…you’re in for a shock. Clearly, some days are better than
others here at the library, but an event we have planned for this week has
inspired a whole string of brief but expressive terms. Brace yourself.

FREE. That’s right, I said it. If you drop by Readers
Extravaganza
this Thursday and are on hand for the prize drawings, you could
leave with a great advance reading copy or new book (most are autographed) or
other prize from this year’s BEA. No charge.

EXPO. As in Book Expo America: that’s the huge annual
event mingling booksellers, publishers, and librarians at New York City’s Javits
Center. Authors plug their forthcoming books and everyone tries to snag advance
reading copies so they can prognosticate what the big hits of the coming year
will be.

BUZZ. If you’re an author or publisher, this is the feedback
you dream about—excited word-of-mouth advertising that could propel your book
into mega-sales. So don’t be surprised if you see some of these (see next
4-letter word) around the gallery area on Thursday night:

BEES. But don’t worry. They’ll be fabric or
cardboard versions.

FOOD.  I believe I heard Kate mention punch and cookies; you can certainly expect a nice treat to be served.

LINE. This signifies what I stood in (otherwise known as a
queue), sometimes up to an hour, waiting to get a notable author to inscribe
his/her name, just so co-workers, friends, family, and YOU could have lovely
souvenirs.

DROP. This is what I’ve been doing–with names– ever since
I returned from BEA 2012. No matter what conversational topic is in force, I’ll
find cause to mention that I had teeny little chats with Robert Goolrick, Dan
Rather, Buddy Guy, Tim Gunn, Sabrina Soto, Lemony Snicket, Ted Dekker, Janet
Groth, Amor Towles, Gillian Flynn, and others. A signed copy of Gone
Girl
is one of our prizes, by the way.

LOVE. Many other librarians paid their own
expenses for BEA, as I did. For-profit employers may have more expansive budgets; librarians’ greatest asset is their affection for new books.

MINE!   I’ve given away dozens of wonderful items so far, but no one gets my advance copy of Mark Helprin’s In Sunlight and In Shadow.
Don’t even ask.