Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy attended SCIBA 2011 wearing three hats: bookseller, editor/award nominee and reporter. She successfully protected all three hats from naughty rabbits. Here is her report:
A lively and enthusiastic group of booksellers, authors, teachers and librarians gathered for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Authors Feast and Trade Show in Long Beach last Saturday to network, attend education sessions and celebrate SCIBA annual awards. Attendance was up among bookstores, including, as executive director Jennifer Bigelow said, "more of the booksellers who are putting books into readers' hands."
The power of buy local movements was emphasized by ABA CEO Oren Teicher at the session on Consumer Behavior Revealed. Teicher reminded attendees that "the notion that the independent retailer is disappearing in America is simply not the case," as he led them through the process of helping determine what services and values are sought by their "increasingly inscrutable customer." (Take that, algorithms!)
The lunch program included the succinctly funny Amy Ephron; Oliver Jeffers, who presented a slideshow biography, including a representation of his "average day" and outtakes from Stuck; periodically local author Héctor Tobar, who spoke passionately about the contributions bookstores made in his journey to writing; Luis Alberto Urrera, who impressed attendees by reciting a passage from Queen of America from memory; and Maggie Stiefvater, who shared her "Presentation Thing" of her research for The Scorpio Races (with some technical assistance from Jeffers and others), and a trailer and a recipe for her intended-to-be-fictional November Cakes.
At the sales rep picks of the list presentation, Joe Murphy of Norton was particularly eloquent, presenting highlights of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt; his "Dad/ Holiday/ Bathroom Reading" pick, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities by Matthew White; and Michael Lewis's Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, with its chapter on the economics of California.
At the Consumer Centric Solutions: How to Cultivate Profits and Incremental Sales Through E-Commerce Business Modeling session, Baker & Taylor v-p John Wittman focused on opportunities for booksellers in an environment where an astonishing 53% of book purchases are made online. Wittman cited the nimbleness of independents in responding to customers as a particular asset, stating, "I think your future is bright."
Teacher Tamsie Pierce of Rosebank Elementary enjoyed the Young Adult author "Pen Fatales" presentation, although it skewed a bit above her student demographic, especially the participants' advice to young readers at the end. She and fellow staff were delighted by the strong childrens' books and authors featured at the show, including new dystopian works by Marie Lu and Jeff Hirsch.
The lively trade show floor seemed more focused than in years past. At the Penguin Group booth, Amy Comito was handing out Hallowe'en treat bags via pitchfork--contents included "pumpkin patch" Pop Rocks and Vanity Fair postcard book postcards. Dale Zaputa of Vroman's, Pasadena, a self-confessed fan of "huge tomes," was enthusiastic about Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas, Murakami's 1Q84 and new titles from Angel City Press.
The evening concluded with a new twist on the traditional Authors Feast and Book Award Dinner--desserts were made available buffet style, while authors signed books for attendees, making for a festive, sugar-infused atmosphere. Keynote speaker Brian Selznick was introduced by Robin Preiss Glasser, who spoke of their past SCIBA encounters. Before she exited the stage, Brian presented Robin with a foil tiara--he wore a matching one that went with his silver shoes. The association gave Northern California Independent Booksellers Association executive director Hut Landon a plaque of appreciation for his leadership and efforts in establishing e-fairness. Two booksellers received Glenn Goldman scholarships, and Nicole White of the Penguin Young Readers Group won the inaugural Sales Rep of the Year Award. Andrea Vuleta of Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, LaVerne, received a bouquet and thanks for her service as SCIBA president.
The SCIBA Book Award for Children's Picture Book went to Bear with Me by Max Kornell, who commented on how his process differs from Brian Selznick's intensive one, as shown in Selznick's keynote presentation. Accepting the Children's Novel Award for The Marbury Lens, Andrew Smith wished attendees an extended "Happy Teen Read Week." Deborah Harkness, the fiction winner for A Discovery of Witches, thanked booksellers for supporting her lifelong romance with reading material. T. Jefferson Parker gave the mystery award, named in his honor, to fellow San Diego County author Don Winslow, who commented that the list of nominees would make for "a dinner I'd like to be at." On behalf of Audrey Niffenegger, Kerry Slattery of Skylight Books, Los Angeles, accepted the Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture and Photography for The Night Bookmobile. Nonfiction winner Sysan Suntree said she is delighted that the recognition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California is increasing residents' awareness of their region.