72 Hours in Pittsburgh

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Dear Booksellers,

In the dozens of conversations I’ve had with friends and family about where my work travels are taking me next, I’ve been hearing the same refrain: “Pittsburgh is awesome!” I hope you’ve been hearing the same because in just seven days, we’re going to be in it together — you, me, and... 300+ more booksellers, 70+ authors, and 20+ ABA staffers. Who wants to join me for breakfast at Pamela’s Diner, a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum, and an afternoon at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens? Oh, wait, you’re right — we have an institute to get to!



For those of you who, like me, have never been to the Steel City, I’d recommend starting with the Ci7 bookstore tours. Yes, we’ll all be eagerly awaiting those keynotes with Ann Patchett, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Alyssa Milano, but we can take a moment to get the lay of the land, can’t we? The full-day tour (9:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) will take booksellers to Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Spark Books, City of Asylum, White Whale Bookstore, and Classic Lines Bookstore, while the half-day tour (1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) will hit up Riverstone Books, The Tiny Bookstore, and Penguin Bookshop. To our lovely bookstore hosts: I hope you’re ready! It’s going to be a full house.

Back at the DoubleTree in Green Tree, our headquarters for all three days, there’s plenty more going on. Stop by the ABA Welcome Desk (9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) in the lobby to pick up your badge (it’ll be in a royal blue holder, for those of you who like to coordinate), the official Ci7 welcome bag sponsored by Baker & Taylor featuring art from Disney, and your program. And don’t forget to drop off your children’s book donation (for readers ages 5 to 8) for the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program — Pittsburgh’s young readers will appreciate it! — and grab a raffle ticket ($5 for one or $20 for an arm’s length) for a chance to win one of 10 pieces of original children’s book artwork. Proceeds go to the American Booksellers for Free Expression and Every Child a Reader, and winners will be announced on Friday at lunch.

While many of you lucky ducks will be at the daylong Events University (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) or visiting ABA’s IndieCommerce team for one-on-one meetings, I’ll be watching the first-ever Children’s Institute quidditch match (10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and trying to figure out how to snag myself one of those brooms... 

By evening, I’m expecting to see many of you roaming the hotel in costume. No, it’s not Halloween (or just another Saturday story time at your bookstore), it’s the second annual Children’s Institute Welcome Reception and Book Character Costume Party (5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Join your colleagues for drinks, merriment, and a costume contest, all of which takes place after the First-Timer Orientation & Mentor/Mentee Meet-up (4:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Tonight’s the night to get to know who your buddies are at the institute — you’re about to spend two very full (and fun, we promise!) days with them. 



7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Ask ABA desk is open early for those of you who didn’t swing by the day before, or for those of you who want to deliver morning treats to ABA’s Member Relationship Managers, Liz and Daniel. These two are the best resources for all of your questions about the institute and ABA — stop by and say hi!

Bright and early is also the time to download the Ci7 app, which is your go-to spot for the day’s program but also any last-minute changes or alerts. You can also message fellow attendees, check out speaker bios, and create your own custom schedule. Technology is fun! This is also where you can access session evaluations, and your feedback is super important to us, so please remember to fill them out.

7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
It’s no secret around here that Ann Patchett is my number-one favorite human being on Earth. Join me and your colleagues for the Ci7 Opening Keynote with the beloved author and bookstore owner (and hopefully her dog, too!). Mentees and mentors will meet at their assigned, reserved tables at 7:30 a.m. for both the Thursday and Friday breakfasts.

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
I hope your brains are ready because we are about to dish up some serious information. By that, I mean education sessions on working with Title 1 schools, small acts for financial gain, the shelf lives of series, talking productively about content issues in children’s lit, and how to have a big impact with a small footprint. This year, all education sessions fall into one of five tracks to help you plan ahead: Advanced Bookselling & Special Topics; Operations & Finances; Buying & Selling; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; and Programming & Partnerships.

9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
As always, this year’s Galley Room will be a work of art: perfectly stacked rows of books upon books as far as the eye can see, all there for the enjoyment of Ci7 attendees. The Galley Room is open on Friday, too, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Stop by the shipping desk either day to send those boxes home, but make sure to bring $5 per box for a handling fee plus pre-printed FedEx labels to speed up the process.

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Your day might be jam-packed, but there will be a few opportunities to visit ABA’s friendly business solution partners at the Consultation Station, to check in with the IndieCommerce team, or to stop by the Quiet Room for a moment of respite. And if you haven’t picked up your Heads or Tails blinkie pin, which gets you into a game at Friday’s breakfast for a chance to win $250, wander to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s (Binc) table at the Consultation Station to get one now. All proceeds go toward supporting the bookseller safety net administered by Binc — bring cash or a credit card to get in the game!

10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
There’s no time for napping, just coffee — and so much coffee. Enjoy this short break between education sessions, which offers a great opportunity to network with peers and top off the morning with another cup of joe. During the break, coffee can be found outside the ballroom and outside on the social promenade.

