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Where Were Linda and Sandy? A look at the NEIBA trade show (Part 1) October 5, 2010

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Last week, Linda and I traveled to Providence, RI, to attend the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) trade show. I’ve been to a few of these shows, while Linda has seen about 20 or so during her life as a bookseller. This is the regional trade show–as opposed to Book Expo America (BEA), which is the national trade show that takes place in late May–tailored to bookstores across New England. Though there are certainly larger urban bookstores among us, many of us share similar experiences as small stores in rural areas. At the trade show, we get together to discuss challenges and successes; exchange ideas for merchandising, marketing, and events; and most of all, to talk about books.

Like many conferences, NEIBA is a place where you find yourself among your People, the ones who get excited about the same things that you do, who really get you, and give you permission to embrace your inner nerd. Our favorite authors and illustrators get to feel like rock stars as we gush over their work and ask for autographs. (My favorite souvenir of the weekend: City Dog, Country Frog, personally signed by Jon Muth!)

The three day event started out with the New England Booksellers Awards Luncheon, to honor the winners of said awards. These authors and their books were chosen democratically, with NEIBA members sending in nominations, then voting on the top choices in each category.

Gail Caldwell, whose memoir Let’s Take the Long Way Home has received national attention, was awarded the prize for non-fiction. She spoke movingly about the opportunity that writing this book gave her to spend two years with the friend she’d lost.

The children’s award winner was the aforementioned City Dog, Country Frog, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon Muth. Since Willems wasn’t able to attend, Muth accepted for both of them, as well as for Willems’ dog Nelson, who had prepared a very funny acceptance speech for the occasion.

Finally, Lily King accepted the award for fiction, given to her novel Father of the Rain. She spoke of her passion for writing–spurred at an early age by a Judy Blume book her mother bought for her–and gave encouragement to any aspiring writer, saying that she wrote her novel at an average of two pages a day, and that is something that anyone can accomplish. She also shared some funny stories from her days as a bookseller, which were greatly appreciated by this crowd. (Example: “Do you have War and Peace by Tolstoy?” “No, I’m sorry, we’re out.” “Oh. Do you have it by anyone else?”)

Our trade organizations, NEIBA and the American Bookseller’s Association (ABA) both work year round to put together great educational sessions for trade shows and other events. This year, I attended panel discussions on Large Scale Events (though I may never organize an event that draws over 500 people, there were still great tips on communicating with publicists and putting together event proposals), We Love Our Reps! (more tips on effective communication, this time with your sales reps, and on how to use the online catalogs that more publishers are beginning to use), More Than a Bookstore (how to branch out your business, whether through digital media or by adding new products and services), and a presentation on Google Editions (the e-book format that we hope will be available to our customers through galaxybookshop.com before Christmas!) As always, I got more information out of some sessions than others, but the discussions generated during and after each were valuable.

To Be Continued…

Next post: More awards, more authors, more booksellers, and the Actual Trade Show.

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1. Tweets that mention Where Were Linda and Sandy? A look at the NEIBA trade show (Part 1) « Written in the Stars -- Topsy.com - October 7, 2010

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NEIBA2, Nan Sorensen. Nan Sorensen said: RT @NEIBA2: Where Were Linda and Sandy? A look at the NEIBA trade show (Part 1) http://bit.ly/dbrkAb [...]


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