Thursday, 27 November 2008

Around the traps

2 Comments:

John P. said...

I was at AAR and I am an employee of SBL...needless to say, I was at both meetings. The book sales issue was interesting to observe.

First, the layout of AAR's book exhibition was just plain awful. it was labyrinthine and very perplexing. This is not necessarily the organizations fault, as much as resulting from the poor layout of the facility.

Second, AAR has the advantage and disadvantage of including Systematic theology, environmental religion, pagan studies, buddhist and hindu studies, American religion, religion and food, religion and animals, and a wide/ever expanding list of fields in religious studies. As a result, it seems that most books will not necessarily be relevant to a large swath of attendees.

Third, the exact opposite is the case with SBL. Biblical scholars, by and large, are interested in a particular range of issues which the publishers can focus their displays on. Many of the vendors expressed sheer amazement at how many more books were sold (And how much more money was made!) in Boston as opposed to Chicago. I think this has a little to do with layout (much easier to navigate) and a lot to do with the fact that almost all literature in Biblical studies is cognate...in some shape or form.

Another theory floating around the Boston book exhibit was that - as opposed to scholars in AAR - those in SBL actually do research.

As a member of both societies, and a person who has spent a small fortune at both conferences, I would have to disagree!

Not surprised there is great disappointment among publishers though.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, John, for this very interesting report. Sounds like SBL might be the better place not only for theologians, but also for booksellers!

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