Librarians are an amazing lot. First, they are readers but then they parlay that love of the written word to others in their sphere. A book that is unread is just so much ink and paper (or possibly electronic blips on a screen.) Librarians and booksellers are the ones who help books come to life.

I was privileged to sign ARCs (advanced reader copies) of COPYBOY for librarians this past weekend at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. Capstone Editions was gracious enough to bring me in for the signing.

Many of the librarians in line had already heard about COPYBOY, which will be available Aug. 1. I recognized and chatted with old friends made on my travels with PAPERBOY.

I heard various accounts of the number of conference attendees, but I think 25,000 is a safe guess. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans covers 11 blocks. It was packed. The line to see keynote speaker Michelle Obama  extended most of those 11 blocks. Someone told us that there are only eight cities with convention facilities large enough to host the annual gathering.

The experience in New Orleans was made more special for me by the story of COPYBOY where the young protagonist embarks on a journey that leads him to the Mississippi River Bridge in New Orleans. As I signed books, that bridge crossed the river just outside the convention hall doors. I almost expected to see a 17-year-old boy named Victor looking over the railing of the bridge.

Capstone also sponsored a dinner with its other authors and several librarians the night before my signing. This group included Bao Phi, author, and Thi Bui, illustrator, of this year’s Caldecott Honor book A DIFFERENT POND, and Alexs Pate, author of the new picture book BEING YOU. The food at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico restaurant obviously was wonderful, but the company was even better.

There is something special being in the presence of librarians and book lovers. I know that just being in their midst doesn’t make one any smarter, but it certainly feels that way.

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