AAAL and TESOL: Dallas 2013

For us, the month of March is almost synonymous with conference season and our annual trip to the US to exhibit at the AAAL and TESOL conferences.  This year was no different, so after our trip to Toronto (which you can read all about here), Tommi and I headed south to Dallas.

Tommi on our stand at AAAL
Tommi on our stand at AAAL

In true Texan style, everything seemed big, including our space in the exhibit hall which made our tables and books seem miniature, and it was hard to work out how best to organise our stand.  Fortunately, Tommi had great visions and so we set up our stand in a triangular shape, which Tommi dubbed as “the cutting edge”!  As usual, we had brought all our new titles and some of our more recent and popular books from our long backlist.  The bestsellers at AAAL this year were Language and Mobility by Alastair Pennycook, Kimie Takahashi’s Language Learning, Gender and Desire and Native-Speakerism in Japan edited by Stephanie Houghton and Damian J. Rivers.

Tommi and Laura: TESOL does Texas!
Tommi and Laura: TESOL does Texas!

The back-to-back scheduling of AAAL and TESOL is very convenient for us as it involves less travel and we find it easy to transfer materials between the two venues.  This year we were lucky to have a morning off between the end of AAAL and set up for TESOL so Tommi and I spent the free time visiting the JFK museum which we thought was very well done and really interesting. Then it was straight on to the bustle of TESOL!  The TESOL audience can be a bit wider and different to the AAAL one, so we alter our books on display accordingly.  Popular titles there included Integrating Multilingual Students into College Classrooms by Johnnie Johnson Hafernik and Fredel M. Wiant and Roger Barnard and Anne Burn’s edited volume Researching Language Teacher Cognition and Practice.

Our evenings in Texas were spent enjoying steaks and Tex Mex, as well as the good company of colleagues we rarely see.  We met with Suzanne and John Edwards, who have known Multilingual Matters since our early days, John being the series editor of our original book series; Aneta Pavlenko, who is keen to work closely with publishers at next year’s AAAL, which she is presiding over; and Terry Wiley and Susan Gilson from CAL, who we are working with on an exciting new series of books. We were also able to join the contributors to Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter MacIntyre and Alastair Henry’s forthcoming book for a drink and catch up with many more delegates at the AAAL opening reception.

Rodeo in Fort Worth
Rodeo in Fort Worth

What with all those arrangements, it’s a wonder that Tommi and I also found time to go to the Cowtown Coliseum rodeo show in Fort Worth and join the other publishers to see the Dallas Stars take on the Calgary Flames in an ice hockey match.  If you’re ever in Dallas, we highly recommend both of those trips for a good evening of entertainment!


Tommi and Laura visit Toronto

In March, Tommi and I visited Toronto on our way from the UK to the AAAL and TESOL conferences in Dallas. Not only is Toronto (surprisingly, to me, as my Geography is a bit patchy) a logical rest-stop en route, but it is also home to our North American book distributor, UTP, and several of our authors.

Tommi and Laura with Hamish, Smita and Carol at UTP
Tommi and Laura with Hamish, Smita and Carol at UTP

UTP are in charge of shipping books to all our customers in Canada and the USA and so we have daily contact with at least one of our colleagues, Smita, Dolores, Carol and Hamish, and the rest of the team, who work there.  I have been working at Multilingual Matters for a couple of years now, so I was very excited to visit a place which I’ve had so much contact with, but not visited in person.  For Tommi, it was more a case of catching up with old friends!

On arrival at UTP, and after meeting everyone, Carol took us on a tour of the warehouse, so I could understand exactly what happens when our orders arrive.  We saw how the orders are processed, from the receipt of the order from the customer, right up to the book leaving the door, packed and ready for shipment.  I particularly enjoyed finding our books on the shelves as we walked through the warehouse and spotting a packer unpacking a box of returned books that I had sent back from the NABE conference in February.

UTP's Warehouse
UTP’s Warehouse

Smita then showed me how she deals with the different types of requests I send on to her, such as sending inspection/desk copies to lecturers and inputting new titles into the system.  We happened to receive a couple of emails from Ellie, who was in our office in Bristol at the time, so Smita had some genuine examples of her work to show me.

Apart from visiting UTP, Tommi and I also went to meet Alister Cumming and his graduate students at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).  They were spending the day discussing their forthcoming presentations at AAAL and during the lunch break, Tommi and I were able to give a talk about publishing their research both with us in particular, and general advice about what is appropriate for publication as a book, and what is better suited for publication as journal articles. It was great for us to meet everyone and hear about what they are working on, and hope that they found our session of interest.

Merrill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman's book
Merrill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman’s book

We thoroughly enjoyed spending our evenings in Toronto with Merrill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman, authors of Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education; long-standing publisher friends of Multilingual Matters, Jonathan and Dorothea Lovat Dickson, of Pippin Press; and Greg Poarch, who has recently moved to York University, Toronto.  Tommi and I were definitely spoilt with excellent company and delicious food throughout the week, and we’re already looking forward to our return to Toronto, which we hope will be before the city hosts AAAL in 2015.


