The ARC stops here

I mentioned in my last post I didn’t see a lot of bad blogger behavior regarding ARCs at ALA. But as soon as I posted my piece, I did a search for “ALA book haul” and stumbled upon a video made by a pair of bloggers showing off what they picked up at the conference. This video, which ran nearly 22 minutes long, was a stream of book after book after book after book. Twenty-two minutes of showing off the books picked up at ALA. Badges of honor earned by trekking through the exhibit halls at a professional librarian conference and making sure to plan, to schedule, to arrive at different publisher booths at just the right time to snag what was sought (or not — it doesn’t always matter what the book is, just that it’s a book and it’s there and it’s free and it’s from ALA).

I watched the entire video, both fascinated and appalled.  Fascinated because that was a hell of a lot of books for two people — one copy for each of them — and appalled because of the same reason. This wasn’t promoting the books picked up. It was bragging.

On Sunday of ALA, I had a little free time to do what it was I wanted to do at the conference. After what was an overwhelming opening night of exhibits on Friday, as well as an overwhelming few minutes in the exhibit hall on Saturday morning — overwhelming due to the sheer number of people, the crowds, the inability to move at all down an aisle — I poked my head into the hall and saw it was much calmer. I decided I’d walk around and pick out the few things I was really interested in reading.

Let me back up for a second: on Friday night, during the frenzy, I approached one of the publicists and asked about two books on display. I asked if it was possible to get copies or if they’d be available during the show. Note that when I approached them, I had my single tote bag with two other books in it. I was told they’d be available “sometime later at the convention” and was brushed away. No time frame. No commentary about the books themselves. As much as I walked away frustrated for being dismissed, because I did, I also felt bad for the publicist who did that to me. She was clearly overwhelmed and struggling to avoid being trampled by the hordes. I looked like anyone else at the convention, so she couldn’t know that I was a librarian (AND a blogger). She couldn’t know or take a second to find out that I was on a committee and had to spend most of the open exhibit hall hours in meetings (or preparing for a presentation). She didn’t have a second to stop and talk to me at all. I made a note to myself to come back later and ask again, when things would be calmer.

When I went back on Sunday morning, I approached the same publisher, but a different publicist (one I knew and who knew me well). I asked if she could hook me up with the books I was interested in, and she said was more than happy to. But when she looked through all of the cabinets, she couldn’t find copies of the titles I was interested in. She felt bad for it, and she took me cabinet by cabinet, asking if there was anything else I might be interested in. The bulk of the cabinets were empty. Lucky for me that because she knew me, she took down the titles I wanted and said she’d send them along to me after the show.

It seems wrong that on Sunday morning of ALA — only a day and a half into the exhibit hall hours that ran through Monday afternoon — the cabinets at one of the publisher’s booths were almost empty. This isn’t a small publisher either. This was one of the big six.

But as I watched the 22-minute long video earlier, I saw both books I was interested in showed off by both of the girls. They’d won them! They’d fought hard, they’d stalked the booths, they talked to the right people or pushed the right people out of the way. Whatever the deal, those two non-librarians were able to get the two books I’d wanted from the publisher but was unable to get.

I’m a paying member of ALA and of YALSA and of PLA and of ALSC, and I attended the conference because I had committee obligations this year. Because I’m working. Because I was giving a presentation to librarian colleagues. Money is incredibly tight right now because I’m not working a regular job. I paid out of pocket for my memberships in both associations, as well as for my plane ticket, my hotel room, my transportation to and from the airport, around Anaheim, for my meals. I don’t get reimbursed. Every penny I spent at ALA was a penny I couldn’t spend on other things. Something I’ve talked about before, in what was probably the most personal blog post I’ve ever shared publicly, was the notion that librarianship is a very selfless profession. And it is — librarians go out of their way not only to give back to their field but also to reach out and share with as many people as possible. Librarians work on committees to select the best books of the year in any number of categories. They work to read and promote books among their patrons. To help create their collections. ALA for most librarians isn’t at all about the free books. It’s about working. The books are a part of the whole, and they’re a very small part. Just consider that a committee like mine meets from 1:30 – 5:30 on Saturday and Sunday. That leaves just the morning hours free for perusing the exhibit hall, and even then, those hours are juggled with any number of other responsibilities, meetings, presentations, and so forth.

I understand completely why publishers schedule out their ARC distributions at ALA. I get it. There is only so much space in the booth, some books sit in storage until later on, some are held until the author is on site to do a signing. And I also get that it is impossible to get everything I’m interested in getting. I’m not entitled to it nor do I believe I should be.

The video I watched of two non-librarian professionals coming to a book event was 22 minutes long.

In thinking about how librarianship is a giving field, a selfless field, there’s something really uncomfortable for me in admitting that sometimes, there are ARCs I would really want to pick up at ALA. Even though I’m not working right now, I still need to stay on top of my game with what’s publishing so that when I am working again, I can jump in and be fresh, knowledgeable, prepared to not only develop the best collection I can, but also to book talk and get the titles into teens’ hands. But really? I don’t think there’s anything selfish in saying point blank that there are ARCs I want for myself to read for myself and to blog about for myself. As much as it makes me feel weird and egotistical to say this, I will: my stats and my reviews are solid. I know what the hell it is I am doing and what I’m talking about. Even though I am adamant that I have not sold a book — because selling a book requires that I’ve had the book and got money for its sale — I know my posts and reviews have some influence on getting the word out about books, particularly those lesser-known titles. I want to pick up books at ALA that interest me, that I will be able to get the word out about. I want to have conversations with the publicists at ALA and tell them what it is I am interested in and get their feedback on what’s coming out I should know about. They’re the gatekeepers to knowledge I want in the same way that I am a gatekeeper to the audience they want that knowledge (and product) shared with.

While it’s true I could ask the reps via email for titles anytime, I really don’t LIKE doing that. Likewise, it’s impossible to keep up with the contacts as they change so often and at times those changes mean that I’m treated less-than-kindly by overwhelmed reps who have no idea who I am from anyone else (and I say that because I think I’ve earned my cred as a blogger and shouldn’t be treated the same way someone who “just started” blogging is treated). I want to converse with the reps at ALA. I want to be handed a book, dammit, and I don’t think that I’m being selfish in believing that at my own professional conference — one I am paying a lot to attend as a librarian who is working — I should be able to do that.

Moreover, librarians who are working as part of a committee don’t always get boxes of titles sent to them for consideration. Many of the books they read and talk about come from titles they find via ALA conferences. So while the very librarians who are at ALA working to make the lists of best books work, they’re losing out on the opportunity to discover additional titles for consideration that are available in the exhibit hall. They’re missing out on the chance to talk with the publicity folks. And yes, sometimes titles that end up on an awards list come from the books picked up at a booth in the exhibit hall. Not from a box of books sent to the committee for consideration.

Librarians are missing the chance to pick up a book that they want to read. For themselves.

I do not for a second believe that ALA should be entirely closed off from those who aren’t librarians. I think it’s an incredible convention for those who love books and reading and knowledge and literacy and technology and the many other facets of librarianship interest that exist. It’s valuable for so many people, including teachers and bloggers and those who are simply readers. But know I say this, too, with the mind of a librarian: I want knowledge shared and spread and disseminated in a manner that’s accessible to the most and not the least. It’s an utterly selfless profession and one that gives and gives.

The video I found today, if I can remind you, was 22 minutes long. A laundry list of the books these two bloggers — non-librarians, non-professionals — picked up at ALA.

It’s not going to be easy to find a solution to this, but something needs to be done. I do not for a second believe that all non-librarian/non-teacher/non-ALA members who blog are bad people. What I am saying, though, is those few rotten apples are spoiling this for EVERYONE, and they’re spoiling it for people who are working hard, who should be able to treat themselves to something they are interested in, be it an ARC or be it having a second to talk with a publishing rep. Anyone can get into ALA’s exhibit hall for a mere $25 and some people are abusing that opportunity, taking it as their chance to pick up and carry home as many ARCs as possible. They’re taking away from the folks who are not only spending gobs more money — gobs more of their own money — to attend a professional conference but who are attending it to work to make the profession what it is. To award those books. To spread the word about the things that are coming out. To develop as professionals in librarianship. This is something that needs to be dealt with and it needs to be dealt with at the convention organizer level. That means it needs to be dealt with BY the American Library Association, which works to serve the needs and goals of their members, librarians and library supporters who pay for membership. Who pay for voting. Who pay to have their thoughts heard. Who pay to attend this convention in so many ways.

This isn’t about what you do with your ARCs when you’re done. This isn’t about the “noble causes” bloggers are picking up books for. This is about what the goals of the ALA convention are. What the goals of the publishers are in attending these conventions and distributing these books.

