Tuesday, July 14, 2009

When Things Don't Go Your Way, Go Theirs

ALA 2008. What an exhibit booth might look like.

In the publishing game there are these things called 'exhibits.' These are places that a fraction of the publishing company's staff go to in order to display the company's books and discuss services, exchange ideas, share knowledge, and learn from the folks on the frontline who are putting said books into the hands of little children who will then read them. Exhibits are good. They are fun and, on the surface, easy.

But we all know that something nefarious lurks beneath the surface. Something there is that does not like order and organization. Chaos, I guess. A quieter sort of chaos, however. One more like a sunburn than a fever. Makes it hard to sleep, but a little aloe vera and you will soon find comfort enough. Maybe an aspirin.

This year is Charlesbridge's 20th anniversary. So, we created a banner of such beauty and whimsy (Possible? Yes.) to hang in our booths at exhibits such as IRA, BEA, and ALA. It's easy:

Step 1: Create a banner. (Enter chaos at a slow burn . . . "Here is what I've created for your exhibits." "Change it." "Oy, can it be less expensive. It is a recession, you know." "How about this?" "Uh . . . getting there." "Now?" "Ah, it's whimsy is a thing of beauty.")

Step 2: Ship it. (Time to apply a liiiiittle sunscreen. Theoretically, you fill out the shipping papers, box up your stuff, and give it to someone who puts boxes on a truck, takes them to where you've told them to take them, removes the boxes at the final destination, and goes away. Voila! Shipping defined. However . . .)

Step 3: Hang your banner! (And here is where your skin starts to really blister. Hang 'em if you got 'em, sucka!)

Step 3 is where we got hung up (or not, as the case may be) this year at ALA. We had a slight snag with Step 2 after BEA when our shipment came home sans banner. It did show up some time later, and just in time to make it into the ALA shipment with hours to spare. Ah, the hectic fast paced, but certainly glamorous (no one's complaining), life of the exhibit planner.

All's well? You wish. I do, anyway. How could it go wrong, I pondered. Banner with shipment on skid encased in shrinkwrap. All those boxes are now as one. Nothing nor nobody can tear them asunder.

You naive, simple-minded, oh-too-trusting exhibit planner. Ha, ha, ha. That banner is not going to ALA. You'll never know where it went. Did it even make it to Chicago? God in His Heaven only knows.

BUT! Here is where the aloe vera comes in. No banner? Not the end of the world (but all you ALA attendees were deprived of the sweetest booth banner this side of the Pecos). No banner, but you gotta do something. So, lovely, talented Meg Bencivenni--School and Library Marketing at Charlesbridge--fashioned the loveliest and most talented booth banner in the WHOLE WORLD! One co-worker dubbed her Meg-gyver for using her wits when the pressure was on. With just some tape and a few zillion catalog covers, Meg made do. (See Meg reading about the perfect fairy tale exhibit booth?)

AND, here's where the aspirin comes in: the lovely and sympathetic Elizabeth Bird, blogger Fuse #8, saw fit to recognize the ingenuity of an exhibitor without a banner by declaring Charlesbridge the winner of the Best Last Minute Banner Because the Real One Didn't Get Delivered Award (Scroll down just past Neil Gaiman and just before the Storm Troopers).

From Fuse #8. Meg's clever interpretation of a booth banner,
called "Booth Banner For Banished Banner"

If you are interested (if you're still here), this is what the banner is supposed to look like:

Now close your eyes and imagine it ten feet wide and with Meg proudly standing in front of it.

Now my tale of woe is ended. To quote Bob Dylan, "Nothing was delivered/And I tell this truth to you/Not out of spite or anger/But simply because it's true."

Posted by Donna, hapless exhibit planner.


Jen Robinson said...

Sounds stressful, but I think you turned the whole thing into a positive. I liked the last-minute banner!

Anonymous said...

got here from a blog whose banner reads - if you can't see the bright side, polish the dull - sounds like what you did! great