After three weeks of traveling, my last trip finished up in Austin, Texas, on Saturday at the Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA) conference. Whereas my earlier trips to Harlingen and West Texas were individual meetings with Texas State Technical College faculty and staff, at TCCTA we had a booth in the exhibit hall. Although I’ve worked the TSTC booth for the last two years at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) conference in May, this is the first time we’ve had one of our own. (Click on the thumbnail below to see a larger picture.)
Christopher Wilson, as seen above, and I were there on Friday and Saturday. We have three basic types of publications—technology forecasts, general-use textbooks, and custom textbooks—and what we were aiming to do, of course, was promote our books as well as scout around for new book projects. We won’t exactly know how well we did in those areas for a while—you always talk to a ton people but at that point who can tell what will pan out and what won’t?—but, at the very least, it was an excellent networking opportunity.
For example, the Wiley booth was just across from ours. This year is their 200th anniversary and during that time they’ve published all kinds of major works, including Moby-Dick (Bantam Classics). I chatted with one of their reps for a while and he told me how selling books on campus had changed in the last 15 years. (Mainly, there are many more products, most of which have many different versions and/or delivery formats available.)
I also ran into David Pike of Thomson. Four years ago when I was still teaching English he was the acquisitions editor at Kendall/Hunt who helped us put together the project that lead to our English comp anthology TECHNE being published. This was the pilot project that lead, ultimately, to TSTC Publishing being formed so, in his own way, David has been there since the beginning.
And, as always, I ran into an interesting assortment of folks that I didn’t know and probably never would have met otherwise: a professor going on sabbatical to retrace the route of Spanish conquistadors from Mexico to South America, a TSTC graduate working the facility who ran up to shake my hand and say how much he enjoyed going to school here, the president of an industrial training company with sage thoughts on sales and distribution issues, two very nice sales reps in the TAC booth next to ours, and, oddly enough, the college roommate of my father-in-law.
The most interesting “connection” I made, though, was by way of the school’s Ford Escape that I drove down. As you can see, is very eye-catching. (Once again, click the thumbnail to see a larger version.)
Anyway, when I came out of my room on Saturday morning, there was a note underneath the windshield wiper. For a moment my stomach sank—I’m thinking, Oh no! Somebody backed into it (or something) and just left a note!—but, instead of that, it was a message from a consulting microbiologist from Iowa saying that he loved the wrap on our SUV. It just goes to show, you never can tell who you’ll come in contact with!
Finally, I must thank Dr. Pepper in Waco, Texas, for donating eight cases of soft drinks for us to give away in our TSTC Publishing koozies at the TCCTA conference. It’s one thing to get a giveaway item at a conference . . . it’s another thing entirely when it’s got tasty soft drink in it!