Saturday, June 30, 2012

ALA 2012 Clarification

I wanted to take a moment to address the issue of the ALA book haul video I uploaded to Youtube (which I have removed) and subsequent discussion surrounding the acquiring of ARCs at ALA (and for the most part industry events as a whole, although ALA is the first one I have attended). On the subject of book hauls in general, I personally love watching them. I think it's so fun to see what others are reading and to take notes of titles that look interesting. It's also a great way to connect to other readers and to talk about or showcase books in an efficient and creative way. The reason I started this blog was to share my love of reading (and fashion) with others and to hopefully inspire someone to seek out titles they might otherwise not be aware of. I participated in World Book Night this year for this very reason, and I hope others would share my enthusiasm for books and encourage others to also open a book and ignite a world of imagination.

ALA was the first event of this kind that I attended, although I have gone to large events such as SDCC in the past (which has, in recent years, been providing more and more panels from publishers) so I am accustomed to making the most of the limited time you have at events such as these. I certainly don't feel entitled, but I do feel lucky to have been able to attend this event for the first time. It's been difficult to see so many bookstores closing and it's becoming increasingly more difficult to be able to learn about upcoming titles (and not just big name titles) on a firsthand basis. I enjoy being able to talk to the representatives at the booths about the books they are offering and which titles might be of interest to a reader. I admit that I was a bit hasty in my approach to tackling the exhibit hall. I made a schedule prior to the event so that I would be able to hit the booths that had my favorite authors so I would have the chance to talk to them and to get the books that I brought, picked up or bought onsite signed. I also made a list of upcoming titles I was interested in acquiring, as well as additional books others had expressed interest in having me pick up since they could not attend. My goal was to network and to have the opportunity to get books into the hands of those not fortunate enough to attend events such as these.

How did I acquire the books?

I want to be clear that I neither pushed, shoved, bit, punched, or otherwise invaded anyone's personal space in order to take a look at and decide whether or not I wanted a particular book. I had a carefully made schedule which I created prior to the event based on the online schedule and from contacting authors themselves via Twitter, and I rarely deviated from this schedule, especially for authors I was really excited to meet. Almost all the titles I picked up I had to wait in line for, which to me is sometimes half the fun (you meet the most interesting people waiting in line!). Many of the titles provided to attendees were handed out upon passing booths, sitting in neat stacks on the floor, or given out when one inquired about forthcoming titles. Some of the acquired titles were not books I would, at first glace, go for at a book store. Publishers were out for a lot of the titles handing out books as you passed and encouraging you to take a copy and to get your book signed so you could talk with the author and become interested in something you might not ordinarily think to read. Some of the booths were also selling their books, so I also purchased titles. In addition to that, I brought a bunch of my own books to get signed, books I had previously purchased and which I included in the book haul to show how awesome it was that so many authors were available to talk literature for the weekend.

Where do my books go?

I donate a lot of ARCs to my local libraries, small used bookstores (which are becoming more and more of a rarity), giveaways for fellow readers, used as additional book giveaways for World Book Night, and also to my friends who are teachers so they can give copies to their students (both high school and middle school).. I loan or give copies of books to friends and family, especially since many people I know have been heavily impacted by the current economic state and sometimes can't afford to buy books of their own. I do keep the ones I really enjoyed and know I will return to to read again, or I buy the finished copy when it comes out and hand off the ARC to someone else (because let's face it, I prefer hardcover copies over paperbacks!). My ARCs are never sold online or in stores for profit, although I have seen this trend in smaller bookstores and in library bookstores.

About the video:

This was actually my first Youtube upload, although I have done book hauls in the past for things I have bought or received as gifts. I had initially put a "moderate comment" lock on the uploaded video because I have seen other's videos where people post completely unrelated and rude comments to either the user or to other people posting comments. As a clarification, I alone run my blog, and the titles shown in the video were obtained in the manners mentioned above. I had hoped that someone might see the video and become interested in one or more of the titles being shown. In addition to this, many of the titles shown had already found their way into the hands of others starting the day after I had filmed the video and had time to sort through the titles into appropriate age groups. Did I keep some titles? Absolutely, and I intend on reading and reviewing the remainder of the titles on my shelf in the coming months, most likely with grouped giveaways posted with each review (to save on shipping costs).

I don't contest the idea of having an industry member only event, or even having an exhibit hall day pass for nonmembers. These kinds of issues are brought up year after year at all sorts of conferences and conventions, but I assume the organizers of said events are taking into consideration the feedback of its attendees and are organizing to accommodate as many people as possible. When it comes down to it, whether you are a librarian, bookseller, casual reader, blogger, or industry professional, we all share a love for books and for spreading the love of reading to others. I strongly feel that that is the reason we have chosen to spend so much of our time reviewing titles and promoting upcoming books. Have a great day, and happy reading!


