Archive for category SIBA Trade Shows
Southern … independent booksellers … on the beach. What could be better?
Being a big fan of all three, I jumped at the chance to attend my first trade show—the 2012 get-together of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance in Naples, Florida.
If I had to pick a single word to characterize the weekend of the show, it would be warmth. You might think I’m talking about Naples’s subtropical heat and humidity (and you would be partly right), but my stronger recollection is of the warm enthusiasm of the other bibliophiles in attendance.
The crowd included book publishers, booksellers, reviewers, editors, and fellow authors and readers. Some were newcomers like me; others were old hands. I had the sense that we all shared a love of books, language, creativity, and a strong sense of place.
Among the highlights for me (I’m a little biased here) were the Saturday and Sunday beach walks. With two new beach books on the show roster, organizer Wanda Jewell had arranged for “walking book talks” with authors Carl Hobbs (The Beach Book) and yours truly (How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach). Each tour began in a shadowy mangrove swamp and ended on a breezy sand beach. (Coincidentally, my book includes an aerial photo of the SIBA convention location, including the very boardwalk and beach we traveled.)
A central theme of any beach book is change (“no one ever steps on the same beach twice”), and Clam Pass Beach obligingly proved the point for us that weekend. On Saturday the view featured brooding storm clouds and rhythmic beach cusps. On Sunday a few clouds still hovered, but the tide and surf had wiped away all cusps. The overnight rise and fall of the Gulf of Mexico had instead left the gift of a rich wrack line (drift line) full of seeds, shells, and grasses to explore. We also visited a sea turtle’s nest and chatted with the local turtle patrol.
Other SIBA highlights included many opportunities to
- Meet the friendly people behind some favorite titles (the display table of Rocky Publications and Tim Ohr looked just like my bookshelf at home)
- Connect with independent booksellers, who so vitally link authors and readers (thanks to #siba12, I’ll be participating in next year’s “Ding” Darling lecture series on Sanibel Island—can’t wait!)
- Discover new publications (I’m currently reading Air by William Bryant Logan and looking forward to forthcoming Florida goodies from National Geographic Maps)
- Be inspired by creative marketing (the University Press of Florida was giving away little boxes of cereal—can you figure out why?)
- Start drafting my holiday shopping list (there will be a definite book-vibe going on this season)
- Spend a few days in the company of like-minded community (I’m just sorry I missed Sunday’s flash mob)
After all that, could there be a downside? Well, just a couple—sort of. With so many intriguing titles on display, I came away with a severe case of book envy. My ever-growing wish list now includes many more pounds of new books.
Field and travel guides are a particular hazard. My current bugaboo is The Living Gulf Coast by Charles Sobczak, who welcomed visitors to the Indigo Press table. This book is a lush, irresistible invitation to roam Southwest Florida’s natural places. Daily now I am tempted to trade the white glow of my iMac for some fresh Florida sunshine.
Such are the perils of SIBA.
Nevertheless, I heartily encourage other authors, new and seasoned, to visit with SIBA if you can.
… which leads me to I wonder, can I finish How to Read an East Florida Beach in time for a #siba14 Daytona Beach book walk?
I’d better get back to work.
Tonya Clayton is the author of How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach: A Guide to Shadow Dunes, Ghost Forests, and Other Telltale Clues from an Ever-Changing Coast (Southern Gateways series, University of North Carolina Press, 2012). She thanks SIBA and UNC Press for providing the opportunity to participate in #siba12.
Beach Books, Bibliophiles, Book Publishers, Book Talks, Booklovers, Clam Pass, Convention Location, Cusps, Drift Line, Fellow Authors, Florida Gulf Coast, Independent Booksellers, Line Drift, Mangrove Swamp, Naples Florida, Sea Turtle, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Storm Clouds, Turtle Patrol, Wrack Line
Their reputation had preceded them. I’d heard the (SIBA) Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance put on the best conference in the country. Now I have not attended many of the others but I came away from Naples, Florida feeling so welcomed by the group that gathered there for their annual get together. I met so many nice people, all of whom expressed a genuine interest in my novel, despite the snowy cover that does not speak of the South, and the chilly story of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters within. Was it that they accepted me as a southerner myself, albeit one from Southern California whose story takes place in Southern Wisconsin?
No I think it is just their way: graciousness, openness, and sincerity in action. Kudos to the entire organization!
I’m hoping my dubious southern roots will enable me to return, and that SIBA will eventually adopt me as one of theirs.
