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.)
Why 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 Fielding's 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 Love. But 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."