Tommi and Laura’s US Travels

I’ve just got back to the office after two and a half weeks in the US. Here’s a little round-up of what kept Tommi and me so busy in Boston, Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

Yankee Book Pedlar

Our first meeting of the trip was with Yankee Book Pedlar, a US library supplier, in Contoocook, New Hampshire. While Tommi had visited before, this was my first visit and so they kindly gave us an overview of how they work. I especially enjoyed being shown how the books are profiled, and was amazed to hear that a team of fewer than 10 log over 60,000 books a year. These titles are profiled so as to ensure that university libraries get books that they are interested in, and only the books that they might want. The profiling is done with the book “in hand”, so the staff get to look at a large and diverse selection of titles each day. Tommi said that if he ever retires from publishing that this might be the job for him!


After our meeting, and driving in the wrong direction for half an hour (!), we took the coastal road back to Boston and enjoyed visiting Portsmouth, which was unsurprisingly very different to Portsmouth, UK.

EBSCO's Charging Station

On arrival at EBSCO we were given a tour of the offices, and were impressed with all the measures they are taking to be eco-friendly, such as installing solar panels on the roof of their offices; providing their reps with hybrid cars and electric charging points in the car park; developing a green staff café, complete with a solar water heater and providing staff (and Tommi and me!) with re-usable travel mugs. If you’d like to read more about sustainability, EBSCO’s blog on it can be found here. Following the meeting, Tommi and I returned to Boston via Salem. Although we didn’t find any witches, we did stumble upon this incredible second-hand bookshop.

Bookshop in Salem

The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) conference ran for the next four days and as usual we were very busy catching up with many academics and publishers, and selling our books of course. Amongst the most popular titles were Aya Matsuda’s edited volume Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language, Theory and Practice in EFL Teacher Education edited by Julia Hüttner et al and Joel Bloch’s new book Plagiarism, Intellectual Property and the Teaching of L2 Writing. We are already looking forward to next year’s meeting in Dallas and to receiving book proposals based on some of the interesting projects that we were told about.

Boston Bruins versus Tampa Bay Lightning

After the conference was over, and before leaving for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Conference in Philadelphia, Tommi and I found time to enjoy a well-deserved break: a not-so-relaxing, but very fun, evening at the Boston Bruins versus Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey match. While Tommi might maintain Finnish hockey is better (!), it was the most exciting hockey game I’ve ever seen.

On arrival in Philadelphia, Tommi barely had time to eat a cheesesteak before it was time for the TESOL conference to get underway. Our stall was very popular, giving us little time to explore the exhibition hall, and the evenings were filled by fellow publisher Caslon’s drinks reception in one of Philadelphia’s historic buildings and an enjoyable dinner with some of our colleagues from CAL. Before we knew it, it was time for Tommi to head on to Canada for AERA and for me to take a few days’ holiday in New York before returning to the UK. Watch this space for news about Tommi’s Canadian trip.


Conferences ahoy!

We are now approaching our busiest conference season of the year. Over the next couple of months we will be heading off to our spring conferences. Between them, Tommi and Laura will be attending the Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, AAAL, TESOL and AERA conferences in the US and Canada. In the meantime, Elinor will be the attending the Bilingual and Multilingual Interaction conference back in the UK. We will also be going to the Sociolinguistics Symposium later in the summer in Berlin.

Ellie, Laura and a new friend at TESOL last year
Our stand at last year's AAAL conference

If you’re attending any of these conferences please do come and say hello. We love to meet people face-to-face and discuss what they’re working on. We also sell all our books at special conference discounts so you can pick up a bargain while you’re there! We always bring a large display of our books so you can have a browse through our new titles. If you’re one of our authors and are going to be at a conference that we’re attending please let us know in plenty of time and we’ll make sure we have extra copies of your book on display. We hope to see you soon!

AAAL 2011

At the end of March Tommi and I attended the annual AAAL (American Association for Applied Linguistics) conference in Chicago.  AAAL is one of our most important conferences as a large proportion of our authors, editors and customers attend.  So for me, as a newcomer to the world of linguistics and publishing, I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to go and meet everyone.

Our programme for the week was packed and didn’t leave much time for getting to know Chicago: we had the Multilingual Matters reception; the book launch for our new book celebrating Nancy Hornberger’s 60th birthday; dinner with fellow independent publisher John Benjamins and of course, we had to be up early to man our stand from 8am!  The busy conference gave Tommi the opportunity to catch up with many familiar contacts and meant that I was able to meet many people for the first time.  As a small publisher we all work with each of the titles and authors at some point along the chain and it’s great for me to now associate more than just an email address with a fair proportion of the books on the shelves behind my desk.

As we have entered a Channel View team for the Bristol 10k run in May, I did have to make time to do some exercise and decided that going for a run would enable me to see more of Chicago than the conference hotel.  While running I was struck by how different Chicago is to New Orleans (the only other American city I’ve ever visited).  Since I’ve been back many people have asked me which I prefer and, like when people ask me which of the languages I speak I prefer, I find I can’t reply as they are just incomparable.  Both cities had a real buzz about them, but the buzzes were different, and I can’t quite put my finger on what makes them both so individual.