  1. I think anyone's first conference is one where they take the most ARCs or books because...well, they're there. It's new. It's overwhelming. It's exciting. It happens.

    I also just wanted to say I love the tone of your post: very balanced and fair in a difficult situation where many emotions ran high. Thank you.

  2. I've just been watching the conversation, not participating (it was my first conference too), but this is lovely. I hope that in future internet "discussions" I can channel some of your clarity and even-handedness. Thank you.

  3. I have to give you props for this thoughtful and well-written response to the whole kerfuffle.

    I will echo Liz in saying that my first BEA dazzled with all the swag and ARCs ready for the taking. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement. As my experience within the publishing world grew, that thrill became tempered by a realization that while nice, ARCs aren't the most important thing about cons. Like you said, it's about networking and learning, and being involved with the publishing community that really make attendance worthwhile.

    I hope the furor didn't get you down too much. Book people tend to be passionate, which can be both a good and bad thing. I made plenty of mistakes when I first started as an editor, but we learn as we go. So keep doing what you're doing, and you'll be fine.

  4. I really love the whole set up of your post, Jamie! You handled this so, so well. I had the same issue at Midwinter, I got overwhelmed by all the books and got a little over-grabby.

    Thanks for the extremely thoughtful and well-written post!


  5. Your response to this kerfuffle (thank you Michelle for providing the right word above)is extremely classy - thanks for writing it!

  6. AHHHH. *claps for you*

    As the Bible says, "An answer, when mild, turns away rage," (Prov. 15:1) and this is a perfect example. I *love* this response and clarification. I wish that everyone who saw your video would also come read this post, but I doubt that will happen. Still, you deserve major kudos for such a calm, rational, and SMART written response that I know is causing many who heard of the video book haul and subsequent kerfuffle change their opinion of you. :)

  7. This is such a great response. The tone is great and I think you handled a difficult situation with grace. (Also, thank you for passing ARCs onto to libraries and teachers. I always love to hear this.)

  8. Well written! I was at ALA as a non-member as well, as come away with 2 books total. I have worked in bookstores for 11 years (and have since moved on), and have hundreds, if not thousands of ARCs from my time as a bookseller.

    I simply don't see the issue here. I know librarians, am married to one, and believe that ARCs are not solely for people who have an MLS. If you blog, promote, or otherwise advertise on any level for a publisher, you have as much of a right as anyone.

    As for me, I await the day they can simply scan your badge and e-mail you an e-book version at any convention. No more complaining about "who got what."

  9. This was a great response! Your blog is beautiful and your video was awesome. I didn't see anything wrong with you being excited for getting books. It's our love for books that keeps us doing what we do. Don't listen to the drama just keep loving books, reviewing and being you. I am a new follower and look forward to reading your reviews. :)

  10. I didn't see your video, I only read the other article referencing it. While I definitely understand and agree with many of the points she made, I suspected that she just misunderstood what she was seeing and it just flared frustration she already had. I think this was a great response and that you handled yourself really well.

    Frankly, I love that you made a schedule. I did the same thing the two times I went to the Library of Congress's book festival (though, I don't think there are ARCs there). I would have done the same thing, and I see nothing wrong with that.

    Maybe the only thing you did wrong in the video was not point out that you had purchased some already and that some were going to others unable to go? (I didn't see it, so I don't really know) But I mean, could you have foreseen the reaction? It's probably a hindsight is 20-20 thing.

    Regardless, you gained a new follower! (Did you see Amy's post?)

  11. Nice post. You did nothing wrong and I love your measured response to what you could have seen as an attack. I'm glad to have discovered your blog... and, along with you, look forward to much happy reading of the ARCs I got at ALA!

  12. Oh, well done! Good on you on every score.

  13. Your response is so well thought out I just had to follow you. And I look forward to reading your reviews in the future!

  14. I have never had the chance to go to a conference and it makes me insane with jealousy sometimes. This year, I actually have the chance to go to one and I am incredibly excited. I can tell you now, if I am offered a book or two or three I will take it gladly and happily and probably do a little dance afterwards. I will bring it home and I will read it, I will review it and I will share the heck out of it. And I see nothing wrong with that. Authors and their publishers want to get the word out about their amazing books and what better way to do that than use the READERS who ADORE READING who will in turn get OTHERS READING. I see nothing wrong with what happened and the backlash is ridiculous. Reading is for peace, and escape. Every reader who loves to read should feel overjoyed about another opening up a book and reading it, professional or not. I may get jealous when I see peoples awesome book hauls but it also makes me happy for them, and I also know I have a few sites to hit up in the coming weeks to read reviews about the books I have been pining over. Bloggers and Goodreads are my first source for new books. That says a lot about who is getting the word out about great new books to me. Rock on with your book haul!

  15. Lola, I've read your post and all the comments above, but there are two questions still nagging me.

    1) What is your sister doing with her duplicate copies of every single title you have?