My solution — and note this is my solution and mine alone — is that bloggers/non-professionals who pay the minimum amount to attend the convention be limited to one day attendance at the end of the convention. That they be allowed to attend but that their attendance is after librarians and other professionals using this convention to develop as such have the opportunity to get what it is they need and what it is they want out of their own convention. If they choose to pay the full conference amount or are themselves members of the organization, then they can have full access just as anyone else does. I don’t think this is hard and I do not think it’s at all unfair on any side of the equation. Those who would find this disagreeable are part of the problem.

As a librarian, I know what my influence is, and as a librarian who blogs, I know this even more so (I don’t need to mention in this space the over 500 responses I got within an hour when I tweeted the question of what authors would feel like knowing their book went into the hands of a non-librarian at a librarian conference — it’s not about showing off or bragging but rather that people are listening). I don’t for a second believe I’m being selfish. I believe I’m allowing myself to be a professional librarian. I believe I’m also allowing myself an opportunity to do something for me. And since I’m paying for it, I think I deserve it.

A 22 minute video showing all of those books picked up at ALA by non-librarian bloggers.

I’m a voracious reader and blogger, but even I can’t get through that much. All I was hoping for was a pair of titles from a publisher and the chance to talk with a few others about the things they were most excited about. But I didn’t get the first and I had to fight to get the second.

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    • says

      I see no reason for Kelly to give traffic to bloggers behaving badly. She states how she found the video and the curious could easily find it for themselves.

    • says

      1: The reason I didn't link to it was partially because of what Liviania said in that I didn't want to give it more hits and partially because this isn't JUST about that particular video (it's a single instance of a bigger problem).

      2: I'm not surprised by the hits and the "like/dislike" counts in that six hour frame.

    • says

      That absolutely makes sense, Kelly. If you link to the video you call down wrath on one or two people. If you post on the problem as a whole, you point out the real problem and call for a fix. Great post and an even better solution.

  1. says

    I think that this is absolutely perfect! I will admit that I am a new blogger, and have no credibility yet, and I am ok with that. Even being a new blogger, I agree with your solution, I think it makes the MOST sense! As much as I would want to attend one of these, I also know that as a blogger, it is not 100% imperative that my review be out before the book is launched if it means that a professional is not getting what they need. I think that attending one of these events is an honour, and should be treated as so.

    • says

      "it is not 100% imperative that my review be out before the book is launched if it means that a professional is not getting what they need. I think that attending one of these events is an honour, and should be treated as so." <– this is key. And I do not for a second, as I mentioned, believe bloggers should not be allowed to attend the event. What I'm begging for is courtesy, for respect to what the event really is (it's not a "book event"), for not being selfish, for realizing that there are people working at the convention who lose out when non-professionals "just grab everything." THAT is not okay.

  2. says

    I fully agree with you. I'm just a blogger and am wanting to attend ALA midwinter in Seattle–and not to get enough books for a 22 minute book haul post. No, the reason why I want to go is to meet with the publishers and authors attending, and of course the librarians and bloggers. I *get* that this is a librarian conference and hell yeah, those who pay the $25 fee to get in should have access the last day. or something like that.

    When I saw that vlog, I was sick. Why couldn't they share the books? Why did they each need their own copy? And dear god, WHY did they grab everything in sight? It is so unprofessional and makes me cross-eye with rage. It is NOT right for those two to have done that. ALA isn't a free-for-all conference. It's a conference for librarians, and librarians should get the most out of it. Not bloggers. Not RUDE bloggers.

    Also, what disgusts me, is according to their twitter feed, they will also be at SDCC. I'm not sure if SDCC has ARCs like ALA/BEA, but I think they do? All I can think is: what books are you going to pick up this time? MORE doubles of what you already have?

    This is a novel-sized comment; sorry, I have a lot to say about this topic. I'm still rather annoyed with those two–and I'm not even sure the sister is a blogger. Yeck.

    • says

      Comic-con does have some ARCs. And they are vocal on twitter about seeking out additional books there. I understand being a booklover (hell, we all love books here!), but at some point a line needs to be drawn. Especially at a professional conference when you aren't one of the professionals!


    • says

      "I was sick. Why couldn't they share the books? Why did they each need their own copy? And dear god, WHY did they grab everything in sight? It is so unprofessional and makes me cross-eye with rage. It is NOT right for those two to have done that. ALA isn't a free-for-all conference. It's a conference for librarians, and librarians should get the most out of it. Not bloggers. Not RUDE bloggers."

      That is the heart of the issue. Again, I do not think bloggers should be barred from attending the event. I don't think anyone should be. But something needs to be done to make this behavior end, be it by limiting when non-professionals can attend (and I think this should be the day when there are authors to see and sign, etc) or limiting the quantities of "stuff" non-professionals can walk away with.

    • says

      I haven't seen the video but this is disgusting – one book each? Hardly any bloggers keep ARC's so this is definitely NOT needed. And why do they need to 'seek out' even more when they've already stolen a ton from ALA?

  3. says

    This makes me sad as someone who went to TLA and tried to behave well. I'm sure there were things I could've done better, but I tried to be conscious of the fact that I was a blogger at a conference for librarians.

    • says

      I think that's the key and the thing that bloggers like the girls in video showcase is that they don't understand what the event really is that they've attended.

  4. says

    *sigh* If I am looking at the same video, their twitter stream has a photo of their "haul". By my count, there are over 200 books in the picture. And neither blogger appears to be a librarian, educator, bookseller, or anything besides a blogger. I am hoping that they at least donate the ARCs to teens after they read them.

    I agree with your suggestion that perhaps it's time to limit bloggers without other credentials (library volunteer, teacher, etc) to a single day at the end of the conference.


  5. says

    Thank you for the wonderful post, Kelly.

    This situation reminds me of a trade show and educational conference I used to work/teach at/cover as credentialed media (I wore a lot of hats). For a long time it was closed to digital media (bloggers) but they started opening it up to bloggers a few years back. Quickly, every blogger started flying cross country to the show and stocking up on freebies (including books–a number of large how-to imprints of major publishers participated in this event). (It still boggles my mind how much people would spend to travel to this event just to be the first to show stuff off on their blogs, but anyway…) Well, it got to the point that the show's main audience wasn't getting access to the vendors at all, which created some ugly tension.

    So, what happened because of this behavior? Basically no "stuff" is given out, even to the regular attendees who would be major buyers, and they have very strict media guidelines for behavior, including that you have to step aside if a "real" attendee needs a vendor's attention. (To the point where as credentialed media it was hard to do my job.) And, you can't get in at all as a blogger without going through a credentialing process (it seems that everyone's accepted, but the paperwork is kind of a deterrent for people who aren't serious). None of this is ideal (it sucks), but this is how tense the situation got.

    As an outside observer, It seems that some reasonable guidelines before these get any worse would go a long way to keeping this behavior under control and not ending up in a situation like what I described about where the conference really isn't working for anyone–including its intended audience.

    Personally, I'd thought of going to the ALA mid-winter conference up in Seattle next year (it's only three hours from me) so I could see some folks I know will be there that I know through email. It hadn't occurred to me to go there to stock up on ARCs. (Hell, I don't really even request ARCs, beyond the digital ones, because I can only read a finite number of them and I buy a lot of books–because I actually want to support the book economy.)

    As I've said a time or a thousand, I do not get the obsession with ARCs and why it seems impossible to have a conversation about book blogging without everything heading down ARC Boulevard. *sigh*

    • says

      I'd love to have a normal conversation about Book Blogging! I'm lucky as a lot of the bloggers I talk to are in the UK same as me and we don't get many of the 'big' ARCs – the biggest we got this year was Throne of Glass and the excitement over it was a lot of fun – and I bet every nearly single one reviewed the book, whereas in the US a lot of them aren't read… perhaps it's time for the ARC's to be limited to bigger bloggers and professionals so we can start talking about more interesting things?

  6. says

    I went last year as a library student because I figured I might as well while I had the time and while it was a bit cheaper. I agree that it can get crazy though I think there should possibly be a guest exception. I know a lot of people who have family members who come with them who have an exhibits pass. These people spend some of their time exploring the local area, my mom really enjoyed the exhibits and she picked up a few books of interest to her and some for me that were scheduled for while I was in sessions. I would hate to see people like her not allowed in. She and some other non-professionals there are supporting professionals. Just a thought.

  7. says

    I'm not a librarian. I am a regular ol' book blogger who wants to one day be on the other end of reviews. There is great joy in getting ARCs, and being able to get something before someone else, but this problem is beyond words. But I am not even sure why they were given ARCs, maybe it's just me but if you're not a librarian why are you even allowed at ALA? There are other conferences where you can go and meet publicists/authors/fellow bloggers/other members of the publishing world. I didn't watch the whole video, I have other things to do. From what I saw a lot, if not all, of the titles were also available at BEA. BEA even had a special addition this year just for book bloggers. I say that if you're not a librarian (working or not) you shouldn't be allowed at ALA. You should have to contact the publisher and email your request for certain titles. (This would solve two things- librarians would get what they were looking for and people would not be able to get everything-unless they took the time to email about each specific title). Just my opinion.

