Because I serve on committees, I had about 45 minutes for a run through exhibits on Sunday afternoon. ARCs were virtually non-existent. Now, publishers are lovely folks who tend to send ARCs to me, so I do not depend on conference to pick up loads of titles. However, I did see folks with rolling bags (yes, that is plural) crammed with books (and in some cases, multiple copies of the same title). Here is where I lose my equilibrium about things. And then to find some of these same ARCs for sale on eBay? really? Ethics apparently count for nothing.
Kelly at STACKED discussed this; so did Liz at her blog. Some commenters tried to provide arationale for this grabby behavior. But, bottom line is that there is no excuse for amassing bags and boxes and carts full of books unless they are going to pass from hand to hand. Already the 5 ARCs I managed to obtain at ALA have been read, blogged, and passed along to other readers. I have a hallway full of books I have read and blogged that will go to teachers at an upcoming workshop. I ship books to colleagues; I give books to grad students. My books pass thorugh my hands and into the hands of other readers (and, ultimately, I hope result in sales to libraries).
If you think the goal of a conference is to see how many books you can score, you need to rethink your goal. Conference time for me is a time of talking to colleagues, serving the organization on committees, attending sessions and meetings. I figure that the 5 books I picked up basically cost me about $200 a piece once I factor in travel, registration, and other costs associated with conference attendance. Hardly a deal. But I left Anaheim with so many wonderful memories including Daniel Handler playing his accordion and singing to us at the Printz reception; seeing the friendly faces of the publishers; hanging out with colleagues I only get to see a couple of times a year; roaring with laughter at Jack Gantos' Newbery speech.
So, you book grabbers: come back to conference but come in the spirit of giving back, please. Come to NCTE in Las Vegas and attend the ALAN Workshop. Come to San Antonio for IRA.
When I posted about bad behavior at a state library conference a little more than a year ago, I was chastised by fellow attendees. But I saw them ducking under tables and taking ARCs and taking display copies of books while no one was watching. That is just bad behavior. Period. Be professional whether you are a blogger, a librarian, a teacher, or whatever. That's all we ask.