    2) I'm paraphrasing because the video is no longer available -- Why did you say something like "We probably shouldn't have taken every thing we could get our hands on, but (in unison with your sister) Challenge Accepted!"?

    {I took that section within the first minute of the video as showing you knew you were doing something socially unacceptable and yet responding "F it!"}

    I emailed you on Jun 28 to make sure you knew about the controversy and give you the opportunity to get into the conversation rather than have *us* talking about *you*. I never saw you get involved, so I want to ask some questions about the proposed solutions to what is perceived as a problem to ALA members.

    3) Would the Exhibits only pass being $25 per person per day rather than $25 for all 4 days have made a difference in your behavior?

    4) What do you think of the proposed solution that people not associated with a Library be limited to attending the Exhibits only on one day of the conference? Would your answer be different if that day was the last day of the conference?

    I thank you in advance hoping that you'll get into the conversation.


  16. I do applaud your calm and rational post to everything that's going on (I mean, this whole issue made it's way into PW after all) but I personally don't feel it validates the hoarding. I think when we all first attend such a conference it's incredibly overwhelming and you do end up with more books than you intended and with titles that you wouldn't have given a second glance to had it not been shoved in your face while on the floor (this is literal, actually). They're books! And they're free! Wheeeeeeeeeee! So yeah, I get that. But the majority of attendees, be it for ALA or BEA or whatever else, don't walk away with a haul so large you require a dump truck to transport it.

    This post describes nothing more than what most attendees do with ARCs after receiving them from conventions, or what they use conventions for, or how they approach conventions. YOU handle the books this way. What about your non-book-world-related sister that benefited from the duplicates? This is just greed.

    You are not entirely to blame although I don't think it's asking much to maintain a modicum of self control but the back end needs to be changed as well and checks and balances need to be put in place by both the convention organizers and the publishers to limit non-professional attendees from obtaining so many ARCs.

    I get what you do as a blogger, I really do. And I can empathize with first convention anxiety. But this is just excessive. Good on you for keeping your calm while responding to all of this but I hope you take away a solid learning experience from it too. ARCs are fun but let's not get ridiculous about it. The world won't collapse on itself if you miss a few.

  17. I don't think the problem was how many books you got, I think that the problem was that you got 2 of every book at a conference that is for Librarians to get to read and decide if their library should acquire for their collections.

    I went to BEA this year and went with my mom, but that didn't mean that I had to grab two of every book that was handed out. We got one of each and then we shared with each other. In fact, I'm sharing some of the books with friends that I met. I think the outrage was that it was you and your sister that went and got two of every book. I wanted the Immortal Rules but my mom also wanted one, did that mean I should get two? No, we live together and can share.

    I really do appreciate you responding to this issue but you failed to answer the reason why everyone was upset. Its nice to grab books for friends, but this is a conference for Librarians and they are nice enough to let other people come, and its an abuse of that that makes everyone upset.

    I'm glad you enjoyed ALA, and I hope you don't let this whole thing get you down. I'm hoping you enjoy future conferences.

  18. For all interested parties, another blog post on ARC use --

  19. This is a very nice response. I'm glad you guys have kept things civil. : )

  20. I see both sides of the argument being waged. I have to commend you, however, on being reasonable, calm, and well-mannered in your reply.

  21. This explanation is well explained... but only addresses what one does with an ARC and reasons why people get ARCs. It does not explain the hoarding (2 sets of books). The excessiveness.

    Excitement is not an excuse. You can still be excited and still be considerate.

    Libraries can't do anything with ARCs, they can't enter the ARCs into their collection. ARCs are not meant to be sold, so the book sellers have no use for ARCs as book sellers are not supposed to sell them. Of course, it's a different story when if a specific person, librarian or book seller, wants to read the books.

  22. I am glad you responded in this classy. The video showing how you and your sister got duplicate copies of everything perhaps was not in the best of taste, but your response to the ensuing controversy was, and certainly a far cry from other so-called professional throwing a fit over ARCs they feel they deserve.

    I think you unfairly were publicly shamed. Good on you for taking the high road.

  23. I didn't see the video (I don't think--I did see one with two girls who had a massive amount of books, but I don't know if that was you and your sister).

    I guess the key to avoiding controversy and hard feelings is for anyone attending these events to be conscious of one's behavior and make the effort not to come across as greedy and selfish.

    Getting books for friends on top of what you took for yourself may be going over the top but you'll have to judge yourself on that one--you can always pass on the ARCs to them when you're done or let them borrow what you want to keep. I heard librarians complain that they didn't get the opportunity to get many of the ARCs they were looking forward to and that's not fair to them.

    It is their conference, after all, and we have to remain mindful of that.

  24. I'd love to see your response to J Shore's questions.

  25. Nice blog.
    Great information.
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