Saturday, March 25, 2006

Other random thoughts on PLA in Boston

Disclaimer - I didn't actually attend PLA, just the precon I spoke at and the exhibits, due to expense and a lack of time on my part (I had too many other PLA-related commitments during the day), so you can take these thoughts as they are. But in looking at the program, I can see a number of sessions I would've liked to attend. I'd seriously consider attending in the future, if only to get the chance to see reader's advisory sessions on topics I'm not as familiar with.

  • All the public librarians I met were really cool. I got to hang out with a bunch of readers' advisors from the PLA Readers' Advisory Committee, other NoveList writer-type folks, and other LU authors. It was good to finally match faces with names, after seeing all these people's posts and columns on NoveList and Fiction-L.

  • If I had any other doubts that Charleston, Illinois, was the unofficial center of the known universe, they were brushed aside after I went to Elsevier's booth in the exhibit hall and had a nice chat with one of the sales reps. She was an EIU alum who said she used to party with EIU's current prez. And this is after learning that Brad Hooper, my editor at Booklist, grew up in a house in my subdivision here in Charleston.

  • Don't bother with the saag paneer from the fast-food Indian places at Copley Place or at Quincy Market. (Yes, I tried both) It's better than the creamed spinach that passes for saag in these here parts, but it's still nothing like the real thing.

  • I was surprised to see how few PLA attendees bothered with the subway system (the "T"). It's the only way I've ever gotten around Boston, and it sure beat making the long trek from our hotel to the Hynes Convention Center across Boston Common in windy 30-degree weather. Okay, I really did need to wake up that morning, but that walk probably wasn't such a good idea.

  • I wish I could remember the name (it started with a "D"...), but there was this Irish pub on an upper floor of a building adjacent to Quincy Market. I had "Boston schrod" with breadcrumb topping. Highly recommended. (Mark tells me it was "Durgin Park" at North Market - sounds right)

  • Boston rush hour starts around 5am.

  • I'm probably too spoiled by ALA and BEA to give a realistic impression of the exhibits. The halls were huge, sure, but where were all the adult trade publishers? Random House had their usual conference spread, I was pleased to see, and I managed to grab all of their relevant summer catalogs. For some unknown reason last fall, they dropped me from their mailing list, which makes it much harder to request ARCs... grr. I also got some ARCs from the Holtzbrinck (St. Martin's/Tor/Forge/etc) booth in exchange for a business card. But Simon & Schuster, Hyperion, and Penguin's booths were quite small, and most only featured children's titles. I saw in the exhibitor list that many trade pubs were first-time exhibitors, which is a good sign. Maybe it means they're taking the library market more seriously. Poisoned Pen Press, a small publisher that does a lot of historical mysteries, was there - I don't work with them personally, but my fellow HNR editor Ilysa Magnus does, and they've been keeping her up to date. For the rest, I'll have to wait for BEA in a couple months. I don't think I'll be attending ALA this year.

  • All of the presenters at the precon (Brad Hooper, Duncan Smith, and authors Ronald Florence and Kathryn Lasky) agreed that historical fiction was finally seeing a long-awaited resurgence among readers.

Madlyn Schneider, chair of the PLA RA committee, sent me a link with some photos from the conference. Bearing in mind that I rarely photograph well, here they are.

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