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Books, books everywhere, and not a minute to read–the NEIBA trade show (part 2) October 14, 2010

Posted by Galaxy in Book news.
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(Sorry for the delay on this post. I was held up by the fact that I kept forgetting to upload the remainder of my photos from my camera. ~S)

So, there were lots of great learning opportunities at NEIBA, but there was also plenty of social time, which is often just as important. You might think that all of these bookstores would be in competition with one another, but we often think of one another as collaborators. Trade shows and conferences allow us to put our heads together to share ideas–what’s worked, what hasn’t–and work out solutions to problems that face all of us, whether it’s staffing, inventory management, or understanding new technologies. For example, one idea that I brought back from this show was to host a reception for some of the local authors we haven’t been able to schedule for readings during the summer. (That will be happening November 16–stay tuned for details!)

 

Our friend Hiata, from Bridgeside Books in Waterbury, shows off some of her swag.

 

Of course, one of the big draws of any trade show are the freebies, right? There are two types of booksellers at these shows: the ones who admit up front that they’re going to pick up too many books, and the ones who claim they’re going to show some restraint, then take home a lot more books than they were planning, even knowing that there are stacks of ARCs already waiting back at the store. (I’m in the latter category.)

It starts at the lunches, dinners, and breakfasts, where the featured author’s books are given away to attendees. It continues at the author reception, which this year featured 16 New England authors, including our own Rowan Jacobsen. Long lines formed as booksellers awaited a chance to talk to some of their favorite authors and get autographed books. The reception took place on the trade show floor, so booksellers were able to take a peek at publisher displays before the official opening of the show.

After the reception, Linda headed off for a bicycling adventure, and I made plans for dinner with Claire and Jane from Bear Pond Books, Barb from White Birch Books, and Hiata from Bridgeside Books. We had an absolutely delicious meal at Red Stripe, then walked next door to Books on the Square, where the staff was hosting a reception for all of the NEIBA booksellers. For most booksellers, a visit to another bookstore is irresistible, even on vacation. It’s a treat to see familiar books in a new setting, discover new books, and geekily “ooh and ahh” over things like signage and display racks.

The next day was Trade Show day, which meant dropping off orders with various sales reps, more socializing, and the inevitable gathering of many pounds of books–I can tell you that trade shows are a real work out. I would guess I walked out of there with at least fifteen pounds of books hanging from each shoulder, and that’s a relatively modest amount.

 

One bookseller organizes her book collection before going to pick up more.

 

 

The NEIBA show is pretty manageable and, in my opinion, more enjoyable than BEA (Book Expo America, the national show), which can be a sensory overload. Still, even at the smaller show, there is a lot to take in. Publishers know this and try to lure tired booksellers in with everything from lollipops to homemade cookies. Of course, they also have plenty of bookish bait, as well. Racks and stacks of books of all kinds are on every side. One of my favorite tables was Random House, where they had a “staff picks” section, just like you might find at the bookstore. Each book had a handwritten recommendation from one of the reps or publicists to let you know why you would love it. It’s a nice personal touch that helped showcase their books. I received plenty of great recommendations from reps at other publishers, too. I’m currently enjoying Cecil Castellucci’s new YA novel, Rose Sees Red, which Nikki at Scholastic raved about (Cecil was at the show to sign bookplates–it would have been books, but the shipment was waylaid–and I got to meet her and tell her how much I’ve loved her books); and I’m looking forward to reading Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (an IndieBound pick this month), and Scarlett Thomas’s Our Tragic Universe among many other intriguing titles stacked next to my night stand.

Finally, it was time to head back to Vermont with Hiata, who had generously offered to drive to and from Providence. The valets at our hotel were fairly kind in not giving us a hard time over the 15 bags (mostly books) they helped us load into the car.

For some other perspectives on NEIBA, check out Publisher’s Weekly, Shelf Talker, Shelf Awareness, and Boston Bibliophile.

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