Saturday, December 10, 2011

Booksellers banned from RootsTech2012: No Way

Ol Myrt here is dumbfounded to read Book Venders Banned from the RootsTech Exhibit Hall  posted today by Leland Meitzler. FamilySearch has made a huge blunder here, painfully hitting these vendors quite literally in the wallet. I'd even characterize this as an unfair business practice.

Mr. Myrt and I felt it was so important that Martha Mercer of Mia's Books also vend at RootsTech 2012 that we offered her space in our downtown time-share condo to compensate for her coming all the way from her Ohio base of operations.

Leland, Martha and other book and magazine vendors have already beefed up their inventories in anticipation of high sales volume from what we all calculate to be the single largest conference in our field this year, if last year's RootsTech debut is any  indication. This capricious RootsTech decision to exclude booksellers leaves these vendors with high inventories and no place to vend.

For FamilySearch to have actively recruited Leland's RootsTech 2012 participation as recently as the September 2011 FGS Conference and now renege on the deal three months later is unthinkable.

There was room last year in the RootsTech vendor hall for a large Microsoft display with ping pong, foosball and pool tables. What does that have to do with genealogy and/or technology? Were the Microsoft video games more relevant to genealogists than offerings by book, magazine and genealogy tee-shirt vendors? I think not.

If I am wrong then perhaps we are to scan and immediately destroy our first edition Book of Mormon, along with the three family bibles from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I think not.

Last year we excused away a lot of logistical problems, but into year two, RootsTech should definitely have it's act together.

I can only anticipate an immediate apology from FamilySearch, and a move forward to include any genealogy, history or preservation vendor.

FamilySearch - the ball is in your court. Let's play nice.

PS - I am currently listed as an "Official RootsTech 2012 Blogger" but this blog post may place that status in jeopardy. Even so, I remain in support of all genealogy product vendors.

Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy


  1. I agree. This is a technology conference to be sure, but it's for technologists interested in genealogy! And that means browsing books. Let's hope that FamilySearch changes their mind.

  2. Thanks for your post Myrt. I was in Salt Lake City all week when this came down yesterday and I spoke at length with Leland Meitzler of FamilyRoots Publishing about this. A short-sighted decision which hopefully will be quickly corrected but I too may withdraw as a RootsTech Official Blogger.

  3. I have software discs and genealogy data CD's that are obsolete because the current OS won't read them, but books on my shelf will always be readable.

  4. We had the same experienceLeland describes! On Friday we finally received an email from Gordon Clark of Roots Tech, almost identical to the one you got. We were equally shocked.
    First, because our firm, Stories To Tell, provides editing and book design services, not book publishing – a technical service requiring book design software. Second, because RootsTech thought we were “technical” enough to have us teach a class “Self Publish Your MS Word Book Like a Pro” In addition, the RootsTech Program Committee contacted us November 15th to see if we would be willing to present another class as a lab. We said we would.
    We had sent in an exhibitor application at the RootsTech Booth at the California Family History Expo in early October. The RootsTech staffer at the Expo told us that we would hear from somebody from RootsTech within “a couple of weeks.” When we didn’t hear from anyone, we sent an inquiry on October 26th. We got no response. Finally, on December 8th, we sent another email inquiry and got Mr. Clark’s curt and dismissive reply the next day. We immediately telephoned to discuss the situation as Mr. Clark had invited us to do. Guess what. No reply. We are still hoping to speak with Mr. Clark.
    We, like you, are shocked by RootsTech’s misguided policy. To suggest that books aren’t an essential part of the tech world is simply to deny reality.
    Let’s hope that reason will prevail and RootsTech will reverse this ill-considered decision.
    Good luck Leland!
    Is there anyone else at RootsTech to appeal to? There must be a more sympathetic and knowledgeable person at Family Search who understands the importance of written information!

  5. Amen Sista Myrt, Amen! This is 2012 we are coming up on, not 1984!

  6. Way to go. I agree wholeheartedly. Give to them.

  7. "For FamilySearch to have actively recruited Leland's RootsTech 2012 participation as recently as the September 2011 FGS Conference and now renege on the deal three months later is unthinkable."

    Is this true? If so, don't you think this may be a legal issue? If there was an offer and an acceptance, depending on state laws, that may be considered a binding contract. There's no way that these book vendors should be left high and dry.