  8. says

    I agree that this is an issue. Bloggers seem to have gained this strange sense of power/entitlement that is disproportionate to their actual value to the industry. Part of the problem arose, I suspect, when publishers try to simulate word of mouth marketing via bloggers. I wonder if it's not more hassle than it's worth. People who love a book will tweet, post, and write about–even if they didn't get it for free.

    I hope the ALA addresses this issue but I think the industry has to think about it too. What are we saying about the value of books when self-proclaimed book-lovers are the ones most eager to get them for free?

  9. says

    This is totally bizarro. I agree, Kelly, there has to be some accountability. But I'm also a little confused. I am a blogger, not a librarian, but I am a member of ALA, YALSA, GameRT, NCTE, and ALAN. I strive to connect kids and educators with the latest in books. I did pick up quite a lot at the exhibits, but I also put back titles I was not interested in, or purchased finished copies of books I knew I wanted to keep, especially ones I wanted signed. ARCs I finish reading will be redistributed at author events we will hold for kids later in the year. I was even handed a few titles I took out of politeness, which I will read and pass on. I bought tickets to an event but was also given the opportunity to attend others for free. I'm either just lucky, or well-connected, or a bit of both. I can't decide.

    I did plan on attending ALA again and still plan to be as active and helpful with libraries and librarians as I am with bookstores and booksellers, schools and students, publishers and authors. And while I cannot currently afford to enter library school, that is my goal someday–to be certified to do the things I am already striving to do: spread knowledge, information, and a hunger for literacy.

    That said, if I attend again, will it be more proper to pay the full conference fee if I plan on taking any freebies from the exhibit floor? Will it be more proper for me not to attend at all? I am only an advocate after all, and an associate member, not a professional librarian. I'm not on a committee. I came by my book knowledge as a bookseller and a booklover (quite a painful and expensive hobby though it is turning out to be), not as a student of library science. It sounds like I would be unwelcome without the credibility and a credential, but wait–weren't you one of the people who helped organize the Great YA Blogger Meetup? Still confused.

    Nothing in the ALA's membership guidelines currently prohibits me from becoming a member or attending the conferences. I would be quite sad to see such a thing happen, though I understand the desire for exclusivity. I would have missed hearing great speeches from Blake Charlton, Lois McMaster Bujold, George R. R. Martin, Chris Raschka, Jack Gantos, John Corey Whaley and the Printz honorees. I suppose I had better hang on to those memories of attending the Newbery/Caldecott banquet, as it's beginning to sound like it may be my last if the rules change to preclude my attendance.

    So, as I said, confused. Would I in future have to refuse to accept ARCs at the conference to keep up an appearance that I am attending ALA as a supporter of libraries and not a book-hauling blogger? Or do I continue to accept ARCs from other channels and just avoid going to the conference?

    • says

      I mentioned in my post that I think those who are members of the organization — whether or not this is their profession — are not part of the problem.

    • says

      I appreciate that, but I still feel conflicted. I'll feel better once ALA makes a ruling either way. I really like the idea of making the $25 a one-day pass and/or raising the price for non-members; I think that will deter some (though probably not all).

  10. says

    With roughly eight seconds between books, and allowing 45 seconds for the introduction, that's about 157 books…each.

    Kelly, is the public able to listen in on any of the working meetings while at ALA? Or are they limited to the exhibit halls?

    • says

      They're able to attend working meetings if they pay for the pass to do so. There are three (maybe more?) different levels of passes for ALA: exhibits only ($25), which gets people into the exhibit hall only; exhibits plus ($35, I think), which gets people into the exhibits and the big keynote speakers (and which I purchased because I could not afford a full pass and knew I didn't have time to attend additional sessions — but again, I pay to be in ALA/YALSA/PLA/ALSC and don't feel guilt about it); and a full pass (which I think is $90/$100, somewhere in there), which gets people into everything.

    • says

      For full pass (and Anna's is the membership, non members is 300 after early bird), you can attend any panel, event, or even committe member as long as its not closed. So, yes can attend many BFYA sessions, but not Printz. Also, it's extra for precons and for events like the Printz or Newbery.

    • says

      Two prices are Early bird / Full price
      ALA Personal Member* $220 $235
      ALA Division Member* $215 $230
      ALA Retired Member $185 $200
      ALA Student Member** $95 $120
      Non-Member $300 $320

      Exhibits Only Badge $25 $25
      (Includes access only to the exhibits)
      Exhibits Plus Badge $35 $35 (Includes access to
      the exhibits and the Opening General Session)
      Exhibits Supreme Badge $75 $75 (Includes access to the exhibits, the Opening General Session, and the Auditorium Speaker Series)

  11. Anonymous says

    I am curious to know what you think about people who are not librarians, teachers, or even bloggers, who might go to ALA just to network and pick up books they might want to read? Just for the fun of it.

  12. says

    I was also there attending meetings and presentations, spending most of my vendor floor time talking to vendors we either use or whose services we might be interested in, not tracking down free stuff. When I did ventures into the publisher area to get a single specific ARC, I was appalled to find myself standing in line behind a non-librarian Blogger who had brought a small army of teenagers with her. She was standing there like a general, barking out orders to them from a typed schedule and a floor map, all highlighted and marked up like a battle plan. The kids would run up to her with armloads (it seemed) of free books, pack them into bags at her feet, then run off with their next assignments. In between these interactions, the woman stood there complaining loudly about how "unfair" it would be if bloggers like herself were to be excluded or limited. She went on a diatribe about how important bloggers were to the publishing industry and how her insights were incredibly valuable to librarians, who undoubtedly depended on her commentary when selecting books for their collections. It was morning, and she had bags and bags of books, with more being toyed by her foot soldiers. Do I even need to say how disgusted I was?

    • says

      This shocked me. Why was no one watching the books and making sure they were going to the right people?

      I'm a blogger and I wave my flag proudly but I'm not 'important' to the industry. If bloggers disappeared I'm not sure that many people would notice. I like to think that bloggers as a whole are pretty important in the Self Publishing world but not so important that we should get all high and mighty about it…

    • says

      Really some bad apples spoil it for everyone. :(

      @Vickie – I do think people would notice if bloggers disappeared. In my mind they are word of mouth via the internets. They cross post to amazon, goodreads and other outlets. And I get my book recommendations from book bloggers and those sites, not from newspapers. So they do fill an important niche. But they are the new kids on the block and there's obvious tension there. Mix that with some inconsiderate examples, and yay, book bloggers don't look too good.

  13. says

    I was also there attending meetings and presentations, spending most of my vendor floor time talking to vendors we either use or whose services we might be interested in, not tracking down free stuff. When I did ventures into the publisher area to get a single specific ARC, I was appalled to find myself standing in line behind a non-librarian Blogger who had brought a small army of teenagers with her. She was standing there like a general, barking out orders to them from a typed schedule and a floor map, all highlighted and marked up like a battle plan. The kids would run up to her with armloads (it seemed) of free books, pack them into bags at her feet, then run off with their next assignments. In between these interactions, the woman stood there complaining loudly about how "unfair" it would be if bloggers like herself were to be excluded or limited. She went on a diatribe about how important bloggers were to the publishing industry and how her insights were incredibly valuable to librarians, who undoubtedly depended on her commentary when selecting books for their collections. It was morning, and she had bags and bags of books, with more being toyed by her foot soldiers. Do I even need to say how disgusted I was?

  14. says

    I was also there attending meetings and presentations, spending most of my vendor floor time talking to vendors we either use or whose services we might be interested in, not tracking down free stuff. When I did ventures into the publisher area to get a single specific ARC, I was appalled to find myself standing in line behind a non-librarian Blogger who had brought a small army of teenagers with her. She was standing there like a general, barking out orders to them from a typed schedule and a floor map, all highlighted and marked up like a battle plan. The kids would run up to her with armloads (it seemed) of free books, pack them into bags at her feet, then run off with their next assignments. In between these interactions, the woman stood there complaining loudly about how "unfair" it would be if bloggers like herself were to be excluded or limited. She went on a diatribe about how important bloggers were to the publishing industry and how her insights were incredibly valuable to librarians, who undoubtedly depended on her commentary when selecting books for their collections. It was morning, and she had bags and bags of books, with more being toyed by her foot soldiers. Do I even need to say how disgusted I was?