Entire Organization, Genuine Interest, Kudos, Naples Florida, Nice People, Novel, Openness, Reputation, Sausage Maker, Shares, Sincerity, Southern California, Southern Hospitality, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Southern Roots, Southern Wisconsin, Southerner, Story Takes Place
A Debut Novelist Reflects on SIBA 2012
I arrived at SIBA 2012 in a near-comatose state, the inevitable result of cramming international travel, two full days at the arts nonprofit where I work, taping a TV show three hours’ drive from home, and travel to Naples into a five-day period. By the time I reached SIBA, I was operating on pure adrenaline—and not nearly enough caffeine.
Then I arrived, and was revitalized … not by a fancy Frappuccino, but by the intoxicating, giddy sensation of being surrounded by an abundance of fellow bibliophiles.
I’d been to SIBA before—years ago, in Atlanta—but in a much different capacity. That time, I’d been staffing a booth, representing the small publishing company where I served as editor. This time, I was there as an author, promoting my debut novel, THE MEMORY THIEF (Ballantine Books, August 2012). I felt like I’d fallen through the rabbit-hole, and woken up in Wonderland.
I know that, in these digitally dominated, penny-pinching days, attendance at traditional conferences is increasingly being supplanted by virtual participation. And if all you’re after is information, then sure, I guess that does the trick. But if you want to build relationships and get to know people, in my humble opinion there’s no substitute for looking them in the eye—or making a fool of yourself in front of them as you struggle to guide an Oreo cookie from your forehead to your mouth, without using your hands (note to self: not a future career path; thanks a lot, Writers Block Games).
But I digress. Simply put—to all the folks who claim that, in the second decade of the 21st century, in-person connections are overrated, I reply: Bah Humbug!
As proof, I offer up ten events that transpired as a direct result of my participation in SIBA 2012.
- En route to Naples, I persuaded a random woman in the Charlotte airport to download my book to her ereader. (What can I say? I am shameless.)
- At the Moveable Feast, I met fellow North Carolina author Marybeth Whalen (The Guest Book), who kindly invited me to participate in an October event at Park Road Books in Charlotte, also featuring NC author Erika Marks (The Mermaid Collector).
- Veteran author Melanie Benjamin (also published by Random House) graciously spent an hour with me in the hotel bar, sharing her writerly wisdom as she sipped a grownup drink and I gobbled fish tacos in a most undignified manner. To say I am grateful would be an understatement.
- University of Central Florida professor and book festival organizer Susan Wegmann generously invited me to participate in the 2013 UCF Book Festival.
- The lovely folks at the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association asked me to be a part of their October BIBLIOFEAST event.
- I met the enthusiastic and fabulous PR mavens of JKS Communications … who are now organizing my blog tour. I am so excited to be working with them, and who knows whether we would have found each other, were it not for SIBA?
- JKS Communications connected me with author and literary activist Jenny Milchman (whose debut novel, COVER OF SNOW, will be released by Ballantine Books in January) … and Jenny invited me to participate in her Montclair, NJ literary series, Writing Matters.
- I had the chance to shake the hands of some of the wonderful people who advocate for my novel at Random House, and thank them in person for all of their hard work.
- Ditto the many fabulous independent booksellers I had the good fortune to meet—on the trade show floor; around the tables at The Moveable Feast; while stacking red plastic cups into an improbable pyramid at the Writers Block Minute to Win It Games (see the Oreo incident, above).
- I discovered that I possessed a hitherto unrecognized talent: picking up a series of increasingly small paper bags off the floor with my teeth at the selfsame Writers Block Games, all for the sake of a raffle ticket. (Let us never speak of this again.)
From the absurd to the sublime, none of the above would have happened if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to attend SIBA 2012. To Wanda Jewell, Nicki Leone and all the rest of the SIBA crew—a heartfelt thank you.
Emily Colin is the author of THE MEMORY THIEF (Ballantine Books, 2012). She can be found skulking about on her website, www.emilycolin.com, and on various social networks as the spirit moves her.
