Archive for May, 2010

The Book Exhibit: The Business Behind the Scenes, Pt. the First

May 20, 2010

     “I just spent waaayyyy too much money” is probably the most often heard phrase outside the book stalls. This is usually closely follwed by “I have no idea how I am going to get all of these home.” This is not surprising given the proximity of a large (3000+) population of academics, all specializing in a variety of medieval disciplines and all starved for instant access to the latest that their fields have to offer. After all, it is not like we can just mosey into our local Barnes and Noble to pick up the latest Ashgate book. For four days each year, we have the opportunity to browse, pick, and purchase from a person, not a computer or catalog. Further, unless the publisher only brought display copies with which to take orders, we get to take it right there and then…and, in this era of instant gratification, begin reading immediately. Every year, I am invariably jostled by someone walking down a hall, nose buried in a book, just purchased. To be honest, I guess I’ve done my fair share of jostling as well.

     The lure of the stalls is social as well as intellectual. For grad students like myself, the exhibit gives us a chance, second only to the wine hour, to screw our courage to the sticking place and actually approach some of our academic idols. Indeed, the stalls often seem like a sort of walking bibliography. “Hey, there goes fn 7 from chapter 3!” Lunches are arranged, plans made, and many people, who only see each other once a year, spend quality time together searching the stacks and catching up on the previous year. How easy it is to lose oneself at, say, Boydell and Brewer or Cambridge Uni. Press, chatting away, coffee in hand, reveling in the company of like minded folk, gossiping, arguing, and shopping. Mostly shopping…

    Next time: The Book Exhibit: The Business Behind the Scenes, Pt. the Second- The Art of the Book Deal!

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Books and Blogging Royalty…A Peasant’s Adventure in Michigan.

May 17, 2010

    Recovering from a ten-hour drive through four states and two time zones is probably not the best time to start reflecting on this year’s International Medieval Congress, but I had such an exciting time that I’ll give it a go. I know I promised you a “book report,” and you shall have one…later…after I find my notes and put them in a semblance of order.

    Now for the blogging royalty part of the show. I finally got to meet some of (you, hopefully) the bloggers who continue to inspire, challenge, and entertain me. Let me tell you, they are a great group of people! Jonathan Jarrett, of Tenth-century Europe fame, made a rare appearance across the pond and delivered a great paper on charters (surprise!), Visigothic law and its influence on Carolingian rule. Did I mention that he is also an incredibly nice person? His kind words of encouragement are very much appreciated!

   I also got to meet the mysterious ADM, from whose blog I have learned much about the inner workings of academia. As reticent as I was at the blog meet, ADM made me feel welcome and a part of the community. A class act all the way around. I spent time with Dr. Nokes, he of the Wordhoard, a man who knows how to have fun ( and pull a good practical joke, eh Herr Doctor Allan?). Dr. Larry Swain also deserves my gratitude. I have had several email communications with him already, but it was a joy to meet him in person. I highly recommend that you read at least one of his several blogs! Truly a kind person. I would be remiss if I did not give a special shout out to Vaulting and Vellum! Now, you guys, get to work on a new post!!

    So, on to other matters that are “bound” to get your attention, books. I’m only going to offer a couple of comments here. The longer post is, as I said, forthcoming.

    I alluded in a previous post to the staggering array of books and sundries available at the zoo. This is still accurate, but the exhibit did seem smaller this year. I know that a couple of traditional exhibitors were forced to withdraw because of the volcano in Iceland. Dr. Catherine Cubitt was similarly delayed, and her thought-provoking paper was delivered by a pinch hitter. Powell’s books and OUP each had less stock than usual, and many people commented on the absence of the gentleman (I forget his name) who makes and sells the wax seal replicas. One hopes that both the volcano and the economy return to stability and all of these vendors can return.

    Next time, “The Book Exhibit: Business Behind the Scenes!” Please stay tuned!

Kalamazoo 2010

May 8, 2010

    I know, I know, it has been a couple of months. I hope the two of you left out there can forgive me. This time of year, however, is very exciting to those of us who study the middle ages. It’s Kalamazoo time!! For those of you who don’t know, every May, over three thousand rabid medievalists get together in SE Michigan to network, present papers, drink, dance, renew old historical arguments, and generally soak up the vibes of being amongst a group of like minded friends. We also buy book. Lots of books. As in, many, many books. Those who don’t buy books, wish they could buy books.

    Some of my web friends will be blogging reports on their favorite sessions, covering the proceedings almost in real time. I will be doing some of that, but mainly, I want to blog on the book exhibit. Apart from an overview of the stalls, each day I will concentrate on a particular publisher or dealer, reporting on some of the newest publications. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced the glory that is the book exhibit, this will be an opportunity to see what you have been missing. For those of you who have, but for some reason haven’t made it to the ‘zoo this year, this will be a reminder of why you need to come back next year. In addition to “book reports” (Yes, terrible pun), I hope to have an interview or two with at least one of the leading bloggers in our field. Several will be there, it just depends on which one will agree to appear on a little seen, rural, no-frills blog. Anyway, the fun starts on Thursday, May 13! Stay tuned!

p.s. I will try to have pictures. As I am computer illiterate, it might be a feat.