  15. says

    I think your idea of limiting non-professional (librarians/pre-service librarians/teachers/members of ALA/etc.) to one day–the last day–of ALA is a great idea. It would solve many issues including overcrowding, lack of ARCs for professionals who want to preview them for their media centers, ARC-grabbing-overexcitement, and overworked publicists. Bloggers are important to the industry but BEA is for the industry. ALA is for library professionals. There's a distinction. (And I'm speaking as a teacher/blogger.)

    • Anonymous says

      This is interesting. I had never heard of BEA before, only ALA. (I was told about it by an author friend who was attending).

      Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was something JUST for the public, the "book end-user" to treat the authors/illustrators/publishers like the rockstars they are, no matter what their own profession? Even BEA sounds like it's got a distinct separation between "pros" and "civilians" and isn't really just for fans of books.

    • says

      Hee hee! There are loads of "book end-user" events out there! If only we could attract more of the public to them. They're called author visits and bookstore signings!

  16. says

    As for the two girls in the video, at least one of them is 26 (I don't know how old the other is). I can say with conviction as a 26 year old, I have learned how to share by now.

  17. says

    I am not a librarian but someday I plan to become one and so this debate interests me.

    Currently I am on a teen advisory board at my local library. At this board, we discuss library events, books, and sometimes get ARCs. This past week our librarian went to ALA, where she planned to pick up some books for the teens. Our last advisory meeting was yesterday. The librarian told us about ALA and then took out a box with about 5 books. She had managed to get one title that all the teens wanted. The reason for this? She was in committee meetings most of the time and by the time she was able to get to the exhbits most books had been cleared out.

    • says

      I'm surprised that at least a couple of boxes of books weren't reserved for the industry professionals that were in meetings. It sounds like it's not just the bloggers to blame, when no one is bothering the regulate, what can we expect?

  18. Anonymous says

    Isn't there an Exhibits Roundtable that includes vendors? What type of influence do they have over policies? I'm just trying to find some type of constructive solution here since I've heard so much about this lately.

  19. says

    Kelly, I think your propoased solution is a good one. I'm a librarian (and a blogger), and have been to ALA Annual and Midwinter a few times. It seems reasonable to me that Exhibits-Only passes be valid only for a day at the end of the conference. Or perhaps just not valid for the evening when the exhibits open? My question is, what's the best way to bring this to the attention of ALA? It does seem that, as Anonymous (8:08) suggests, the Exhibits Round Table would be a good place to start.

  20. Jenny R says

    I wonder if bloggers are really only part of your competition. I know many of my fellow academic librarians who look forward to the mad ARC dash and who probably are even a bigger problem for you because they are just getting them to bring back as gifts and personal reading. At least the bloggers give the publishers and authors a little promotional value. As a career-long academic and special librarian, I really did not understand what professional value ARCs had. Maybe we aren't taking 200 at a haul, but we are a huge part of the attendee pool and I bet many of us had no idea we were creating a problem for other colleagues. I never really got into it myself, because it's not what I generally read, but I wonder if bloggers are the ones ruining it for you.

    • says

      That's a fair point; certainly there were instances of less-than-ideal librarian behavior at previous ALAs before book blog attendees became widespread.

  21. says

    Since this post has generated so many comments, it is obvious that you have hit an important point. I, myself, jumped right on Google to find this 22 minute video. I found it a bit in poor taste, but I wasn't as offended as some. Why?….. because while I hold teaching certification as a media specialist, and work as a reading specialist, I think each of us has a role in the bibliosphere and beyond.

    Perhaps these young girls have a circle of friends/readers who will be influenced by them. This is all the publishers want. I purchased 15 classroom sets of various titles that I read this past year in my role. I speak daily with numerous kids. I take work home at night. I donate hours and $$$ to the cause of reading and book love. Yet, I am willing to let the folks who choose to follow my blog decide if I'm their cup of tea or if they'd rather identify with a young girl (former Borders book seller if you read her bio) who just simply loves books.

    And while I agree that there are some manners that must be upheld when collecting swag from publishers, I hope she will learn this along the way and that we can all embrace our fellow bibliogeeks; be they librarians, teachers, book sellers, parents, etc…..

    • says

      The publishers may only be interested in sales, but I think you're missing the point that the conference is not FOR the publishers, it's for the librarians and members of the ALA. This isn't a book event that is intended to spread the love for books, although that is a wonderful side effect. It's an event that is geared towards professional development and networking with vendors for a specific career field.

    • says

      True, but ALA is also marketed to educators and book sellers through various means (newsletters, advertisements, etc…). Perhaps ALA needs to change their criteria (which was part of Ms. Jensen's post's points also). I bet I received twenty different enticements to attend through non-librarian publications.

  22. says

    I like your idea of changing the entrance qualifications for the exhibit hall and limiting bloggers to the last day. Talks etc sound like they should be kept open though – I've read some great blogger posts that have come from those.

  23. says

    Yeah, I'm a pretty new blogger and I've found the attitude about ARCs really interesting. I will admit when I first started by blog and found out about Netgalley, I went a little crazy. But the longer I've been working on my blog and reading other blogs, I've realized that ARCs aren't the most important thing, and while I do have some ARCs from librarians (I'm actually in library school) I actually find I've been more interested in reading and reviewing older books lately.

    And as a student studying library/information science, it's frustrating seeing the attitude of the bloggers in that video and on their blogs. They described it as a "book conference" and while I've never been to an ALA conference, I know librarianship is more than just books. There does need to be some way to monitor the exhibit hall.

  24. says

    Okay, I just started watching that video and had to stop it 59 seconds in. What is the point of a video like that? It's not to promote books they're excited about – they're not saying anything about the books at all. And WHY do sisters EACH need a copy of those books? WTF? I thought maybe I'd watch it to see if there are books I want to look out for in the fall, but no. I can't watch that.

    • says

      I stopped at about that point as well. They are just bragging. If they'd done a series of smaller videos, showcasing each book, that would have at least been beneficial to the authors. But, no such luck.

      The bottom line is that ANYONE can be a book blogger. How many more "book bloggers" had a similar haul but haven't posted videos about it? And our librarians and teachers walk away empty handed.

      I agree with the idea that the last day of ALA should be open to the blogging community.

  25. says

    I agree with you 100% and think your solutions are great ones. I hear bloggers brag all the time about what they get at ALA and some have even suggested they shouldn't have to pay the $25 exhibit fee because they are so valuable to the book industry they should be treated like professionals. OK, you want to be treated like the pros? Pay the full reg fee like we do! Just let the public in for the last day seems like a good compromise. ALA is a private conference for members of a profession, not a public free-for-all. Ridiculous.

    • says

      Good points! Although BEA is considered a trade show, I treated it like a professional conference. But it was interesting speaking to some bloggers and realizing they didn't have to pay anything to get in? Although I paid the 'librarian' price. I will echo you in saying, "Ridiculous!"

    • says

      I think it's silly that bloggers don't have to pay to get into BEA. I'm a blogger and have an MLS; when I went to BEA I was working as a librarian and went as a librarian out of a sense of professional pride. I paid accordingly when I could have got in for free. It's not that much anyway, and after hotel and meals and everything else you have to spend for a week in NYC, what's the big deal? It is a professional show, similar to ALA anyway and nothing wrong with treating it as such.

    • says

      Bloggers are going to have to pay starting next year for BEA. They were supposed to start paying this year, but because the change was announced so late and many people had already booked their trips having budgeted them around the free passes, they decided to allow the free passes for those who already registered prior to the announcement. But in 2013, bloggers will be required to pay to attend.

  26. says

    I tweeted about this extensively last night, but I agree that it's a problem, and one that needs to be addressed at the higher levels of convention organization. I don't have time to rehash everything I tweeted—and expressed better—last night, so if you're interested in that discussion, I created a Storify of my tweets and responses:

    • Anonymous says

      This is all so very sad and disturbing. I even overheard a couple of women talking about their books and they were NOT bloggers or Librairians. Bragging about the books they had.

  27. says

    I happened to come across this blog post via Twitter and find what you have to say extremely interesting. I am a librarian, too, though very new to the profession and only just joined ALA and YALSA recently so I haven't had much opportunity to become really involved with them yet (though I intend to). I'm also a newer book blooger, having only started mine in October of 2011.

    I agree with your sentiments about what the ALA conferences are about at heart – the professional development of librarians so that we can continue to be a relevant force and tool in our communities, even in these changing times. I myself wasn't able to attend for a variety of reasons (one being that I have to pay for conferences out of my own pocket) and I'm sad I couldn't go for a variety of reasons. One of course being the opportunity for ARCs (both for things I'm interested in as well as for my students), but also for the chance to network with other librarians who are as passionate about patrons and connecting readers with great works as I am.