  8. Good for you, Myrt! As one who's been saving and hoping to attend RootsTech 2013 this is a shock. More than that, it's a deal breaker. I cannot imagine attending any type of genealogy conference or convention that forbids booksellers.

  9. Cannot respect a conference which makes arbitrary late decisions putting genealogy businesses at risk. An incredibly short-sighted last-minute decision, which seems not to see that attendees are GENEALOGISTS who use technology in research. I've sent an email expressing my intense dissatisfaction with their decision. Probably make no difference, but at least I've put my 2 cents into the pot.

  10. Ouch. I feel for my publishing brethren & sisters!

    There is a continuous peril for also the likes of professional genealogists who--oh, no--charge for their very useful services! Most of them are actually more than worthy of their hire for often stunning labors in the international ancestral vineyard.

    I have 77+ endearing endorsements on that's just since 2008--& that's just from folks who happen to be on Linkedin. As my mother used to say: "That & a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee."

    I have, pro bono, cracked numerous cases on the FamilySearch Germany/Prussia Research Council & Poland GRC pages on FaceBook! On those pages, I have had to accept that I am not permitted to post my URL, mention that I am a professional, etc.

    Oh, well. What goes around comes around. Is that in the Doctrine & Covenants somewhere?

    {;>) Please lighten up, FamilySearch or whoever is leading this ill-advised foray into discrimination against professionals who are indeed "on topic."

    I am fairly certain that the Savior is not opposed to people who make a living doing what they love, be it now selling goods, services or wares associated with ancestry, genealogy & family history.

  11. Microsoft getting priority over book vendors? Who would have guessed. Keep in mind that a large organization like NEHGS runs Microsoft owned Silverlight to view their digitized collections, and those of us who use Macs are still dismissed in many genealogy circles with few contenders for database software without having to install emulators to run Windows. So yeah, not too surprised at the priority given.

    But this is about books. And when technology folks want to focus on genealogy ebooks and online databases, they face the reality that there is still much more in print than online. In recent research, I found very few genealogy books are available online as ebooks or downloads. Users know this, but developers (who may have deeper pockets due to company expense accounts) may not care.
    But to say book vendors aren't welcome at a technology related event is silly. Every single tech conference I've attended (Macworld, ApacheCon, Web2.0, DefCon, FreeBSDCon) has had book vendors. Even tech heavy folks need to give their wrists a break and thumb through old-fashioned paper every so often. I wonder if O'Reilly Publishing would be welcome as they are at every other tech conference.

  12. Well said Myrt. I hope they take notice that the genealogy public are not in favor of their decision. It's my understanding they are "revisiting" their decision. I love technology, but I also love my books. We need both, so let's not exclude one for the other.

  13. This is certainly a dilemma, and I trust will be resolved now that the masses have spoken. However, the fact that you feel your official blogger status is in jeopardy is of more concern to me. I would hope you are not contractually obligated to report only a bias version of this event.

  14. I checked and the form for exhibitors specifically bans book publishers and arts and crafts vendors. I suspect that they are getting rid of the scrapbook suppliers, but it could be interpreted to include suppliers of archival supplies. It is really irrelevant, in banning any group of vendors, FamilySearch will lose many genealogists like myself who plan to attend the expo specifically to buy books, supplies, and electronic databases and books. I find myself wondering if this ban does include electronic book publishers. Many of the genealogy software vendors do publish books, both print and electronic. How is this fair to the book publisher, that only the resellers can sell their stock. The costs for the genealogists wishing to buy any materials will befacing considerably higher prices. It certainly is banning some of our best publishers who in the past helped defray conference costs. I could care less about computerized playgrounds what, I want books.

  15. Dear Myrtle,
    We want to thank you for your quick action in sounding the alarm about RootsTech’s decision not to allow books, book related products or services in the exhibit hall. It was through your blog that we found out about Leland Meitzler’s post and were able to get involved in the social media outcry. It was wonderful to see that we as rejected exhibitors didn’t have to plead our case alone. Today we heard from Gordon Clarke today and Stories To Tell will be exhibiting at RootsTech after all. It wouldn’t have happened without bloggers like you and the lesson in the power of social media you’ve taught us all.
    Thanks, and best wishes,
    Nancy and Biff Barnes

  16. I could not verify the form for exhibitors, as it has been removed from this site as "the hall is full". One may only submit a request to be on a waiting list.