Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Calling All Emerging Leaders!

First things first: I want everyone to print out the top part of this post (down to the asterisks) and post it in your bookstore! (It might help to highlight the phrases "open bar" and "RSVP by May 21".)

THE SECOND ANNUAL BEA EMERGING LEADERS PARTY!
Who: Young Booksellers
What: BEA Emerging Leaders Party
Where: The Woods - 1533 N. La Brea Hollywood CA - 323.876.6612 phone / website: www.vintagebargroup.com
When: Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 7:00pm - 9:00pm (open bar from 7:00pm - 8:00pm)
RSVP: Space is limited, must RSVP no later than Wednesday, May 21st at www.bookexpoamerica.com/EmergingLeadersRSVP

Enjoy cocktails and mix & mingle with authors for the young and hip:

- Scott McCloud, author of Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 (HarperCollins, July)
- Cylin Busby , author of The Year We Disappeared: A Father - Daughter Memoir (Bloomsbury, August)
- Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife (Random House, September)
- Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire (HarperCollins, September)
- Tony O'Neill, author of Down and Out on Murder Mile (HarperCollins, October)
- Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu (Soft Skull, July)

TO RSVP TO THIS EVENT GO TO: www.bookexpoamerica.com/EmergingLeadersRSVP - YOU MUST RSVP BY MAY21st.

* * *

I know, every day it's something, but I got some of that special cough syrup from my doctor yesterday (does it have codeine in it? I can't remember), and I think the shot I took at 4 in the morning is still working out of my system. I'm feeling a little punch-drunk, is all I'm saying, so bear with me.

So y'all know the point of the Emerging Leaders Project, right? If not, the idea is to foster the creation and growth of the next generation of booksellers, through peer support, mentoring, and education. By providing a professional community for younger booksellers, we're creating an atmosphere where we can think of bookselling as a career, and get plugged in and connected and educated in ways that are going to make us the managers and store owners and innovators of indie bookstores of the future. The point isn't to exclude anyone who's over an arbitrary age limit -- it's to specifically provide resources for potential great booksellers who might otherwise slip through the cracks and go back to publishing, or grad school, or wherever else folks go when they can't make a living in bookselling. It's to think into the future of the independent bookstore, which is vital for anyone who cares about the life of their store and their industry and literature itself.

We've been doing that mostly through getting together and drinking so far, but that's one way of networking -- possibly the most time-honored. (There's lots more coming, though -- I'll get to that.) Turns out that one of the problems we're trying to solve is also one of the problems in getting all of us younger folks together. Lots of younger booksellers don't get the emails sent to the bookstore address -- those get sent to the owner, and sometimes deleted in the flood of daily correspondence. And young booksellers don't necessarily read industry news in Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, or Bookselling This Week -- they haven't yet learned about that, or they don't think it's relevant for them. So while we know there are tons of potential Emerging Leaders out there, we can have a hard time getting to them through the traditional email blast.

So we're open to suggestions. How do you get to the 20- and 30-something booksellers in stores who would be interested in what Emerging Leaders provides? We're thinking maybe postcards. We're thinking social networking (though these booksellers don't necessarily know each other yet either). And we're thinking you savvy Seasoned Booksellers (yes, that's the counterpart to Emerging, and it's a major compliment) gotta let them know -- by posting this invite in your store, for starters. We're hoping to find more ways to get young booksellers hooked in to the network that's forming -- we'll know more after BEA.

And that "we" I keep using is very real, and I'm so excited about it. Because for the first time, the Emerging Leaders Council includes smart, enthusiastic young booksellers from 7 of the 9 regions within the American Booksellers Association. That means there's more smarts, more perspectives, more energy behind the projects we're hoping to accomplish with Emerging Leaders. So, may I introduce my distinguished compatriots on the Council:

Mountains and Plains region: Jenn Northington, The King's English, Salt Lake City

New Atlantic region: Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, McNally Robinson, New York City, and
Susan Weis from breathe books, Baltimore

Northern California region: Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco

New England region: Megan Sullivan, Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge

Pacific Northwest region: sweet pea Flaherty, King's Books, Tacoma

Southern California region: Emily Pullen, Skylight Books, Los Angeles

Southern region: Caroline Green, Malaprop's, Asheville

I haven't yet met all of these folks in person, but I'm so proud to be in their company! Come Wednesday the 27th, we'll be meeting for a bunch of hours to lay out an action plan for the Emerging Leaders Project in the next year, expanding our very effective drinking/networking into education, a bookstore exchange program, an online forum, and other projects. We've got high hopes and lots of details to work out

And then we'll be winding down at The Woods, in the company of hopefully a hundred other fantastic young booksellers or fantastic-booksellers-in-training. (Not to mention Scott McCloud, and Curtis Sittenfeld, and the other fabulous authors who are joining us!) So I hope you'll be there, or send your favorite young bookseller. The future of the industry may just depend on who makes it to that open bar.