Bibliophiles, Block Games, Career Path, Charlotte Airport, Comatose State, Debut Novel, Frappuccino, Inevitable Result, International Travel, Novelist, Oreo Cookie, Oreos, Paper Bags, Rabbit Hole, Random Woman, siba, St Century, Traditional Conferences, Virtual Participation, Writers Block
Being on the panel at the SIBA trade show in Naples, FL gave me a rare perspective on the inner workings of other authors and illustrator of children’s books. Those of us in the profession rarely meet each other since our work involves a lot of isolated time in our studios. We got to share our delights and joys and ups and downs of our magical profession with an audience of our biggest appreciators, independent bookstore owners. It is rare to have an open dialogue with people who know and believe in the work we do. For sure we should have more exchanges like this in the future. I believe creative people have a lot to share. We are by nature isolated storytellers. I think anyone who owns a bookstore is a lover of tales . Perhaps meeting more of us in the creative trenches would add new ways to get buyers excited by books. After the panel discussion, I was truly touched by how many buyers came to my book signing and wanted to know more about my new book, The Moogees Move House. I think SIBA people are passionate about creativity and books and I was deeply appreciative of their enthusiasm.
Book Signing, Bookstore Owners, Creativity, Dialogue With People, Illustrator, Independent Bookstore, Inner Workings, Leslie Mcguirk, Naples Fl, New Ways, Open Dialogue, Panel Discussion, Profession, Rare Perspective, S Books, Storytellers, trade show, Trenches, Ups, Ups And Downs
Accomplishment, Amy Hill Hearth, Babies, Business Point, Co Author, Collier County, County Women, Dreamsville, Goat, Industry Veteran, Naples, Nonfiction Books, Novelist, Novelists, One Time, Point Of View, siba, Trade Shows, Vibe, Wanda
by Lisa Pell
In this election season, with all the talk of red states and blue states, last weekend at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance conference in Naples, Florida I saw a mixing of the two in a perfect shade of – purple.
And in this blog about North meeting South, the South wins.
One of the most fascinating scenes this newbie author witnessed, one every new writer should consider trying to observe, in the flesh, not on Facebook, was a session where the New York publishing industry reps presented their wares to independent southern booksellers. Each publishing house had four minutes to showcase its line of books, and the bell tolled mightily when the time was up for major and small publishers equally. Somehow a literary Gong Show struck me as a bit of an oxymoron, but maybe my naiveté regarding the publishing industry was simply moronic.
This scene brought home for me the epic nature of the struggle not only to get a book published, but sold. And these booksellers know their business – you could see the grit and gleam in their eyes as they scribbled notes on the hot hits to buy. To have survived the ravages of the publishing industry over the past few years and continue to maintain faith in the valiant cause that is the promotion of literature has taken almost Scarlettish determination to never go hungry again.
These booksellers rocked. I had a blast chatting up folks on various excursions, in the free-for-all that was the exhibit hall, on the Sunset Deck, at the hotel bar, and in the various meeting rooms where so many talented authors and experienced marketing hands shared their considerable wisdom. But most of all, where the conference truly gelled for me was in something called The Moveable Feast. These southerners really were determined not to go hungry again. The luncheon was billed as a sort of speed dating for authors in their courtship of booksellers. As one of about two dozen authors chosen to participate, each of us had seven minutes to pitch a table of booksellers, then the voice behind the mighty microphone beckoned us to move on. I could have danced this SIBA Shuffle all afternoon – didn’t even miss the beach other than a longing glance from my hotel room window as I left, wishing I could have stayed another night. Rather, this was about a novelesque type of Beach Music, the sounds of impressions and connections being made to the rhythm of table talk. The appropriately colored haze swirling about my head as I endeavored to avoid sounding like a repetitive robot was thankfully limited to my imagination.
What a colorful mix of people I was fortunate to meet, so diverse, but with the same collective purpose – selling books.
Power to the purple!
Alliance Conference, Blue States, Courtship, Election Season, Exhibit Hall, Gleam, Grit, Hot Hits, Hotel Bar, Hues, Industry Reps, Meeting Rooms, Moveable Feast, Naples Florida, Oxymoron, Publishing House, Red States, Small Publishers, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Southerners, Sunset Deck, Talented Authors, Wares
by Steve Piacente
Waiting last Sunday to make the first of many rapid-fire pitches to a ballroom full of booksellers, I thought of how Elmer used to gaze at Bugs, smack his lips and imagine Wabbit Stew.
It seemed an appropriate image, for the premiere event at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) is called the “Moveable Feast.”
The “feast” is comprised of some two dozen authors who move from table to table every eight minutes. The goal, obviously, is to get your book added to the menu in independent bookstores throughout the South.
Any fear heading in was quickly dispelled. The sellers were engaged and personable, and asked questions that made the exercise feel more like a conversation than an interview.
And yet that’s what it was, and what it is anytime you get a stranger to sit still and listen to your pitch. Eight minutes is actually long. In my experience, if you can’t arouse interest in the time it takes the elevator to go from 1 to 12, you’re done.
