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ISA Annual Convention: A Recap

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Spring is an incredibly busy time at IPG for trade shows and conferences. We have London Book Fair, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, PLA Conference, TLA Annual Conference, and ISA Annual Convention, all within the same month! This year, Kathryn Cassibry, Online Content Coordinator, was tasked with attending the International Studies Association’s annual convention in San Francisco on IPG’s behalf. Here, she talks about the experience of attending her first academic conference, getting to visit with some of her favorite publishers— PM Press and Just World Books, and how great it was to be surrounded by intellectuals and book lovers from all over the world.

What was your primary objective for attending ISA, and what were you most excited for? 

Kathryn Cassibry, Online Content Coordinator: Our primary objective for attending ISA was to strengthen the awareness of the IPG Academic and Professional Publishing program within the political science and international politics sphere. We brought about 80 of our best titles relating to social justice, civic organization, African American studies, Native American studies, etc to display in our booth, so I was in good shape to show off our list. Another object was to get to know some of the other independent publishers exhibiting in the hall with us, and see if they would be a good fit for IPG.  

Two of our own wonderful publishers, PM Press and Just World Books, also had booths in the exhibit, and it was great to get to spend some time with them. Some of their titles, such as Revolutionary Mothering from PM Press and War Is a Lie from Just Word, were some of our most popular titles at the show.  

What I was also most excited for, personally, was to get the opportunity to chat with the professors, foreign service professionals, and international studies intellectuals from all over the world who stopped by to look at our books. It was so great to walk through the halls of the Hilton Union Square and hear Portuguese, Arabic, and Mandarin all in one go.

How was this year’s show different from others you’ve been to in the past? 

Kathryn: This was my first ISA (and academic conference in general), so I don’t have much to compare it to. I will say that it exceeded my expectations in the sheer size of the conference itself. It was huge! There were about 30 panels, presentations, or round-tables going on in at any given time in both of the two huge hotels ISA rented out in downtown San Francisco. The lobby alone was as close to a United Nations General Assembly as I’ve ever seen. 

What was the show’s biggest success, in your opinion? 

Kathryn: I think the shows biggest success, at least where the exhibit hall was concerned, was how many big-hitters in the international relations realm were present. On one end of the hall was the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States Institute of Peace, and on the other end were top university presses like Oxford University Press and Stanford University Press, with dozens of amazing exhibitors in between.  

I was also incredibly impressed with how efficiently the show was run. The set up and tear down of our booth was incredibly simple and there was always someone there to help if we needed it. We even had the event coordinator from ISA check in on us every once in a while to make sure everything was going as planned. It also seemed like the sessions were spread out quite nicely because there was always a steady stream of attendees throughout the exhibit hall. To top it all off, there was a life-size chess set and corn-hole to keep us entertained!

What would you like to see differently next year, either on the part of PLA or of IPG? 

Kathryn: If I had to pick one thing that could have been improved this year it would probably be our booth placement. We were a little out of the way, and though we had quite a few visitors, the hall was set up so that the Oxford University Press booth welcomed everybody in and then the crowd would flow in the opposite direction of our booth. However, I can’t complain too much because we were in great company with University of California Press right next to us and an imprint of Routledge right across.  

What was your main takeaway? 

Kathryn: My main takeaway was that the academic realm is huge. It was exciting to see how much IPG was already a part of it, but also to imagine how we could grow to be even more entrenched. Most of the publishers around me and the attendees visiting our booth were already familiar with us, but there are so many independent publishers and academic presses out there and it was great to get to know some of them.  


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