Last weekend, two of the largest academic conferences of the year took place: the annual meetings of the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA). A good portion of the ProfHacker team was at one of these two gatherings, giving presentations, listening to talks, and tweeting up a storm.
One of the staples of these two conventions (as well as any other that I have ever attended) is the book exhibit. Academic publishers bring their most recent titles to show off, hoping to sell a few copies that might turn into larger course adoptions. The sales are often made more attractive by the inclusion of a discount of 15%, 20%, or even 30% off list price. As Jason and I wandered around the MLA’s book exhibit on Saturday, we not only took in the amazing demonstration of the ChronoZoom beta by Microsoft Research but also shared something like the following conversation. (Names have been altered for anonymity’s sake.)
Brendan: Do you ever buy book at conventions?
Jared: Yeah, sometimes.
Brendan: I’m always torn. There are so many that look interesting. But I can get almost all of them cheaper on Amazon.
Jared: Yeah. But you’re directly supporting the publisher in this way.
Brendan: I know. But I’m poor.
Jared: So are your friends who wrote them. It’s important to support our colleagues, as well as presses who publish interesting academic work.
Brendan: Okay. But, I work in a library, so I can the librarians buy any—or all—of these books. So I can have what I want for free and for as long as I want, most of the time.
Jared: Good point. But you can’t write in them.
Brendan: Sometimes I do anyway.
Jared: <slaps Brendan>
As our conversation revealed, there are just as many reasons to buy books as there are reasons not to buy them. So we want to turn to you, our ProfHacker readers, today and ask: do you buy books at conventions? Do you have any rules for governing your purchases? What types of books do you tend to buy? Let us know in the comments!