This is a round-up of ARRC09 and is not in chronological order. If you want to read more anecdotes, check out the liveblog. Click here for a list of ARRC09 posts and liveblogs .
I was late to the Welcome Reception and was a bit scared I’d have to stand around on my own, tweeting furtively on my mobile, but there were so many other people either on their own or with only one other friend, that it didn’t seem to matter. Registration took no time at all, and I was given a bag with free books in it. That immediately put me into a good mood!
I didn’t find my friends until the end of the reception, but I did meet a couple of new people. I met a closet romance reader, who said she would be looked down upon if she ever told her colleagues she read romances. That made me sad! I can only hope the weekend was a great outlet for her. The other person I had a long chat with was an artist from WA. She was lovely and I think she was wonderfully surprised at the level of nerdiness enthusiasm on display.
On the whole, the event seemed to go very well. There was a lot of conversation, and I never anyone on their own for very long. I think we lucked out in having a good proportion of extroverted readers who were willing to talk to pretty much anyone.
There were trade displays around the room, but not as many as I had expected. I thought maybe there would be more the next day, but that was actually it. I had a chat with the ladies manning the Harlequin Mills & Boon stall, and grilled them about not knowing when US titles would be released in Australia (if at all). I can’t remember the full explanation, but I think it boiled down to what the Harlequin Australia thought would sell in their market. I mentioned that I prefer to buy the Aussie version, and it’s frustrating not to know if a US title would be available or not because then I could figure out if I should buy it online from an overseas bookseller.
I asked specifically about Courting Disaster by Kathleen O’Reilly, which came out last year, and I was told that it’s coming out later this year but that they have renamed the title of the book series. Woohoo!
HQN had lots of books on display, including from their Spice line and other imprints, but they were for display only. Bummer that. I forgot to ask if Harlequin Australia will be releasing the Spice line.
Next to the HQN stall was Simon & Schuster. They practically shoved free books at me–how good was that? I scored a free Liz Carlyle, Eloisa James, and the romantic suspense collaboration between Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love. Later, someone said that they were just looking at the latest Alexis Morgan (not yet available) and was shocked when the rep told her she could have it. And at the end of the convention, the S&S stall had a box full of Liz Carlyles that people could just take. I have much love for Simon & Schuster. Love. Much.
I asked their rep about parallel importation. (I did this a few times to different people, but then I got a complex about whether or not it was an obnoxious thing to ask, so I stopped.) The rep was on top of it and told me that S&S’s position is that they support territorial copyright and that they want to be able to support local authors. She said S&S submitted a position paper to the productivity commission, and I don’t know why I didn’t read that but I will now. She also mentioned an author who she said wrote a very good position paper. Can’t remember the author’s name but I’ll go through the list to see if any of them jog my memory.
Rendezvous had a stall, but there really weren’t any books. That surprised me as I expected them to have a huge presence in the convention considering their shop was 3 blocks away. Sadly, their stall was almost always unmanned when I walked past. They had a sign saying where the shop was, but I thought they could have made more of an effort. For example, by printing out maps that people could use, or offering discount vouchers.
Lucy from Ever After did a roaring trade. There were always people browsing books at her stall throughout the weekend. Even though she was only allowed to sell books not on the official bookseller’s catalogue, she had a large variety of titles available, including print copies of epublished books. I need to visit her shop one day.
I spoke briefly with Margaret from Intrigue, as I plan to stop by when we’re in Canberra on the way back to Sydney. I can’t remember if she was selling books, but I think she had some fabric book covers on display.
Booktopia had a stall, but I didn’t get a chance to stop by. I think they were offering discounts to ARRC participants. The owner was very visible throughout the convention, and not just because he was one of a handful of blokes in the conference. I had a long chat with him on Saturday, and we talked about parallel importation, ebooks and bookselling. He said he could probably give away ebook readers on a contract/subscription plan–like a cross between mobile phone plans and those book clubs where you commit to buying a certain number of titles each month. I think this is something he’s seriously considering because on Sunday, a panelist mentioned that Booktopia wanted to give everyone an ebook reader (obviously, not for free).
Borders, the official bookseller, had a shop set up on the first floor, away from the trade displays. I ended up having to buy from them due to a book signing mix-up which ended up with me just having to buy Tempt the Devil in trade paperback (as opposed to keeping the mass market version I bought the day before–watch this space for freebies). I have to say, the staff were very friendly (although again, the manager was a guy). They even searched for an uncreased copy for me as some of the books had been handled a bit.
We had an unofficial after party when the reception finished, and lots of people turned up in their jammies. There was a particularly colourful pair of pyjama pants that I loved. Everyone had a turn at talking about their favourite books or authors. Since most of mine had been mentioned, I decided to pimp out some not-so-well-known authors instead: Patricia McKillip, Kathleen O’Reilly, and Bettie Sharpe. I couldn’t stay long, and people were still arriving as I left.