Friday, October 19, 2007

NAIBA wrap-up/run-down

It seems to me that the chronicling of this past weekend's NAIBA Con in Baltimore has been done very effectively by other folks! For very good overall descriptions of the action, the vibe, and the major players (authors, publishers, and booksellers) at the Baltimore Sheraton, I recommend:

Susan L. Weis and Shannon McKenna Schmidt writing in today's Shelf Awareness. Their article "NAIBA's New Conference Format Draws Raves" does a great job of summarizing the whole show, describing some of the highlights with quotations from booksellers who were there.

Kelley Drahushuk of Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson, New York, with a piece titled "Booksellers Win Big at NAIBA Fall Conference" in Bookselling this week. I love that both pieces include as a highlight the booksellers' own "Pick of the Lists", the impromptu result of a suggestion by Carla Cohen after the sales reps' Pick of the Lists (perhaps we should officially include Bookseller Buzz next year?) And I loved reading how Kelly plans to put the ideas from the NAIBA conference into action in her own store.

Robert Gray, again in today's Shelf Awareness, with a piece called "Ain't the State of Things Cloudy Enough?" -- a quotation from HBO's Deadwood, where a character laments the arrival of the foreign new technology of the telephone. The piece is a reflection on our panel on blogs, websites, and social networking, which can seem daunting and overwhelming, but which (provided you are not a sleazy, corrupt saloon keeper) can mean great things for the potential of independent bookstores to reach their customers, and are no more impossible to fit into our schedules than the million impossible things we do already. I appreciate both Robert's compassion and his optimism -- it's great to have someone who's NOT under 40 so firmly "on our team" in looking toward the future of bookselling, and he's definitely worth listening to. I was grateful to everyone who came to the panel, asked challenging questions, and expressed their gratitude afterward. I even heard from a couple of booksellers who were so inspired they intend to start their own blogs this week -- be sure to send me the links, guys!


Since the summarizing has been done, here are a few of my own highlights:

Talking to Larry Portzline (who by the way, has a Blog of Note) about Bookstore Tourism, with all manner of inappropriate jokes and gossip in between...

Visiting breathe books (domain of the inimitable Susan Weis) and Atomic Books (where I met the amazing Rachel Whang) which alone made the trip to Baltimore worthwhile -- I hope to have pictures and bookstore visit posts soon...

Talking to some new store owners at the Emerging Leaders networking lunch, and seeing them teach each other about how to make their baby stores more viable...

"Hosting" the Moveable Feast, which really meant taking instructions from uber-competent executive secretary Eileen Dengler and fumbling through enthusiastic instructions to the assembled attendees, much like I do when I host events back at the store...

Introducing my brilliant colleague Adjua Greaves to our fellow booksellers, seeing her get as excited as I do about all this dorky book stuff, and continuing to learn from her about good design principles in book displays...

Talking to Mort Zachter, author of the much-praised memoir Dough (and a lovely human being), who got inspired himself about independent bookstores, and plugged them movingly and admirably at his event at our store on Wednesday...

As usual, talking and laughing up a storm with my fellow booksellers, especially at the Awards Dinner, where Carolyn Bennett and I got the giggles over something inexplicable and inane, and were only brought back to seriousness by the breathtaking impromptu speech of Ishmael Beah...

Late-night intense conversations in the TV-infested hotel bar, which led to exciting new professional opportunities (which I'll reveal on Monday)...

And so much more I can't remember. I hope all of you who were there had a fabulous time (and filled out those evaluation forms!) If you have thoughts on NAIBA Con you'd like to share, I'd LOVE to have you post them or email them to me. The board will be going over everything at our annual meeting the first week in November, and as we do in our bookstores, we want to keep doing more of what we do well, and fix the things we could do better. Thanks for coming -- see you all next year!