On the Road – Again!

I’m in Hilton Head, South Carolina (for my sins) enjoying a great night catching up with old friends. Tomorrow all four of us will caravan down to SIBA, the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. It’s on the beach at Naples in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Yeah, life’s rough….

Friday I speak on a panel, and Saturday we get to run through the great hall with a bunch of other bookslingers, snapping up free galley copies and talking trade with the tribe. I’m very much looking forward to it, and there will be a lot to say once we get to the expo, but right now we’re all full of pizza, wine, and girl talk.

So in place of any meaningful blog, let me just tell you my favorite story so far from another friend at another book expo. My friend Jade is a university librarian who travels the world searching for good books for special collections. A veteran of many book conventions, she told me this story, called ARC-gate:

ARCs are advanced reader copies; publishers make them up in droves and hand them out at conventions and trade shows and such. They are coveted by librarians on tight budgets, booksellers on tight budgets, bibliophiles who managed to sneak into the expos… you get the idea. Everybody loves a freebie.

So, although the tribe of bookslingers usually consists of polite, well-mannered people, well, as Michael Moore observed, librarians–no matter how mild they look– are not to be messed with. Especially when their budgets have been cut.

At the expo my friend described, the ARCs were not so plentiful as those who sought them, and a few displays of bad behavior erupted. The word ‘fistfight’ hovered in the background as the lucky, faster few fled with bags stuffed with goodies, while the hesitant (or more polite) stared glumly at spaces where stacks of free books had been.

But the punchline came at the end of the weekend, when one of the more aggressive librarins proudly laid her stuffed-to-the-gills-with-books bag on the scale–

–and got socked with an overweight fine of $150. Which was not reclaimable on her expense form.

As my friend Deb, in whose house we rest tonight, is fond of saying, “Karma’s a bitch.”

(Don’t forget to enter caption contest VI from the August 29 blog! and potential bookshop sitters should read the blog from Friday past for details of how to apply. Thanks!)

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, small town USA

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