    It's not an all-you-can-grab buffet for free ARCs. I can understand that it must be an incredible rush to be in a room full of so many books and that temptation to get your fill must be high. Bloggers should get access to them because they do play an impact in what gets read and forming the opinions of others, but as the saying goes, everything in moderation. It's a difficult situation to be sure because we librarians battle so many negative stereotypes as it is, to put restrictions on non-librarian attendees could put a poor taste in people's mouths and only add to the harsh image of the shushing librarian.

    In short, I agree that this is something that absolutely needs to be addressed and something must be done, but until an official decision can be made, we must all act reasonably and respectfully towards others in the book community.

    • says

      I was thinking of how to format my own opinion on this post when I read your comment. Well said. ALA does seem to me to be primarily for librarians (I've never been and I am a book blogger), but access to non-librarian attendees shouldn't be cut because of a couple of extreme examples. I also agree that the issue is something that should be addressed, reasonably and respectfully. We're all book lovers here.

  28. says

    A couple of things here, and I think there have been some really well-stated comments already.

    A. Yes, ALA is a librarian conference, and there are people specifically there to do good, important work. As a teacher, I understand being underappreciated and underpaid. I have no real desire to attend ALA or the like as blogger or teacher. In my opinion, it’s for people specifically in that industry. One thing I’ve learned as a blogger is that those ARCs are always an option, whether it’s at a conference or not, whether I want them or not.

    B. I attended BEA as a teacher/blogger/editor. BEA is a trade show. I do think there’s a distinction there. I think, too, that in this day and age, many people wear different hats. You were at ALA as a committee member, but you also state you aren't working a regular job right now. There have also been many comments here from library students who are right now *only* bloggers. I think it's important to note that. Just because they weren’t on a committee shouldn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same access as you to learn what’s big/hot/trending and to be able to be relevant in a field they’ll soon enter.

    C. Though I'm really conservative when it comes to the "ARC" business, let's not pretend that bloggers are the only ones who do this. I know many librarians, and plenty of them are getting ARCs not only for themselves but for friends and family. I'm not saying that's wrong per se, but there are librarians as well who are quote unquote "grabbing." They may not be posting long videos about it, but that's likely because they realize that their behavior is…tacky. Yes, they've paid hefty fees to attend, but the publishers are also spending some change to produce those books that may never end up being used to bolster books for library committees.

    And let’s be honest, how do you really control this behavior? Even if there were rules, there are constantly rule breakers, especially when it comes to anything being offered for “free.”

    Ultimately, unless everyone in this mixed-up, crazy model is willing to do away with ARCs and truly “stop the ARC here,” this behavior will continue. As someone who has to build a classroom library with zero funds (except from my own empty pocket), I truly do understand the frustration. But I’d also be willing to bet the book you wanted and didn’t get is likely an email away.

    • Anonymous says

      In response to C, bloggers definitely weren't the only ones over grabbing. I saw one librarian grab THREE copies of Unravel Me when they were set down on Sunday morning.

    • says

      I totally agree with you about bloggers not only being the 'grabbers.' There were plenty of librarians at BEA this year, that should have been shame-faced for how greedy they were. I experienced it at the Children's Book Breakfast as well, with Librarians going from table to table grabbing swag from the premiere tables. It's ridiculous!

    • says

      "B. I attended BEA as a teacher/blogger/editor. BEA is a trade show. I do think there’s a distinction there. I think, too, that in this day and age, many people wear different hats. You were at ALA as a committee member, but you also state you aren't working a regular job right now. There have also been many comments here from library students who are right now *only* bloggers. I think it's important to note that. Just because they weren’t on a committee shouldn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same access as you to learn what’s big/hot/trending and to be able to be relevant in a field they’ll soon enter."

      I would say that library science students aren't "only bloggers" and agree that they should have full access to all that goes on at the conference–so does ALA, which offers discounted rates to student members. I would also say that people who are active in the field and members of ALA (and there are some people who meet that criteria and aren't professional librarians or employed as librarians at the moment) should also probably enjoy that same access. I don't think anyone would argue that these people should have full access to the conference proceedings–Kelly certainly isn't.

      I do think the distinction of committee members from other attendees with full conference access is a bit misinformed; committee members don't really have some "extra" access pass in any way and Kelly isn't advocating for that–she didn't mention it at all here, at least. Committee membership means that you've got EXTRA commitments at the conference and huge chunks of your time are booked–it really reduces your access to everything else going on (so does presenting). In other words, they've got way less access to the exhibits than someone who buys a pass for the exhibit hall. Likewise, those who spend most of their time at the conference attending and presenting sessions also have less access to exhibits than someone attending solely the exhibit hall.

      I would heartily agree that there's a distinction between BEA as a trade show and ALA as a conference. ALA is a major academic conference in the field of library science; the programs and sessions are a huge part of what ALA is and it's a time to meet other librarians and think about and discuss what's going on in the field and where it's going. The exhibit hall is a place for vendors and publishers to communicate directly with librarians and when the hall is just a chaotic environment, there isn't time for that.

  29. Casey says

    If I counted correctly, they had 159 books. How did they even carry them?

    I like your solutions. In fact, that what most professional conferences in other countries are doing – having one or two days open to the public at the end of a conference. Works out fine with everyone.

    As for other comments on this post: I don't think it would be a good idea to ban bloggers. Both sides can benefit from each other. You will always have a few bad apples.

  30. Casey says

    Aw, another thing about the ARCs: don't conference members get a special badge or something? Maybe this way publishers could set aside a certain amount for non-conference members/bloggers, and the rest of the free ARCs will be handed out only if you show them your badge.

  31. says

    I ran into this problem with my sister last year actually. I brought her to Book Expo as a graduation present (since she wants to be an editor, worked in her HS library as her internship and wanted to take an active role in the blog) and I thought I had stressed to her that she needed to not go crazy spades. She still ended up getting somewhere around 150 books (by herself) and I was mortified. I sat her down and convinced her to donate most of the books–especially any duplicates to the ones I had, because I would share with her–to her school library since the budget was cut and they couldn't get new books (practically their entire YA section came from my shelves as I got rid, donated and bought books for them).

    This year's BEA we had a plan–since we weren't going to be hanging about each other too much any unsigned duplicate ARC's we got we'd donate to her old library. Any ARC's that we both wanted we coordinated and got the ARC signed to both of us (unless it was something super special, like my Shannon Hale ARC). Finished copies we agreed to get our own copies of signed to ourselves. And some finished copies of we got duplicates of because now she works in a Used Book Store and is mostly in charge of the YA section.

    I can understand that maybe the sisters didn't want to share, but at the same time from the way the video seemed they didn't share in the blog either. Neither mentioned an aspirations towards a career in publishing or in libraries. Neither seemed very inclined to want to donate their books either (though that's assumption on my part since I don't remember them mentioning it either).

    I can also understand planning their schedule meticulously. I'm infamous for plotting every last second of my Book Expo experience–color coordinated schedule chart, back up plans, networking with others to hit the 'big drops'. I understand that. I need structure in my life, even in my relaxing time, so for me its less about 'making the most' and handling the anxiety I knew would come with not having a plan. That isn't what they sounded like, they sounded like the women at my job who plot out Black Friday–which store will 'give' the best, which store will have the most etc.

    And I even understand their enthusiasm because its such a big deal. My first Book Expo was overwhelming–so was my second matter of fact. I definitely got in over my head and fell into the moment.

    What i'm finding hard to stomach is that they're so gleeful over what essentialy is them explaining their mercenary tactics. ALA has firmly, and frequently, made it clear that the annual (and midwinter) conferences are PROFESSIONAL events. They have panels, workshops, discussions and what have you geared towards helping the PROFESSIONAL. Unlike Book Expo, which is so confused over what it wants to be and RWA, which straddles the line of both professional/fan pretty well in my opinion, ALA has never been unclear on that.

    The fact these two didn't seem to grasp that is alarming–it makes me wonder if they even know what they went to. Was it just a 'convention' to them? A Giant Symposium of Free Books? Did they even attempt to go to the meetings or panels (which make me drool, even though I'm not a Librarian)?

    I feel bad for the publicists and for them. If they had come away with half their 'haul' or made some effort to show that they aren't just there for the 'freebies', or acknowledged they went crazy and want to share their 'haul' with others (whether through donations or Pay it Forward or what have you) they wouldn't have been so derided. Unfortunately they make everyone even attempting to be mature about things look like tools.

  32. says

    The video is quite frankly embarrassing, how could anyone have the guts to post of video of themselves with two copies of books in limited supply? The mind boggles.

    Considering everything you've said, and you've made some very good points, although I'm not familiar with the conference I would agree with your idea. Yes, it means some of the more well-meaning (dare I say "properly focused") bloggers might miss out and that would be a shame, but if you can't do what you should be able to do then that's neither here nor there. It's no better than gatecrashing really.

