A Perfect Day for Books: ALA Midwinter

Posted January 12, 2016 by Lory in events / 18 Comments

Last weekend, on a foggy, rainy Sunday morning, I took the two-hour trek to Boston for the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. Not being a librarian myself, I just wanted to visit the exhibit hall and meet a couple of other attendees, notably librarian/blogger Katie from Bookish Illuminations (who was the one who alerted me to this event) and my brother, who is also a bona fide librarian, although one of the digital variety — he does things with computers that I don’t really understand, but I’m sure we should all be grateful for.

It was a perfect day to be indoors looking at books, and I enjoyed doing just that for a couple of hours. The number of exhibitors was very manageable for me, and I picked up just enough review copies to fill the small bag I’d brought along, resisting the offer of additional bags from some of the booths.

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I was happy to connect with a couple of publishers that I’d like to feature as part of Reading New England. The impressive display above is from Boston-based Candlewick, which published two of my favorite new releases last year, The Hired Girl and Symphony for the City of the Dead. I picked up an advance copy of Golden Boys, the latest novel from the ever-interesting Sonya Hartnett, and I’m really looking forward to that one.

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I also chatted with the publisher from Tilbury House, which is located in Maine. I’m always impressed by the spirit and dedication of independent, regional publishers, and I’d love to know what inspires them and keep them going. Watch for an interview to come in March!

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My favorite display, though, was this booth-in-a-bus from Quarto Book Group. I hadn’t heard of them before, and their various imprints are producing some really striking and beautiful books. Inside the bus were some gorgeous editions of classics with quirky and inventive illustrations. They also had many stunning children’s books, and fascinating art, craft, and cooking titles.

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One of the latter was Ferment Your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer. At the What’s Cooking stage I attended a demonstration by Amanda in which she explained the basics of lactic-acid fermentation and showed how to make a radish, turnip and onion pickle. Afterwards she signed complimentary copies of the book, but they ran out long before all the attendees got one. I just missed getting the last one, drat. But the book looks so great that I think I will buy it anyway. I did get to sample some of Amanda’s spicy cabbage, which was delicious.


And I did come away with some wonderful books, some even signed by the authors, and best of all I got to see some of my favorite bookish people. It was a perfect day!

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18 responses to “A Perfect Day for Books: ALA Midwinter

  1. Sandy L

    Thanks for taking us to ALA midwinter with you. looks like so much FUN! I wasn’t aware that non-librarians were welcome! a good thing to know πŸ™‚

    • If you’re a member of the association you get a discount, but as far as I can tell anyone can attend who pays the entrance fee. I hope it comes to our region again!

  2. Shannon

    Loved reading this post! I’m looking forward to reading the two books Kirk brought home. πŸ™‚

  3. This sounds like a wonderful event! I wish I could have gone. It’s nice too that you got to meet up with another blogger! It seems pretty relaxed too for a convention – I mean, is it very crowded? I want to go to BEA one day, but I’m intimidated by how many people will be there! πŸ™‚

    • I didn’t find it terribly crowded — there were plenty of people walking around, but it wasn’t crazy. BEA is amazing (based on the one time I was there), but it is about 10 times bigger and more exhausting! This was just right for my energy level.

  4. I’m jealous you got to talk to the Candlewick folks! I love what they’re doing in publishing, and their imprint on the back of a book is often enough by itself to make me give that book a try.

    • It wasn’t a long conversation, but I’m looking forward to connecting again and learning more. I agree, they have some really exciting things going on.

  5. It sounds like you had such a nice time! That bus booth looks really interesting! I went to midwinter last year when it was located closer to me. It was fun to get to talk to a lot of different people in the publishing business and meet some blogger friend. The free books didn’t hurt either. πŸ˜‰

    • I was so glad it was located near enough for me to go. New York is a bit difficult (not to mention Chicago).

  6. Sounds like you had a great time, too! Too bad about the cookbook! I attended one What’s Cooking session, but they didn’t give away any books, just soup samples, but I picked up two full bags of review copies (one bag more than I had planned to!).

  7. It was pretty generous of the publisher to give away so many finished copies. I’m glad some other lucky attendees got to have them anyway.

  8. I’m so glad you went for the day and it was so wonderful to meet you! I look forward to more meetups in the future! ALA Midwinter was so amazing–and it’s just my style so I don’t know if I will ever get to BEA. It sounds a bit intense. It was so inspiring to be at the convention this year–I’m looking forward to future ALA’s. I love your pictures, and am working on my own ALA recap post. πŸ™‚

    • Here’s to more bookish events in Boston! I’ll look forward to seeing your post, and hope we can meet up for a cinnamon roll before too long.