Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,

Really off my game at today's conference

So as predicted yesterday, it was waaay past midnight by the time we de-planed and made it to Casa de Santos, our home away from home in Florida. Papa Santos is a social man, and despite the late hour he wanted to stay up and chat and get caught up. Oh, and feed us. Every few minutes he'd ask if we were hungry and wanted something to eat or drink. Seanie chased me off to bed when the clock struck one, but even after I'd brushed my teeth and settled in for the night I could hear the sound of voices downstairs. It must have been nearly three by the time I drifted off...

...which wasn't nearly enough sleep for a conference like Children's Institute. I couldn't get myself up in time for the keynote speaker (thus missing a chance to see Kate DiCamillo! The heartbreak!) but Alexis dropped me off at the conference hotel just in time for the first session. It was a pretty good one called “Stemming the Summer Slide With Summer Reading and Book Camps”; back home in San Jose HB's was kicking off our own summer program so I was really curious to hear what other stores were doing.

They're doing a lot of cool stuff is what they're doing. One store talked about their summer camps, where they watch kids every day from 9-5 with different literary-themed activities. So one week they might do a Camp Half-Blood while another week is Harry Potter-themed. These were stores with whole rooms set aside for community events, and I got the sense that when it came to entertainment in town, other options for parents were fairly limited. It sounded neat, but it also seemed like an incredible amount of work. I couldn't imagine trying to pull something like that together at HB's, even if we had the space (which we don't). Another store talked about summer book clubs that they do with teens, and that made me feel a little puffed with pride because I thought HB's TAB program was much better than what they described.

The next talk was about the children's book market. Kristen McLean went over numbers gleaned from book sales and highlighted what the hot sellers have been (non-fiction and graphic novels) and what categories have slowed down (non-fiction that ties into Common Core curriculum, which I thought was really interesting). It was very similar to a talk she gave at Winter Institute, but this was purely kid-book focused, while Winter Institute's talk included adult books.

I was exhausted and nearly nodding off, even though the talk was really interesting. The lack of sleep was really catching up with me. As we headed into lunch, I also started feel nauseous. I thought maybe eating would help, but every time I looked at food my stomach started to churn. I hoped caffeine would help.

Lunch at a bookseller's conference is still working time. At this particular lunch, reps from the different publishing houses were “speed dating” their way around the room – they'd stop at a lunch table, talk for a few minutes about upcoming titles, and then move on to the next group. I could not focus, not even when forcing myself to take notes. When the next break came, I went to the hotel lobby and called Papa Santos to ask him to pick me up and take me home.

Conference: DEFEATED.

It can't be helped. Some people are strong enough to get by on a couple of hours of sleep, but I'm not one of them. I slept the entire afternoon away, missing a talk by Dana Suskind about developing children's brains and another talk about Disney's approach to business excellence by Jeff James. An even bigger disappointment to me was that I missed the Author Reception. It's such a great opportunity – I think there were fifty authors in the room and the reception is the best time to make an impression and hopefully get them to come to the store. (You also score the best books at the reception.)

But even after I woke up, I figured it was best to stay home and rest so that I'd have the energy for the second day of Children's Institute. So I had chicken soup with Papa and Mama Santos while Seanie and Alexis were off having their own adventures fishing on the Florida coast. Papa Santos told stories about his early days working at Disney World and the challenges he and his family faced when they first moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. It was a lot of fun, although I felt a little guilty about missing all the work stuff earlier.

Better luck tomorrow!
Tags: aba, books, children's authors, children's institute, orlando, sick, travel

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