Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I came home from dinner smelling like an elephant

Brando is sensitive to these things. And had to investigate.

Last night I was at a party at the Audubon Zoo for the winners of the ASPCA's annual awards for childrens books. The ALA (American Library Association) is having their annual convention here. So everyone gathered at the Zoo's Tea Room, where, in the courtyard, we got to mingle with an elephant, face to face. I've never been that close to one before, and it was pretty amazing, particularly when the elephant's eye stared into mine. When an elephant stares at you, do you stare back?

Earlier in the weekend, I did a signing on the Exhibit Hall floor at the Convention Center. Ingram was nice enough to invite me to do this. The copies were donated by my publisher. I didn't count, but there were supposed to be 75 copies; they were gone in thirty minutes.

What's most interesting is how different the various publishers are when you approach them. The idea is that the publishers set up these huge booths with lots of copies of their books to give away, which will generate more sales, reviews, etc. So it was surprising how many booths were manned by people who did everything in their power to avoid any eye contact. Warner, which was recently renamed Hachette, had perhaps the rudest reps. Algonquin and Workman, the nicest. And Penguin/Putnam too!

At one point, as I looked through the offerings of another publisher (who I like enough not to name), I had to overhear the rep complaining endlessly about New Orleans. "We did the right thing, I guess," she said to a friend. What she meant was that she and everyone else were very good people because they hadn't cancelled. "I just keep telling myself: At least I get to go home."


Sara said...

Ken, wasn't there also a Certain Other Publisher who publishes a Certain Friend of Yours who was also very nice and welcoming and generous with the books? Perhaps a publisher named after a friendly, loveable little critter, always so well-dressed and spiffy in his little tuxedo, who lives in the arctic and likes fish? A little guy who might just stick a whole fish in his mouth and remove just the bones--ha!--if he were to be in a cartoon?

And incidentally, I thought Harper's operation was pretty good too. I thought those were the two standouts.

kfoz said...

Yes, the Penguins were very friendly. I'll have to ammend my post!

Sara said...

Oh, you're the sweetest! The penguins of the world appreciate you.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you had a name tag on that said "librarian" the vendors were all very friendly and generous.

kfoz said...

Hmm...I guess my mistake was accepting an invitation to be a guest at the conference then? Or was it that I was from New Orleans?

Actually my guess is that while most of the people were--as I said--very nice, there were a number of them that really didn't want to be there.