Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Hangin' with Al...Reflecting on Fairest : EPHEMERA
I've always envied those lucky enough to attend conventions held by the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association -- especially when they return home carrying free galleys of upcoming books, promotional giveaways (a box of candy handed out to promote a book with the word "chocolate" in its title; a stuffed animal publicizing a new children's book character), not to mention all the lapel pins and ink pens and postcards and notecards stuffed inside those fabric bags emblazoned with publisher logos which are standard-issue freebies at these conventions.
I'm too far out of the loop to have access to most of these goodies. The few pieces of children's book ephemera I own have either been gifts from friends who DID attend conventions, or things I've purchased off eBay. Two of my eBay wins are pictured above: a coat-hanger promoting Gennifer Choldenko's Newbery Honor Book AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS and a sturdy cardboard box containing a little mirror and an advance reading copy of Gail Carson Levine's FAIREST (her best book since ELLA ENCHANTED.)
I often wonder if anyone is making a concerted effort to save all these promotional materials. After all, the lifespan of ephemera is pretty short. It gets sent to bookstores, where it goes on display (or sits in the backroom) until the next publishing season rolls around and all the old material gets tossed. Or it's given to librarians, who pass out the assorted pens and stickers and bookmarks to their young patrons. Consequently, a piece of ephemera promoting a novel is likely more rare than a first edition copy of the novel itself. So I hope there are at least a f few collectors out there socking this stuff away. It's not only appealing to look at, but it also documents how (and how much) various children's books were promoted and publicized through the years. It's part of the history of children's publishing and well worth preserving.