The other challenge is maintaining your own energy and enthusiasm after uttering the same words over and over. It’s wise to remember that Table 23 doesn’t know you from Adam, and couldn’t care less how sharp you were two tables earlier.
In fact, Table 23 looked a little overwhelmed by the time I got there. They had already heard from several authors and really, how much literary speed dating could anyone handle in an hour?
I kept it short. My novel, I said, is built around a dark secret that will disrupt a historic election. It will take you where CSPAN is never invited, to back rooms where deals are made, futures are decided, and where the line between right and wrong is not so clear. The title, I said is Bootlicker.
I glanced from person to person, saw they were at least interested enough for me to go on. So I did, any thoughts of Wabbit Stew now long vanquished.
Have you had a similar literary speed dating experience?
Booksellers, Elevator, Fact Table, Futures, Independent Bookstores, Last Sunday, Moveable Feast, Naples, Own Energy, Person To Person, Pitches, Premiere Event, Rapid Fire, siba, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Speed Dating, Steve Piacente, Stranger, trade show, Two Tables
“What I didn’t know the first time I attended SIBA was how kind, genuine, and supportive the booksellers would be to a debut author like me. Being new to the industry, pitching the book is what we’re used to as debut authors and booksellers are looking for us to be ourselves. If authors can stay more relaxed and have conversations with booksellers, the story of your book will come out naturally. So don’t be a PITCH. Be YOU.”
- Sandra Brannan
My welcome to SIBA
I’d heard it was the best regional conference for book sellers and those related to them from publishers to authors to publicists and agents. And I was not disappointed. Never have I received such warm welcomes and sincere interest in my work and background. Every copy of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters was gone, unlike the sausages provided at one signing which were offered right after lunch to truly tepid interest. I figure SIBA members and attendees recognized another southerner when they met one, in this case one from Southern California whose current novel takes place in Southern Wisconsin. No quibbling whatsoever. Besides, plenty of northern snowbirds from Wisconsin and elsewhere pretend to be southerners for months each year. And on those rare hot and humid days, a snowy cover and chilling story might help lower everyone’s temperature a bit.
Congrats on a great organization and event,
Author of The Sausage Maker’s Daughters
Attendees, Authors Agents, Background, Book Sellers, Congrats, Great Organization, Humid Days, Lunch, Novel, Publicists, Publishers, Regional Conference, Sausage Maker, Sausages, Siba Members, Snowbirds, Southern California, Southern Wisconsin, Southerner, Southerners
The SIBA trade show was not only interesting professionally, it was a lot of fun. My favorite part was the flash mob twist on Sunday morning!
Talking with bookstore owners there, I found confirmation for my own observations, based on a busy year of doing readings for the three books I published this past year. I visited some fairly new stores, such as Union Ave (Knoxville), I Love Books (Kingsport, TN), and Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill). I visited some venerable stores in attractive new settings, such as Morris Books (Lexington, KY) and the Flying Pig (Shelburne, VT). And I visited some long-established stores, such as Malaprop’s (Asheville), Quail Ridge (Raleigh), and McIntyre’s (Pittsboro, NC). Before setting out, I had read nothing but gloom and doom in book trade publications and the national media. But on my travels I discovered that the bookstores I was visiting were not only alive, they were thriving. Many served as focal points for their communities, where book clubs and other groups met and a steady stream of writers spoke.
Although a number of stores have, of course, closed due to competition from ebooks, online retailers, and the chains, those that have survived appear to be settling into a new role and doing well at it. Recently I read that over a hundred new bookstores have opened since 2008, and that independents have been maintaining their market share. At the SIBA conference Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill) attributed this, at least partially, to the “buy locally” movement across the country that is encouraging people to funnel their money back into their own communities by supporting local independent businesses.
In sum, this confirmation from talking to folks at SIBA of what I had observed for myself on the road has really forced me to think about the gap between the lived reality of bookselling in this country, up against the relentlessly negative portrait painted by the media. I don’t know why this gap exists, only that it does – and needs to be challenged.
Many thanks to Wanda and the SIBA staff and members for such an enlightening and entertaining weekend!
—- Lisa Alther
Bookselling, Bookstore Owners, Fiocco, Flash Mob, Flying Pig, Flyleaf, Gap, Gloom And Doom, Independent Businesses, Independents, Lexington Ky, Lived Reality, Online Retailers, Pittsboro Nc, Quail, Quail Ridge, Siba Conference, Steady Stream, Three Books, Trade Publications
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