  33. says

    Thanks so much for writing on this topic. I experienced this at my very first professional conference: BEA. I don't have anything against bloggers either, but as librarians we treat these conferences as more professional than just an avenue to get free books. For instance, when I attended the YA Editor's Buzz, I basically got shoved and almost trampled at the ARC booth afterward. Needless to say, I was really turned off by how a lot of people acted at this conference. I had no idea that it would be the same at ALA, which makes me wonder if I ever want to attend one of their conferences or not. Greed is so unnecessary in a field where we want to provide as much knowledge as we can for the public. I agree with you, bloggers should be limited to one day for the exhibits, etc. It seems like the greediness is getting out of hand, and if this continues a lot of professionals aren't going to attend these events anymore.

  34. says

    A tricky subject, for certain. I appreciate your candid comments and all that folks have said here. I attended ALA for the first time last week (only Saturday) and paid only for exhibits. I currently don't work in YA services, but in an academic library (despite my best efforts to change that). I tried to limit what I took, especially thinking about those who had committee meetings and other obligations. I still came away with too much. It's a difficult problem exacerbated by a very few bloggers and librarians and other people. I do hope some kind of solution is reached and that all of us can learn from our experiences and the mistakes of others.

  35. says

    Good post. I think this is an important conversation to have, and I think you did a good job framing it not as a "librarians vs. bloggers" controversy but rather as a question for discussion: how can librarians get the most out of ALA while still including other groups?

    It really is a very tough call. While ALA is first and foremost a professional conference for librarians, it's also one of the few times each year when publishers leave their NYC offices and get to meet readers from around the country face to face – bloggers and educators included – and that's when some really great conversations about books take place. I'd hate to see that aspect of the exhibit hall limited.

    That being said, as a publisher with a limited number of ARCs, I want to make sure that we get librarians the resources they need. And I say "resources" because I think that for librarians, ARCs are more than just advance reader copies – they are tools for collection development, reader advisory, and programming – and I think that is a distinction that has to be made.

    I don't know what the best solution is. I like the idea of opening the exhibit hall up beyond librarians for one day, but I also think a lot of attendees fall into a gray area where they are not librarians but do work with books professionally (local or self-published authors, booksellers, teachers, just to name a few) and it might get tough to draw the line about who is allowed when. And I also wonder if bigger author signings might end up being all concentrated on that open day then, too, instead of being spread throughout the weekend. These aren't reasons not to do it, just things to think about.

    In an ideal world I think the answer would just be for everyone to be respectful, and I think that by and large that does already happen and that the bloggers you mentioned were an anomaly, not the norm.

    But this is definitely a topic that demands more conversation. Mainly this is just to say that as publishers, we hear you, and we're thinking about it.

    Hannah (Lee & Low Books)

  36. Anonymous says

    I watched the whole video, and I have to say they did seem interested in reading "most" of the books. They also seems pretty knowledgable about the authors. And isn't that what is the most important? To get books into reader's hands?

  37. Jenny R says

    So… what would work? It seems to me that advance access for folks who will *use* the ARCs in library work should get priority over *everyone* else at ALA, whether that everyone else is non-library bloggers or other librarians who just want free reading material. So how to make that work. How about borrowing from other trade shows and have "preview" time for people with specific credentials like membership in specific ALA divisions? Then those divisions could specifically NOT have committee meetings during that time – it would be the time for those folks to go do ARC business. As BUSINESS. Which is what it is. I think something based on trying to distinguish between different kinds of physical badges when everyone is mixed into the exhibit floor together is not going to work – too hard to see badges in the crowd. ALA could convene a task force with reps from the key divisions and the vendor round table to do some brainstorming and come up with some proposals to improve things next year. FWIW, access to something like "ARC preview" could be a perk of membership that the divisions could really use right now.

    While I'm interjecting in this discussion about which I know almost nothing (!), I'm also really curious about the importance of physical ARCs still being so high. Are there reasons why services like NetGalley haven't wiped this problem out?

    • Anonymous says

      How about hand out the ARCs at the conference sessions, where only the fully-paid attendees can get them? Then have a "no thanks" table available somewhere so that those who don't want their copies can pass them along to expo-only folks.

  38. says

    Jenny, paper ARCs are valuable in libraries because they're sharable, and because you don't have to own an ereader to read it. Not everyone has or wants an ereader; paper galleys sit in the staff room, get passed around, help lots of library staff preview and sample lots of books. E-copies usually expire and generally for practical reasons are limited to a single reader/person. Paper ARCs can also be used as prizes or programming tools. they are very important professional tools for those in the book industry.

  39. says

    Kelly –

    I've debated posting and commenting because I don't want what you are saying and what I am saying to come across personally and in the ways of the interwebs, that just doesn't work sometimes.

    I actually find this post to be a bit reprehensible for several different reasons.

    1) Judgement Factor – A brief 22 minute video where they 'brag' about their spoils of ALA war says absolutely nothing about why they got so many books, where the books were going, or how the books would be used. The blogger is a previous bookseller so she does know a little about the industry and her sister came in for the conference. But really, it is not our job to judge why they got what they did. It's not even our business. But in this internet day and age, we feel entitled to speak our opinion and they did so with their video and you did with your post. But again, not my business. They did not ruin my experience or take away from the conference.

    2) Solutions – ALA will not be handling this problem. Why? Well because they are receiving hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars from these Exhibits passes, of which I as a professional librarian had, and I doubt they will cut that just so that we have, to be put plainly, more access to free books.

    Instead, I think that Little Brown has one of the best models of any exhibiting publisher as they give a form that must be filled out and only dropped books when an author was signing. I found the experience to be quite pleasing for us both and I enjoyed my time at their booth.

    But one key thing to remember is that, and I am on the total side of the publisher, publishers determine drop times, some even give out the books by hand, and it is not ALA's job to determine how/if/when/where/why ARCs are to be distributed. Their job is to create book buzz and they know that librarians are key stakeholders in their future. But so are bloggers, voracious readers, teachers, and the like. So to say that only librarians be allowed at the conference or ALA members (not sure if you said or others at this point) is a statement that shows this profession as being tyrannical, elitist, and stuffy. All of these things I hope never to be.

    I have many contacts in the industry and while they were exhausted, I would assume that many of them would find their conference successful and I can assure you that they too are concerned about who is getting copies of their books and what to do. But I feel it is their problem to worry about, not the ALA.

    3) 'She got THREE copies' – So what? Maybe she had a friend in another line, or as in my case for Unravel Me, was in the hotel room nursing a really bad headache and couldn't be there. So, while I know my co-worker was judged for 'GASP' getting two copies, it still ended up in the right hands. Again, not our place to judge or even our business.

  40. says

    4) Other things – The bitching and whining (which I know you never did but that is what comment threads, twitter, and other social media forms have turned it into) does not help our point that we need the ARCs sometimes for professional development. The easiest thing to do for the publishers to eliminate this bad press is to just pull the books completely and ONLY talk about what is coming out. After all, we receive reviews ahead of time, we have access to publisher websites with excerpts, and we have other resources that bloggers/non-librarians/others do not have access too. So, in a way, the ARC is actually just a perk, not a necessity.

    I work at a smaller library system but I have still, over the course of two ALA Annuals and a series of emails, been able to keep a wonderful working relationship with the Big 6 as well as several other smaller presses and before I even left for ALA received a box of their upcoming books with notes like, "Here Steph…didn't want you to pay shipping" and "to alleviate my tote bag shoulder, try these". This is not a brag but just saying that the ARC frenzy/issue is a moot point if you have the ability or opportunity to network well. I have been very, very blessed and I am very grateful to those publicists and marketing directors for being so kind to me.

    Lastly, in a day and age where our MLIS degrees are becoming more and more of a burden and people struggle to find employment or a salary that will even pay their loans, the last thing we want to do as a profession is to make others feel alienated from working in a place as wonderful as a library. Instead, this is an opportunity to say to those, "Hey! You love books? Me too! Have you ever thought about library school or even joining ALA as a student member to help these conferences exist?".

    And lastly, for those of you passing judgement calls on a 200 book grab…last year at ALA NOLA, I came home with 238 titles. Yes, 238. I also attended 8 sessions, served on the Local Arrangements Committee, and spent a lot of time exploring New Orleans. Why did I get so many and grab everything I could? Because I have a 10 branch system and they all have teens who love to read. Do I need to justify myself to anyone? Absolutely not. I did a conference, got lots of free books and swag, and met a ton of people. It can be done. And I have no regrets because our entire teen prison was founded because of those ARCs.

    And for those of us with professional reputations, join Edelweiss or NetGalley and get books through those sources. There is no need to wait once a year to start finding books.

  41. says

    And as I re-read your post, I readily admit that it isn't the post in its entirety that I take issue with but rather the culmination of thoughts from the post and the commenters.

