The AHA Virtual Exhibit Hall
A New Way to Cultivate the Community of Historians
If you’re like me, the Exhibit Hall is one of your favorite parts of the AHA annual meeting. Always a whirlwind of activity, the Exhibit Hall offers unparalleled opportunities to network with editors and authors, peruse the latest scholarship, and take advantage of conference discounts—especially on Sunday mornings!—to stock up on books. The smell of freshly printed books, the rapidly expanding tote bags filling with purchases and giveaways, and most importantly, the impromptu conversations with colleagues and press staff combine each year to create an unforgettable experience. Nowhere, for me, does the gathering of historians feel more like a community than in the hustle and bustle of the Exhibit Hall.
The cancellation of the 2021 annual meeting means that there will be no physical exhibit hall this year. But the change in our meeting plans has also created new and exciting opportunities to connect with one another from a distance. Nowhere is this more evident than in the AHA Virtual Exhibit Hall, which went live on October 1.
Navigate to the homepage (historians.org/ExhibitHall), and you’ll find storefronts for a variety of publishers and other vendors. Scroll for an overview of available content, then click on the booths to see what each exhibitor has to offer. Most feature exclusive discounts and announcements of new books, hot off the presses. Some include videos, press catalogs, links to special publisher websites exclusively for AHA visitors, and access to networking opportunities and other content. Behind each virtual page is an editorial team that is excited to interact with you and learn about your work and your interests.
In some ways, the Virtual Exhibit Hall is very different from its physical predecessor. The smell of new books, the sound of simultaneous conversations, and the feeling of being physically surrounded by colleagues simply can’t be replicated in a virtual environment. But what the new format lacks in sensory fulfillment, it richly makes up for with greater accessibility. Unlike the physical exhibit space, the Virtual Exhibit Hall is free and open to everyone, regardless of one’s ability to travel to the annual meeting or AHA membership. What’s more, the booths will be open not for four days, but for nine months—from October until June 30, 2021. Make sure to check back often to take advantage of new discounts and new exhibitors.
If you’ve never had the AHA Exhibit Hall experience, make this your first time. If you’re an Exhibit Hall veteran like me, welcome back. For better or worse, this may not look or feel like the space you remember—but rest assured, the community of historians is the same.
Jeremy C. Young is communications and marketing manager at the AHA. He tweets @jeremycyoung.
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