The Society of Biblical Literature holds its annual meeting alongside at least four other major conferences: the American Academy of Religion, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the American Schools for Oriental Research. Because there are normally about 7000 professors and students in attendance, all the major publishers also attend.
The book exhibit, to put it mildly, is the center of activity for many. Publishers put out scads of copies of their new releases, offer good prices, and also bring along their acquisition editors in order to spend time with potential authors.
[I use SBL to buy the bulk of my books every year, and here they are. Can you guess which ones Kris bought? (Hint: top right.)]
Put 7000 professors and students in a massive room full of brand-new books and tempt with good prices and you have guaranteed a percentage of professors/students who will spend more money than they should.
The most commony repeated line at SBL is this one: “I’d like to buy this book but my wife (or husband) is already going to kill me.” Young professors stroll through the book stalls thinking, not about their students, not about their colleagues, not about their research, but about how much they can buy before their spouses go through the roof because they spent too much.
And they think about the needs of their spouses, and then think think about Christmas and their kids, and then they wonder if their kids really need some of those things, and then think that they probably don’t and the next thing you know they are spending the monies they had planned for their kids at Christmas.
As for me and my house — Kris went with me for the first time this year, really enjoyed herself, and she thought the book exhibit was awesome. Of course, it’s a lot different now that Laura and Lukas are married, we’ve got two incomes, and those days are behind us. But, she’s never been one to spend more than she thought she should — she saw a couple of books that she “thought” (less than certain) she “might” (less than certain) like, saw the price and didn’t think she wanted to spend quite that amount, so she went back to the room, looked them up at www.abebooks.com, and sure enough — found them much, much cheaper — she ordered them. One of them for less than a dollar! She recently bought a used book for .02 (with $3.00 added on for shipping)!