  42. says

    I am hearing a lot of feedback from various sources that bloggers are upset that librarians aren't recognizing them as legitimate sources of book reviews and that librarians aren't more excited that bloggers share their love for reading. As a librarian and book blogger, I would ask that bloggers also ask themselves why they aren't showing more respect for librarianship as a profession. As book bloggers, we do have an insider knowledge of what all goes into the publishing world, but I'm seeing a lot of misinformation about librarians being thrown around (ie: librarians have their ALA memberships paid for; librarians don't need ARCs; libraries don't use ARCs; etc). I feel like bloggers are ignoring the issue that most librarians are raising which is that a lack of respect is being shown for librarianship as a profession. There's a lot of "you're just jealous" and a complete refusal to accept the idea that this is a person's career, not just a hobby. I think librarians would be a lot more open to bloggers in general if bloggers weren't framing this as a jealousy issue and actually addressed the idea that this is a professional conference intended for career development. I also think a recognition that a lot of time and education and money goes into becoming a librarian would go a long way. What bothers me is not that a few greedy people took some ARCs, but that book bloggers seem to completely misunderstand the point of librarianship and of conferences like ALA and don't seem to care to listen when librarians try to explain it.

    • says

      Well I'm a book blogger and I think librarians are awesome. Are there examples of this disrespect? I wasn't aware of this going on. That's sad, I'd hate there to be a book bloggers vs. librarians divide.

    • says

      I know that you're right. That there's a lot of general misunderstanding about what it is librarians actually do and how involved and difficult the job actually is and, in many cases, a lack of respect for librarians from bloggers. And as a blogger who has worked with librarians (Kelly included) on the Cybils panel, this always makes me sad to hear as I recognize what an important and should-be-respected job it is that librarians have. I don't use the library as much as I used to (mostly because I'm awful about returning things on time; it honestly gets cheaper for me to just buy the books), but my hometown public library was a HUGE part of me growing up and fostering my love of books, stories, reading. To this day when I remember or reread a book I loved as a kid, I think of the incredible librarians who worked there.

  43. Anonymous says

    I think one of the easiest ways to fix this would just be to base it on the types of passes. As it was posted upthread, the exhibit passes (which gets you access to all those free ARCs) is only $25-$75. That, I think, should be limited to one day toward the end of the conference. Those that spring for the bigger levels (not just exhibit, exhibit plus, or exhibit supreme) are likely spending hundreds of dollars (many out of pocket) just to attend the conference. Registration for the rest of the conference, such as the meetings, round tables, etc, ranges from $185 to $235 for non-students. Non-members are allowed to register for the whole shebang for $320. I think those that register for the whole conference should be the ones that get access to the exhibit hall for the duration. That way, everyone wins, and it should be simple enough to implement. Those that just want to get in for as cheap as possible and score a billion ARCs can do that on the last day for $25. Those that register for the whole conference (whatever their status – librarians, educators, students, aspiring librarians) and pay hundreds will get access earlier/longer. Non-members that really just want to get in for the whole thing can do so, but there is an associated fee that should dissuade the greedy grabbers.

    I'm not against bloggers getting ARCs at all, but as many before me have pointed out, this isn't really the venue for that. This is a professional conference for librarians. I wouldn't dream of attending another profession's biggest annual conference, paying the minimum to get through the door, and then greedily grabbing all the free swag I could while the actual professionals (or aspiring professionals, or any of those interested in the profession) were in meetings or presentations.

    For what it's worth, I'm an academic librarian, and I do peruse the ARCs for my personal reading, but I limit myself to taking home 5 fiction books, and I'm generally more focused on talking to the big academic database vendors anyway. I sometimes even feel guilty about taking my 5, since I know public librarians and YA librarians need them so much more than I do.

    Of course, I've seen plenty of librarians guilty of the greedy grabber behavior, but no solution will be able to totally solve this problem without even more draconian measures like scanning badges, limiting people to 1 copy, etc, and I really feel like things on that level won't work anyway because it would be up to the vendors to enforce. Restricting access to the hall based on registration is easiest and makes the most sense to me.

  44. says

    What about the bloggers that pay ALA and YALSA fees as well? I put hundreds of dollars into the institution because I believe in it and appreciate their lists and outreach to teens. (of course I also never take more that 15 books at any conference…)

    • says

      I answer this question in my post: "If they choose to pay the full conference amount or are themselves members of the organization, then they can have full access just as anyone else does."

  45. says

    This is exactly why when I attend BEA or ALA I pay the full admission. I want to give back to the event or the members of the organization hosting. I could accept the media pass but I don't. I realize I'm lucky to be in that position.
    I'm a former middle school English teacher. I remember saving to attend conferences to get better at my profession & giving inservices during the conferences which equaled no time on the expo floor.
    It's sad you were not rewarded for both your hard work and for your blogging experience.
    I feel like there needs to be outreach explaining the value of an ARC to everyone. Also, the two bloggers involved are new to blogging from what I've heard. I hope everyone can treat them with compassion. If you must leave a comment on their blog or youtube video, let's not get nasty about it.(FYI: I'm not referring to this post. I totally get your frustration Kelly.) Maybe reach out & explain researching upcoming releases prior to attending a conference & that conferences are more about networking and making PR contacts than getting the arcs themselves. New Bloggers need to know this stuff.

  46. says

    I fully agree. I cannot attend places like ALA and BEA because, quite simply, I'm English and poor. It does disgust me slightly when I see the after-BEA posts and bloggers have stacks and stacks of free books – we're talking 50+ books here, 80% of which will never be read. Perhaps places like BEA should have a system in place were every book taken is logged somehow and there's a limit to how many each blogger can have, say 20. Perhaps more for librarians etc. I can't see any blogger needing more than 20 books…

  47. says

    I think if you're marketing yourself as a blogger and grabbing ARC's, you're saying that you're mature enough to do this. So you're mature enough to face the repercussions if you mess up.

  48. says

    Although I've seen bits of this debate on twitter and facebook, I never actually read the initial post until now. I have to say, as an author, it made me feel immensely sad. I'm self-pubbed and, as such, book blogs are desperately important to me. They're how I get the word out, let people know that my book is worth reading and where it's available. I naively thought when I first started down this journey that everyone was in it for the love of books and that it would be hard work but ultimately rewarding. The few book bloggers that I've spoken to have been wonderful – warm and enthusiastic and all about the books. It makes me sad to think that any writing of mine would end up in the hands of people who just want the prestige and the free copies. It almost makes me quiver with shame that I have to go to them cap in hand to ask them to read my work if that's their attitude because the truth is that I'm relying on the kindness of strangers to take a chance on me. I don't know them from Adam. I sincerely hope that bloggers who are in it only for the hauls they can get are very much in the minority and that the kindness I have been shown by the ones that have read my books is very much the norm.

  49. says

    I do think ALA could take a note from other similar conferences, like San Diego Comic-Con, and have professionals only windows. There are preview nights, and professional only times, at many major comics conventions, where the demand is just as high (if not higher) for talking with reps, seeing previews, and getting giveaways. Now, admittedly, comics conventions rarely have anything free (you buy most items, believe me), but having that professional/industry time really helps. If attending librarians knew that particular times were for ALA members only, and the publishers knew that, I think some balance could be reached.

  50. says

    I attended ALA too and saw a lot of people with massive hauls of books, and I'm really conflicted on this situation. On one hand they paid for the pass, on the other hand librarians who had to attend sessions missed out on some of the books. I'm not a blogger, but I went with my friend who is a librarian.

    However, as someone who was walking the floor on Saturday I noticed that I was treated very differently by publicists when they thought I was a book blogger. At the beginning of the day, when I had no books in my only tote bag, and I asked for a copy of the one book I really wanted from the conference I was quickly dismissed. The publicist didn't look twice at me when she told me she was out for the day. When I returned to the SAME booth at the end of the day, my tote bag now pretty full from signings and swag, I was treated by the SAME woman very differently. She assumed I was a blogger because of my haul and hunted through the cabinets and even opened a box for me until she found an ARC of the book I wanted. The only thing on my badge was my name.

    It's interesting – when I looked at the marketing plan on the back of a lot of these books, it said that there would be a "Huge Blogger Outreach." Very few said anything about libraries.

    It's also worth mentioning that if you just want an Expo pass for all THREE days at ALA it's only $25.00. To attend the sessions it's much, much more. It's almost as if they're asking for non-librairans to attend. To come for the ARCs and the ARCs alone.

    The priorities and outreach on behalf of the publishers are pretty clear here.

    Now, do I think what the girls did was right? No – they won't be able to read all those books by their release date and that's the main issue. Were they the only bloggers who I saw leave the conference with more than eighty books? Absolutely not. They are not the exception by any means.

