Kalamazoo Diaries #2: This Conference is Berserk!

The second full day at the 45th annual International Congress on Medieval Studies started with 15 copies of my brand new book, The Viking Age: A Reader, on one side of the booth, and 15 copies of Medieval Medicine: A Reader (the other new book in the extremely popular Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures series) on the other. By noon, we were down to 7 copies of each. Using discarded wine glasses from the daily wine hour, Natalie started keeping score of which book was going to run out first.

On the other side of the booth, the happy sounds of Suzanne greeting her authors permeated the humid air. Lisi Oliver, upcoming author of The Body Legal, stopped by, and she was followed by many other past, present, and future UTP authors. The beautiful British Library guides sold themselves throughout the day (Medieval Birds, especially, flew off the shelves).

Anna’s cartoons and “Berserker for a Buck” buttons were the talk of Kzoo with students and profs and independent scholars alike coming to the booth to pick up the swag.

When the nervous voice of the Western Michigan student volunteer announced that there were only 15 minutes left, the girls looked surprised. It had been a busy day. I was exhausted and so were they. We went down to Bell’s Brewery but could not get in. Our old mainstay, the local tapas restaurant, had one free table so we were able to feast on rattlesnake rolls and dates wrapped in bacon. Natalie carried me home in her arms and I snoozed until she put me into bed.

We arrived at the booth this morning for the third full day of the conference with only 5 copies of The Viking Age and Medieval Medicine remaining. All bets were on. At around 11:00 a.m. one of my creators, Andrew McDonald, came by for a photo op with me. He was all smiles as he showed me and my book to his graduate students.

After he left, the booth began to buzz like a fire sale at Holt Renfrew. Medievalists jousted with each other over final copies. By late afternoon, Rosenwein’s A Short History of the Middle Ages was a memory, as was anything to do with the Carolingians or the Merovingians.

Anna and Natalie met in the middle of the booth and declared the next hour dedicated to selling anything in the booth that had to do with Crusades. That gave me a chance to get a glass of mead and a white wine chaser, and also to try on a souvenir t-shirt. In just an hour, 3 copies of Sacred Violence and 3 copies of the bestselling Crusades reader were gone.  

Adoption rumours were amok when the gossip mill started to circulate news of an adoption of The Viking Age: A Reader at Purdue University, as well as an adoption of Medieval Medicine at SUNY Oneonta.

By 5:00 p.m., there was only one over-massaged copy of Medieval Medicine left. By 5:05 p.m., there was only one of my Viking readers left. The girls called the contest a draw. In the end, we were all winners.

I’ve decided to stay in the UTP booth for the night so that I can catch up on my blog, and hopefully spend some time looking at books and coins and eating the white chocolate peanut butter cups left for me by a very kind nun. Tomorrow morning will be the end of the book fair and I will need to get some rest so that I can stand tall one last time at the ICMS!

Kzoo 4Ever.

-The Berserker

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