Grace Lin (second from l.) shows off her newly-stickered Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, with (l. to r.) Little, Brown's Alvina Ling, Jennifer Hunt, and Zoe Luderitz.

Although attendance was up at this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting, held during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, over last year’s meeting in Denver—11,095 compared to 10,220 in 2009—it was still down compared with the last time it was on the East Coast. The 2008 show in Philadelphia drew 13,601 people.

Some attributed the fact that attendance wasn’t stronger this year to economics, including cuts in libraries’ travel budgets, which would not allow them to attend both Midwinter and the Public Library Association meeting in Portland, Ore., in March. “It’s a little bit slower than what we expected,” says Lisa Prodywus, who heads marketing for TLC Software. “We have three shows this year. What we’re hearing a lot is ‘We’re waiting for the March show.’ ”

Scholastic's John Mason (r.) played Johnny Carson, interviewing Philip Reeve
and other authors at the house's
timely "Tonight Show" event.

Much of the action at Midwinter typically occurs behind-the scene in meetings, on a variety of topics, such as tech trends, especially patrons’ expectations regarding the use of mobile devices, and fundraising without losing 501(3)c status, and closed-door meetings like the ones leading up to the announcement of the major children's and teen book awards. Still, 2,000 librarians and teachers emerged to fill a ballroom for Al Gore’s talk on his new book on the climate crisis, Our Choice, published last November in a young readers’ edition by Viking. There was a large turnout for a conversation at the Junior Literary Guild booth between Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of Horn Book, and writer M.T. Anderson, and publishers scheduled book signings at their booths throughout the weekend.

Author Art Corriveau (How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Got a Life [and a Dog]), flanked by Abrams' Laura Mihalick and Howard Reeves.

While some houses like Chronicle Books continued to sell on the show floor, albeit at 50% discount, many publishers offered free ARCs, jacketed f&g’s, and even some finished books. Dan Reynolds, COO at Storey Publishing, said that he saw more galleys than at BEA.

Certainly the give-it-away-to-get-it-back principle was at work at the HarperCollins booth, which kept several pallets in storage to ensure plenty of books throughout the show. Harper even rushed boxes of finished books from the bindery of a collection of essays featuring a cover with a librarian in a skirt and Superman shirt, This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All. “I don’t want to stand here. I want to get these galleys into the hands of librarians. That’s why we’re here,” said Virginia Stanley, director of library marketing. “It’s like throwing a rock in a lake and watching the ripple effects.”

Author Melissa Stewart
at the Peachtree booth.

Among the most popular galleys for kids at the Penguin booth were John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Dutton, Apr.) and Incarceron (Dial, Feb.) by Catherine Fisher. Scottie Bowditch, director of school and library marketing, said that they gave out 500 of the Green and Levithan galleys by request only. Scholastic district sales manager Nikki Mutch named Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger (July), the sequel to Shiver, her hottest galley, followed closely by Francisco X. Stork’s The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (Mar.). “This is one of my favorites,” said Mutch, who dubbed Stork “a book god.”

Back in New York, Random House
celebrated nabbing two of the top
awards: Libba Bray's (l.) Printz-winning
Going Bovine and Rebecca Stead's
Newbery winner,
When You Reach Me.

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books, a number of galleys were frequently requested, according to v-p of marketing Linda Magram, including Lois Lowry’s The Birthday Ball (Apr.), illustrated by Jules Feiffer; and Daniel Pinkwater’s Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl (June), Beth Fantaskey’s Jekel Loves Hyde (May), and Karen Cushman’s Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Apr.).

However, the unfolding tragedy in Haiti was on everyone’s mind throughout the show. In his talk, Gore said, “I want to acknowledge that and urge all of you to help in every way possible.” Attendees heeded his call and ALA’s request as well as that of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to donate. On Monday, ALA and MCCA announced a joint donation of $27,084.50 to support relief efforts in Haiti.