The mistake I made was to forget about the galleys. I became so wrapped up in talking with many people that I had forgotten the “book” in Book Expo America. While I had a flight to catch in mere hours (I’m at JFK now), there was clearly no other option. Fill as many bags as I could, FedEx them back home, and get the hell out.
The funny thing about this is that if the books had been replaced with, say, a bank vault, this would have the element of despicable crime written all over it. But at BEA, it seems, this behavior is sanctioned, if not outright encouraged. One publicist who had “a big stack of galleys” waiting for me had the sense of humor to unload a colossal 1,400 page book (which I’ll end up reading of course, now that I can’t say no to a longass book).
This probably wouldn’t have happened had Sarah Weinman not been there. Sarah, besides maintaining a great blog, being a supernice person and being wise beyond her years, accompanied me as I talked with many more publicists and was good enough to put up with my fey enthusiasm and brio, which so overwhelmed me that, during some points, it took me more than a minute to introduce the publicist to Sarah (a sin for which I am now stewing in my own personal guilt).
It was Sarah who coined the term “drive-by galleying.” But it was also an effort to meet some of the remaining folks on the floor and get the lowdown on the titles. Curiously, some of them were hesitant about the audio thing. Which begs the question: why be a publicist if you’re afraid of a microphone that’s placed deliberately outside of eye contact so as to not frighten people off?
On Sunday, the floors were gradually dwindling. But people still milled about. There were last minute deals and, at the Farrar Strauss & Giroux table, all the marketing people were huddled around a table eating a bag of Doritos.
But Sarah went above and beyond the call of duty. She offered to FedEx the bags of books back to me. It was Sarah who reminded me that I had a plane to catch. It was Sarah who whittled the bibliophile in me down to brute pragmatism. And for this I remain not only grateful, but indebted. Rest assured the gesture shall be paid in kind. That’s the kind of person she is, and if you haven’t read her blog or met her in person, you’re missing out.