72 Hours in Kansas City

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A Suggested Itinerary to Get the Most Out of Winter Institute 8

Im goin to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
They got a crazy way of lovin' there, and I
m gonna get me some
m gonna be standing on the corner, of Twelfth Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby, and a bottle of Kansas City wine...

Thank you, Lieber and Stoller, for planting that musical KC seed in my brain a long time ago. I finally am going to Kansas City, and although there won’t be any seminars on the corner of Twelfth and Vine, I’m guessing that ABA’s Eighth Winter Institute will warrant a bit of rhythm and blues all its own.

The Winter Institute continues to evolve, and this year we’re pleased to offer three brand-new opportunities: a half-day field trip to the CAMEX tradeshow to experience non-book buying in a big way; publisher/bookseller focus groups for everyone; and two fully registered Advanced Seminars, one with Daniel Pink and one with the entrepreneur mentors from nationally acclaimed Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP).

With that, a little guidance follows.

The First 24, and a Little More


10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Interested in opening your own store? Indie bookseller cheerleaders and trainers Donna Paz and Mark Kaufman are presenting a one-day workshop — How to Succeed at Retail Bookselling: Introduction to the Book Business. ABA’s Lisa Winn is the one to email for info and sign-up.

Noon: You’ve landed, parked, disembarked, and/or ground to a stop at the well-located Westin Kansas City at Crown Center. (And if you intend on taking the airport shuttle, or — horrors! — haven’t yet made travel plans, visit the Wi8 website for tips and discounts.)

Proceed directly to the ABA Welcome Desk — we’ll be open from noon until 7:30 p.m. — in the Union Hill Room and say hi. The Westin is almost finished with a total top-to-bottom renovation; the lobby is still a work in progress, but the meeting and sleeping rooms are all quite lovely.

The ABA Welcome Desk is where you’ll find your Wi8 badge and welcome bag. (Thank you again, Candlewick, for the Wi8 tote, which this year features Timothy Failure and is a real winner!) Each bag contains a beautiful, custom Wi8 journal, again courtesy of the folks at Moleskine; a Wi8 schedule; goodies from CAMEX for your Sunday field trip to the show; and other surprises. (Don’t wait to get back to the store to rifle through!)

The hotel health club, pre-Wi8 and the arrival of 500 fit booksellers.

Throw your luggage in your room and venture out to explore Kansas City, named one of America’s best downtowns by Forbes magazine, and a Top Culinary Destination in 2012 by Saveur! Speaking of food, the KC Power and Light District is hosting its own restaurant week from February 22 through March 3. But save room for drinks and hors d’ouevres at the Opening Reception at Union Station.

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Meet your colleagues in the lobby and take the link walkway over to Harvey’s, at the fully restored landmark Union Station, for the Wi8 Opening Reception. The reception is sponsored by the Kansas City based, independently owned Andrews McMeel Publishing. Let the networking begin!

9:00 p.m.: If you’re still in the mood,  Mingle by the Waterfall until midnight back at the Westin, in the Garden Terrace. Whether the city, the hotel health club, the swimming pool, or your comfy bed beckons, the time is yours. See you in the morning.

The hotel health club, pre-Wi8 and the arrival of 500 fit booksellers.


7:15 a.m.: The Ask ABA Desk opens early, so if you arrived late to KC and need your badges, don’t worry, Nathan and Kaitlin will be ready for you in the foyer outside the Roanoke Room. Ask ABA stays open until 5:30. It’s a full-service operation — come meet ABA staff, ask about your member benefits, renew your membership, and find out where the restrooms are located! Ask ABA will be open on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., and on Monday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Joining ABA staff at the Ask ABA Desk for all three Wi8 days will be representatives from Kobo, who will be answering questions about the eReading program and demonstrating eReader devices. (Kobo Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn will speak at a plenary session Saturday morning, and Sales and Biz Dev VP Mark Williams joins ABA Member Tech Director Neil Strandberg at a Kobo User Group on Saturday, and another on Monday.)

Please be gentle with us, Susan.

7:00 a.m. - 7:45 a.m.: Back by popular demand — Yoga With Susan! Susan Weis-Bohlen that is, Baltimore bookseller and early riser. Towels will be provided; meet in Washington Park 1.

Susan will be leading a 45-minute yoga class each morning of Wi8. Sunday and Monday’s classes will begin at 7:15 and will also be held in Washington Park 1.

8:00 a.m.: See you promptly for breakfast at 8:00. It’s a jam-packed, whirlwind of a day. Join everyone in the Century Ballroom as we gather for the Wi8 Opening Plenary. We’ve named the Saturday Discussion Groups (see next paragraph) for notable Kansas City jazz and R & B musicians; the table signs match up. We hope you’ll join your group at breakfast to start the day. (And if you’re in the Oran Thaddeus ‘Hot Lips’ Page Group, lucky you!)

And a nice, nice guy to boot.

Winter Institute favorite Daniel Pink is back as the opening plenary speaker. We trust you’re familiar with Dan’s new book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others (Riverhead). What a perfect topic for a room full of booksellers! So perfect in fact, that at 9:45 a.m. booksellers will break into the previously mentioned musician-named small Discussion Groups for an hour conversation about selling, moving others, being human, and why Dan Pink is so darned smart. Not to worry, your group leader will keep the talk lively and inspiring.

11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: If you’re wondering what Kobo is, other than an anagram for “book” of course, all will become clear as Kobo Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn reviews the program to date and shares plans for the future.

Noon - 2:15 p.m.: It’s time for the Indy 500 of publishing, a.k.a. the Rep Picks Lunch. You’ll be seated according to your preference for children’s or adult titles; refer to the email with your table number sent earlier this week. (We’ve got your back — the table number and other pertinent information will be attached to your Wi8 badge.)

2:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.: The education breakout sessions begin! Your choice — Events? High-end Sidelines? PR? eBooks? Self-published authors? There will be a schedule in your Welcome Bag with session descriptions and room names. For those of you with web capabilities, the Winter Institute website is also a great resource.

Oh, and did we mention FREE WIFI throughout the Westin??

4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Media training? Sidelines? Nonfiction Buying? Genre Sales? E-Commerce?

5:40 p.m. - 6:40 p.m.: Time to wind down with beer and book conversations in the Century Ballroom. With Kansas City and its history as the backdrop, Kansas City Star senior arts editor Steve Paul interviews Alex George, author of the One Institute, One Read choice, A Good American (Amy Einhorn/Putnam).

9:00 p.m. -  midnight: Enjoy your dinner and return to the hotel for more author sightings, at Scholastic’s This Is Teen After Party in Washington Park 1. This red-carpet cocktail party celebrates YA authors and features Elizabeth Eulberg (Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality); Alaya Dawn Johnson (The Summer Prince); and Paul Rudnick (Gorgeous). I’ve heard rumor of ice cream sundaes and other decadent refreshments being served. (I wouldn’t wait until midnight to show up!)

Whew! And that’s only Day One.

The Second 24, or Day 2-ish


Prepare to be inspired.

9:00 a.m.: Another breakfast, another outstanding breakfast speaker — Malcolm Gladwell! David and Goliath (Little, Brown)! Will “David and Goliath” become Mr. Gladwell’s next great, popular metaphor? You’re hearing it here first.

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.: As you travel to and fro throughout the day, plan a detour to the Garden Terrace for a sneak peek at the ABFFE Auction art. Bidding doesn’t begin until 6:00 p.m.today; plan your strategy early.

10:30 a.m.: Meet your publisher rep and focus group in the assigned room, emailed to you earlier this week. What a great chance for a useful give-and-take! Good topics to ruminate on beforehand: How to create more effective promotions to drive customers into the store? How can social media be used more effectively? What kind of publisher support materials work best for “Educator Nights?” Authorless events — what works and what doesn’t? You get the picture.

Noon to 1:00 p.m.: Sunday pivots from the usual Winter Institute schedule for a side trip to the CAMEX (Campus MarketExpo) show just cross-town at the Kansas City Convention Center. But first, have a bite of lunch while CAMEX/NACS veterans Wendy Holliday and Vicky Morris Benion offer advice to make your non-book buying easy and cost-effective.

Buses for the CAMEX trade show leave the Westin at 1:00 p.m. and loop continuously throughout the afternoon, between the hotel and the Convention Center. Don’t forget the great show special CAMEX is offering just to Wi8 booksellers: receive a $100 rebate for placing any size order from a CAMEX vendor. (Details are included in your Welcome Bag goodies.) CAMEX vendors offer those truly unique items you’ve been hunting for.

5:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: Luxuriate in browsing the Wi8 Galley Room but also know that it’s open at various hours throughout the Institute, sometimes for a fast 15 minutes so you can duck in and out. Check the sign outside of Century A for details. (The PartnerShip shipping desk is located in there also, and will be open at the same times as the Galley Room. Bring your FedEx account number with you! If haven’t yet enrolled in the ABA Discount Shipping Program, do so now and save on shipping books back to the store!)

Author all-stars autograph books for the fans.

6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: The pièce de resistance of every Winter Institute is the Author Reception, and this year is no exception: more than 65 authors and illustrators are attending, including a bunch of very familiar names. We’re especially excited about the dozen or so debut authors attending, and forgive us as we videotape interviews with them during the Reception. (Later we’ll say we knew them when.) See the author list and bios on the Wi8 website.

Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker

6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: Support the important work of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and take home a one-of-a-kind kids’ book illustration. The ABFFE Silent Auction takes place during the Author Celebration, just outside in the Ballroom hallway.

7:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.: While booksellers are living it up at Wi8, Hollywood has to settle for the Oscars. Oh well. But there are a bunch of book-based nominations this year, so enjoy a complimentary drink and popcorn at our own “The Oscars” Viewing Party in Washington Park. For the gamblers among you, we will have scorecards and pencils.

Get ye tired body to bed, as the education sessions kick into high gear on Monday.

The Final 24, or How Did It Get to Be Day Three So Quickly?


9:00 a.m.: You’ve got to eat, don’t you? We promise there will be protein, and tons of interesting book news, at the Wi8 Small & Independent Press Breakfast. This gathering is a wonderful way to hear from publishers and authors you may not be acquainted with.

10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.: The lyrically named Consultation Station is open all day, and guests vary from World Book Night’s Carl Lennertz to BookExpo America’s Steve Rosato, from Shelf Awareness folks to Jack Ellerkamp. The full list is here.

10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Choose from the 15 sessions and roundtables being offered on Monday! Enough said. Refer to the schedule in your Welcome Bag for descriptions and room names.

Take good notes and share with everyone at the store.

Noon – 2:00 p.m.: Rep Picks Lunch, part deux. These folks work hard for the indies!

5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.: The Galley Room and PartnerShip shipping desk will surely be jumping.

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.: The Closing Reception featuring Small & Independent Press Authorsis a winning cap to three days of communal inspiration. See you at Benton’s at the top of the Westin, with its fabulous views of Kansas City below.

The Winter Institute is a labor of love by ABA for some of our favorite people — independent booksellers. And we thank all of our sponsors — Ingram as lead sponsor and the many publishers who support this event — without whom we’d never have made it to crazy way of lovin’ Kansas City.

We look forward to seeing you there!

All best,

Meg Smith, for the entire Wi8 team at ABA