By Avery Cook
After two long years of conference Zoom rooms, we donned our lanyards once again and set up our table-skirted shop at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) in Boston, from March 31 through April 3.
With the conference in our backyard this year, we attended with numbers and enthusiasm, enjoying for the first time since 2019 the privilege of being surrounded by our books and chatting in person with some of our authors. Our booth saw visits from Mary Frances Berry, author of Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich and History Teaches Us to Resist and coauthor of Power in Words; Melinda Chateauvert, author of Sex Workers Unite; Dana Frank, author of Buy American and coauthor of Three Strikes; Marcus Rediker, author of Villains of All Nations, Outlaws of the Atlantic, The Fearless Benjamin Lay, coauthor of The Many-Headed Hydra, and editor of Prophet Against Slavery. And two of our forthcoming authors, Gloria Browne-Marshall, who wrote She Took Justice, and Rhonda Y. Williams, who wrote Concrete Demands, were there, too!
The titles attendees flocked to at this year’s conference were Dr. Keisha Blain’s Until I Am Free, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Not “A Nation of Immigrants” and An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, David Lester, Marcus Rediker, and Paul Buhle’s Prophet Against Slavery, Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross’s A Black Women’s History of the United States, and Kyle T. Mays’s An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States. It was exciting to see titles both from our backlist and from recent years side by side reaching new audiences, and we look forward to sharing forthcoming history titles, including Catherine Ceniza Choy’s Asian American Histories of the United States, coming out this August, which was popular as advance reader copies at the booth.
We asked a few members of our team to share their thoughts about being back at OAH. Here’s what they said:
“After two years of not being able to attend academic conferences, it was nothing less than a joy to be able to attend the OAH—and a definite plus that it was in Boston. It was wonderful to spend time with Beacon colleagues, meeting some of them in person for the first time. And after our virtual existence for the last two years, the impact of being together with other publishers in one space, surrounded by books and catching up with friends, was poignant. Highlights included sharing a meal with Beacon authors Mary Frances Berry, Melinda Chateauvert, Marcus Rediker, Paul Ortiz, and future authors Gloria Browne-Marshall and Rhonda Y. Williams. My son, Matthew, who joined us on the last day, thoroughly enjoyed his first OAH, generously helping himself to swag from every publisher and finally experiencing for himself these mysterious conferences his mother periodically attends!”
—Gayatri Patnaik, publisher and incoming director
“For me, I think the biggest positive changes were how much more we use technology at the booth. When I started five years ago, we were doing a lot of sales and requests on paper, and now we are using iPads for all transactions and using QR codes to link to special offers and newsletter sign ups. It’s exciting to see how much we’ve been able to streamline things.
As many other people probably said, this was a slower year for us - most likely because of lingering COVID impacts. But it was a great opportunity to be able to be close to home for our first in-person event since November 2019! It was definitely a smaller conference than usual, but I imagine things will get busier later in the year.
We still received numerous compliments and messages of thanks from people who noted how crucial these books are the current moment. And as always, everyone loves all our swag!”
—Emily Powers, senior marketing manager
“I was really motivated by the work the countless OAH historians were presenting and felt new energy towards different topics that I think would lend themselves really well to Beacon books. I got the opportunity to meet some of our authors for the first time and to share enthusiasm with them about their work and about the work we’ve done or will do together. It was amazing to get to see our books and our staff in action and to get to be in a space like that, in person, for the first time in too long!”
—Ruthie Block, editorial assistant
From here, Beacon Press continues plans for attending the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Diego later this month.
About the Author
Avery Cook joined the Beacon sales and marketing teams in 2022. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2021, where she studied creative writing and worked in community outreach, interfaith organizing, and archival research around American communal societies.