Today, I arrived at New Orleans for the first day of the annual AHA/ASCH conferences.
After making my way to the hotel and settling in, I perused the book exhibit for an hour or so. I was surprised that Eerdmans did not reserve a booth this year. Eventually, I made my way to the NYU Press booth where I bought Ava Chamberlain's The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards, recalling Doug Sweeney's review of it on the JEC blog. I also talked myself into buying David Swartz's The Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservativism after finding out from the UPenn Press representative that I could purchase the display copy at half the price provided that I wait until Saturday evening to pick it up. After visiting the book exhibit, I meandered down Bourbon Street where I enjoyed a bowl of delicious Gumbo.
Later that evening I attended a panel chaired by Bill Cronon (the current president of the AHA) on "The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age." This was an interesting session in which five other panelists spoke about the growing pains of the history profession (and publishing industry) in the current digital age.
Despite the rising popularity of e-books, I continue to purchase all my texts in print form. In fact, I purposely don't own a tablet or e-reader. I want to own physical books that I can see the cover, hold in my hands as I read, and, most importantly, highlight thoughout. This is how I learn, and I hope to continue this practice regardless of where the publishing industry is headed. That being said, I appreciated some of the innovative perspectives from the panelists about the ways that students learn today (utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, for instance), and suggestions for how historians should write in this fast-pace environment.
I look forward to attending some of the ASCH sessions tomorrow, and eating more great food!