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Ready for round two? This block of education sessions looks at buying non-book items for the holidays, the importance of representation in store culture, charging for services, the art of reading aloud, and how to market events.

11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
You can’t call it an ABA institute without a Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunch. Make sure to stay for the full event — publisher sponsors underwrite the lunch (and, indeed, the entire event) to keep costs low for booksellers, and they really want to tell you about their books. Hardcopy lists of the titles being presented will be available on the tables and in the Ci7 app.

2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Join us for the first-ever Town Hall meeting at an ABC Children’s Institute! This is your chance to step up to the microphone to bring up your questions, concerns, ideas, or anything else you’ve been thinking about when it comes to the book business and ABA. A sign-up sheet will also be available next to the ABA Welcome Desk/Ask ABA desk for booksellers who want to get their name on the speaker list in advance, or questions/comments can be e-mailed to [email protected].

3:10 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.
The new Mix & Mingle event at Ci7 invites booksellers and sponsors to meet one-on-one to talk about any issues of concern. Each five-minute talk will pair attending staff from one bookstore with one participating publisher or distributor. Time slots with assigned sponsors will be printed on your badge. Please arrive five minutes early for your slot and come ready to chat!

5:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Reward yourself for a hard day’s work at the Ci7 Author Reception. Say hello to dozens of children’s book authors and illustrators, collect signed copies, and enjoy refreshments and hors d’oeuvres while chatting with your bookselling friends. And make sure to say hi to the 11 Indies Introduce authors whose books have been selected for the Summer/Fall season, because you’ll be hearing from them at Friday morning’s Indies Introduce Breakfast.

9:45 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Scholastic wants you to stay up late and eat too much dessert — basically, the two best parts about being an adult. Join authors Elisha Cooper (River), Tim Tingle (Doc and the Detective), Sharon Robinson (Child of the Dream), Rosiee Thor (Tarnished Are the Stars), and Maggie Stiefvater (Call Down the Hawk) and Kick off the Summer at the Scholastic After Party!



7:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
The final day of Ci7 starts off with a feature on one of the coolest programs of late: Indies Introduce, which twice a year invites booksellers to read debut works way, way in advance so that they can pick the best of the best and share them with all of you. At the Indies Introduce Breakfast, you’ll learn about booksellers’ favorite upcoming debuts and get a chance to hear from the authors themselves.

9:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Take a moment to chat with small and mid-size publishers and pick up galleys at Meet the Presses, including Baker & Taylor Publisher Services, Barefoot Books, Clavis, Flyaway Books, Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Magination Press, NorthSouth Books, Papercutz, Peachtree Publishing Company, and The Quarto Group.

9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Hope you’re ready for three blocks of education sessions today, with the first round looking at the ABACUS financial survey, expanding your brand with Instagram, programming for teens, books in translation, conducting a diversity audit, and integrating your IBID POS system with IndieCommerce.

10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
I’m so excited for what comes next: a workshop with Well-Read Black Girl book club founder Glory Edim, who will get you pumped to bring one of these book clubs to your own store (if you haven’t signed up already!). 

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
In a bit of a different format from Thursday’s lunch, today brings you a series of Rep Picks Plenary Presentations from Children’s Institute publisher sponsors. Sit anywhere you like at this lunch, folks!

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
If you haven’t gotten enough face time, Publisher Office Hours gives you one more chance to meet with the publishers who presented during today’s lunch, including Barefoot Books, blue manatee press, Boyds Mills & Kane Press, Cameron Kids, Clavis, Creston Books, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Greystone Kids, Independent Publishers Group (IPG), minedition, Papercutz, Quirk Books, Triangle Square, and Yonder.

1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
In the second education block of the day, you can learn about author event grids, categories for inventory maintenance and control, creating a space for LGBTQ+ youth, customer loyalty programs, subscription boxes, and integrating your Booklog POS system with IndieCommerce.

3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Anyone who was at Winter Institute 13 in Memphis will tell you that Afternoon Keynote speaker Elizabeth Acevedo was made for the stage. Now the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature winner and National Poetry Slam champion is back to share her words and inspiration once again with indie booksellers. Can’t wait!

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The third and final block of education sessions today is one you don’t want to miss if you want to learn about selling direct to schools, utilizing co-op, summer camps, bookselling as activism, the importance of representation in publishing, or integrating your Wordstock POS system with IndieCommerce.

5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
While we're never happy to see Children's Institute come to an end, we’re thrilled that we’ve got actress and activist Alyssa Milano for the Closing Keynote.

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
But wait! Before you go! Come together for one final time — dressed in your favorite cardigan and sneakers so I can get the perfect Instagram shot — at the special screening of the Fred Rogers documentary. Enjoy some popcorn and say hello and goodbye to your bookselling neighbors before heading home.


One last thing before I’m off to start packing: Be sure to check out Publishers Weekly’s special ABC Children’s Institute supplement, which highlights the books, authors, and events coming up at Ci7 — and it’s a lot!

See you in Pittsburgh!!

Sydney Jarrard
Content Director
American Booksellers Association


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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