    ALA is very different than BEA. To attend BEA as a non-professional it's upwards of $300. It's tailored to keep a selective audience. If ALA didn't want non-professoinals/bloggers to walk the floor they would've done the same.

  51. says

    If I were running the show, I'd probably give attendants a punch-card or something, good for 6 books (or whatever number seems fair, given the supply). They could still get more books, probably, by talking to the conventionees. I don't think you can offer something as exciting as free books and expect every person to moderate themselves.

    From a marketing standpoint, for a publisher or author to have a book squealed about on a blog with good traffic is a good thing.

    • Anonymous says

      That's a cool idea, to use a punch card. Even though there would likely be some abuse of it, it would cause people to be more selective about what they choose to put in their bags. I wonder if it would make it harder for debut authors to get distributed, though?

  52. Anonymous says

    1) what those girls did completely sucks, no doubt. It was selfish as hell.

    2) I think the professionals going to the conference SHOULD get first crack. Completely reasonable.

    Here's the thing: obviously, the ALA & publishers don't really care. This system was setup to reward those two opportunistic girls. If it was mostly for librarians, they wouldn't have done tho open access thing. If you can get it changed, awesome. But if you can't, time to put your big girl panties on and deal with it.

    Frankly, Kelly, this post pisses me off. Because your sense of entitlement really boils my blood. These aren't your books; they're the publishers'. Like it or not, you don't get to lay claim to anything that isn't yours. Period. I work for a nonprofit. I make peanuts. It's a choice and I don't complain about. But just because I work in a 'serving' profession doesn't mean I think I should get first dibs on anything.

    And what really angers me is that you have the nerve to take what is essentially sour grapes and try to justify it by sanctifying your profession.

    I'm pretty damn sure the ALA main goals could be met without the addition of free books. Cut the bullshit, Kelly. This is completely about not getting enough sprinkles on your cupcake. Do I think those ARCs would be of more value in your hands? Of course. Were this girls ridiculous and selfish? Of course.

    But that's life. You didn't have to write a hissy fit of a blog post about your self-righteous indignation over it. I'm embarrassed for you.

    Furthermore, your "if you aren't with me, you're against me/you're part of the problem" attitude is deplorable and manipulative. Your arrogance shines.

    And I am writing this anonymously because anytime there's a dissenting opinion among YA bloggers, a witch hunt ensues.

    Shame on you, Kelly. You've overstepped your bounds on this one. It would serve everyone, both bloggers and librarians, right if ARCs were revoked. I think everyone's ego could use a reality check.

  53. says

    I would just like to add two points to this discussion. As a school librarian, I am obligated to comply with the collection development policy of my district which requires either professional review sources (SLJ, Kirkus, etc.) or review by a professional librarian to select a book. While I enjoy reading book blogs and sometimes find valuable suggestions for books to review on blogs, they are not my go-to source of reviews because I cannot use them to defend my selections.

    While library budgets have been diminished in the past few years, libraries are still big spenders on books. This leads to my second point: I spend A LOT of money on books every year. If an ARC reaches my hands and I love it, I will climb mountains to purchase it for my collection. The key word is PURCHASE. Money will be returned on the investment a publisher made by getting the ARC into my hands. And once I'm done with ARCs, I don't add them to my bookshelf, because, as a professional whose conference attendance has been paid by my employer, I don't view them as mine. I pass them on to another librarian, an english teacher, or a student assistant in the hope of spreading the word.

    I'm sure that publishers are happy to get their ARCs into the hands of book bloggers who are professional about their blogging, but the ALA conference should remain focused on the needs of members and should not be overrun by freebie hunters.

  54. Susan says

    As an ALSC/ALA member, I attended the conference and noticed a number of rolling bags on the exhibit floor, even though registration information expressly noted that they were prohibited. Not enforcing this rule contributes to the problem.

  55. Anonymous says

    Great article. When I go to conferences I take only what I need or the library needs. I am often asked, "Is that all you got?" Yep. It's not a contest and i dont end up with "stuff" I'll never use.

  56. Allison says

    I've had family members and friends visit me for the conference, and they go to the exhibits for me when I don't have time. I've also presented a program at ALA with a non-librarian, who then went to the exhibit halls and took some ARCs home. Would you say she didn't deserve to be there, even though she'd co-presented at ALA, just because she works in a related field instead of library science? I think limiting non-librarian entrance to the exhibit halls to the end of the conference is a bad idea. Candidly, the comments about how only the right people (librarians and well-known bloggers) should get the books just makes me cringe.

  57. Anonymous says

    I was there at the conference, expo only. I am not a librarian OR a blogger. I'm just a voracious reader whose spouse and children are also voracious readers. We attended this conference as our family vacation and to celebrate my son's seventh birthday. He preferred this to a party with his friends.

    We got some ARCs, yes. We intend to read them and then donate them to the public or school library, depending on what type of book they are. Each day when we got back from the expo, the four of us flopped down at the hotel and began reading, which we did until bedtime. We finished several books while we were still there, in fact. The kids had a wonderful time, and were so excited to meet the authors and illustrators who created their favorite books.

    I'm dismayed to read that people might think what we did was selfish or wrong. If this conference was restricted to librarians only, that'd be fine with me. If the general public was restricted to the last day or had to pay more, that'd be fine. If they gave librarians a badge in a different color so that only they received free books, that'd be fine too.

    But those things were not the case. We were given the opportunity to register even if we weren't librarians, so that's what we did. When a publisher put a book in my hand and said, "here, take this, it's free" I did not refuse (though I did refrain from entering the raffle on the last day, because I felt a librarian should win the prize(s) and not me).

    I think if someone got up in arms with changing the rules, you might have an argument that they were being greedy in some way. But I wasn't grabbing books out of the hands of more-deserving librarians, I was passing them to our librarians by way of the next generation of readers — my kids and my family. I hope that's not in poor form, and if it is, please, by all means, change the rules and we'll go away. But I didn't feel the least bit unwelcome there… until now.

  58. Anonymous says

    I've been in your shoes as a committee member who didn't get much time on the floor. It is frustrating, but I knew when I agreed to the job that my time would be spent in book discussion meetings. I've also seen librarians "behaving badly" on the exhibit floor, taking more than one copy of materials. It's not just the non-librarians. As for the exhibits only badge, our family makes ALA it's vacation each summer, so my husband and children get those. They are not interested in attending programs or meetings, but they enjoy walking the floor, meeting authors, and seeing what's available. Over the years, my kids have become very professional in selecting only the books that interest them. They have learned to say no when someone offers something they don't want/need/like. I would have a problem if they could only attend on Monday since they enjoy meeting authors and getting signed books as much as their librarian mother. And, for the record, I pay for my own registration, hotel, food, and transportation at every conference because my school does not provide me with funds.

  59. Anonymous says

    So you complain about bloggers taking ARCS, but correct me if I'm wrong, but you weren't working at the time of ALA based on your blog

    You weren't a librarian at the time or in that role, so how do you explain yourself? How many ARCS did you take from those working that should have had them over you?

  60. says

    I was just doing a google search about something concerning ALA and ran across this post. I'm a blogger going to ALA Seattle in January and while I'm super excited since it's my first time going to anything like this, I've been super conscious about my behavior and that I don't get greedy. Honestly, I don't need a bunch of books, but I really want to meet with publicists I've chatted with and worked with for a long time. I want to be with other bookish people and to learn about what books are coming out next year. But I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I'm a blogger. I don't even want to tell people just because so many bloggers DO demonstrate bad behavior. I stopped doing In My Mailbox over a year ago and I while I would like to show the world the books I get each week just cause it's fun, I started to feel like people might interpret it as bragging. And I'm not one who gets a ton of books for review. I borrow a lot from others and sometimes I get requests from publisher, but I don't request many books at all, so any 'book hauls' I had were rarely very large or were mostly books I bought or borrowed. Anyway, I think this is important to remember, to not be greedy and remember that it's for the librarians, not for us. I think we deserve to go, I work hard spending hours a day promoting books and not being paid, but I don't think it's right for us to grab every book possible. I will be happy with the few I do get and I'm certainly not going to be pushing ahead to try to get books I want more badly than others might.
    I also donate my books to the local JDC (via the library) and to a reservation that doesn't have a library at all. I do keep some, but I pass on far more to others to read and appreciate. I know not everyone does this, but they should try to a bit more often.

    • says

      I stopped doing IMMs (or whatever you want to call them) a while ago for the simple fact that /I/ feel jealous when I see other people's and I don't want others to feel the same. I skip right over all of those posts in my reader.
      I don't want to feel that way because while it feels special to get ARCs I actually GREATLY prefer finished copies. I like to make sure I'm getting the final product and what the other and publishers intended.
      (I realize this is rather off topic, but I don't like to say anything when it comes to controversial topics on the internet.)

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