Over the past seven days, we've been exhibiting Accordance at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature. We had about half a dozen people manning our booth at ETS, and no less than fourteen for the larger booth at SBL. Since I started working for Accordance in 1995, I've participated in every SBL meeting except one, and we've always been extremely busy. Still, I've never seen it like this.
Usually I get a little time to stroll around the exhibit hall or otherwise take a break, but this year I was almost continually doing demos, answering questions, or otherwise helping out. In most years, I'll do fewer demos on the last half-day of the show, since people are generally in a hurry to catch their flights home and so may only stop in to make a quick last minute purchase. Not this year. I was demonstrating Accordance until the moment I had to leave to catch my flight!
At one point, during a quick trip to the restroom, I ran into one of the book publishers exhibiting at the show, and after the initial hello-how-are-things-going, he remarked, "Boy, you guys have been really busy over there!" I just laughed and joked that I had barely had time to breathe! Later I learned that other members of the booth staff were hearing the same kinds of remarks from other people. Apparently, we created something of a stir.
A great deal of this activity was driven by new users, many of whom had recently switched to Mac. Some would come hoping this Mac software would prove comparable to the tools they were accustomed to using. They would leave wishing they had switched to Mac (and Accordance) much sooner. Yet it wasn't just Mac switchers who were turning to Accordance. We did brisk sales to PC users wishing to use Accordance on the emulator.
At these shows, Accordance doesn't just draw crowds; it generates excitement. It is quite common to be in the middle of a demo to someone and be interrupted by one of their colleagues or professors who enthusiastically tells them that Accordance is the best. It is also common to have Accordance users sit down at the demo computers and start demoing to their friends and colleagues themselves, without asking for any assistance from one of us.
All in all, these conferences are exhausting but fun. In spite of economic uncertainty and increased competition, this has been our most successful ETS/SBL ever. After I recover from all the activity, I'll blog about the shows in more detail. In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving!