To My Independent Bookselling Buds,
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS CITY, HERE WE COME! I know that for me, as well as for many of you, Winter Institute is the highlight event on the calendar of bookselling gatherings every year! What I can’t believe is that we’re about to meet for the eighth time.
Who better to start off this year’s Institute on Saturday morning than Daniel Pink— making his third appearance at this sold out event! So give it up for Dan Pink and his new hit book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. I can’t think of a better start to make us think about our businesses in a whole new way in this quickly changing environment.
And the next day’s morning plenary headliner is Malcolm Gladwell, whose forthcoming title, David and Goliath, is sure to be another bestseller at our stores. Davids of Bookselling, unite — because Malcolm Gladwell will show us how so many other “Davids” have successfully competed against the Goliaths in our world.
I really encourage all of you attending Wi8 to make sure you hit the CAMEX trade show. The ABA Board attended CAMEX last year and all of us took home new ideas for unique products and new gift lines for our stores. It really opened our eyes to the possibilities for great personalized gifts from your store for the local community! Buses will take you from the Westin to the Kansas City Convention Center on Sunday afternoon after lunch, and you’re invited to return on your own on Tuesday, once the Institute is over. ABA members that place an order of any size from an exhibiting vendor while they’re there will receive a $100 rebate per store!
This year’s Institute will include some very cool group activities. After the opening plenary by Dan Pink, we’ll be breaking into Working Groups for discussions about what his thought-provoking presentation means to our businesses. The object of these working groups is for all of us to be able to share our thoughts and insights with one another. They’ve been organized with an eye toward making sure that they represent a cross-section of ABA membership, and we hope these sessions will be an opportunity to meet new colleagues and to make new bookselling friends.
Another group activity, this time on Sunday morning, will be the Publisher Focus Group meetings between booksellers and our publisher sponsors. Each Wi8 bookseller has been assigned to a specific publisher to discuss common interests and concerns. What a great chance for a useful give-and-take!
Hearing more about what Kobo has in store for 2013 will be of interest to many of us, including those of us who are already part of the program and anyone who is contemplating signing up. Kobo’s Chief Content Officer, Michael Tamblyn, will present a Saturday plenary session on the ABA/Kobo program since its launch and will share Kobo’s vision for 2013. Kobo staff will also join ABA Member Technology Director Neil Strandberg for a session on Saturday and again on Monday that will look at what we can do to improve sales and share best practices for promoting Kobo devices and content.
On Saturday, we’ll wrap up full day of programming with a lively interview of Alex George, author of our One Institute, One Read pick, A Good American, by Steve Paul, senior writer and arts editor at the Kansas City Star. Thanks to the book’s publisher (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, an imprint of the Penguin Group), we all received a copy of this number one Indie Next List pick, and I hope you’ll come prepared to discuss it with your fellow booksellers.
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression will be strongly represented at Wi8 during what is sure to be an entertaining session that will get us all talking about an important issue. Authors Sherman Alexie and Laurie Halse Anderson will be talking with Books & Books’ Mitchell Kaplan and ABFFE President Chris Finan about banned books, censorship, and YA literature on Monday morning, following the Small Press Breakfast. In support of ABFFE, booksellers will also have a chance to buy some brilliant pieces of children’s original book art during a Silent Auction in conjunction with Sunday’s always amazing Author Reception.
The biggest problem with Wi8 is just trying to figure out what sessions to choose — the choices are incredible — but a few I’m really psyched about are Working With Self-Published Authors: Providing Services for Profit; Evaluate Your Remainder Buying; and Tracking Turns to Maximize Profitability. I encourage you to look at the full schedule to determine which of the many offerings best suit your needs.
It never fails that we come home to our stores with multiple ideas and best practices that we can put into practice immediately and make a difference for our businesses, but the Winter Institute also offers ideas for initiatives that we can work on to create longer-term goals and gains.
Other highlights I love at Winter Institute are the author receptions, seeing old friends, trading ideas and practices, and just the buzz we all create by just being together. The optimism and support is so palatable that you go home on a huge high. The problem is trying to figure out what to do first when you get back to your stores!
On Monday, in between the many educational sessions, don’t forget to stop by the Consultation Station to learn about the products and services offered by ABA’s affiliated business solution partners, POS vendors, and many others. It’s a great chance to talk face-to-face with representatives of these companies. And, of course, throughout the Winter Institute, the Galley Room will be open during posted times and will once again feature a great selection of bound books, galleys, and ARCs for the taking, courtesy of our Publisher Partners.
I would like to shout out a huge thank you to all of Wi8’s large and small Publishing Partners and give a special call out to Ingram Content Group, the Winter Institute’s lead sponsor, for their overall support — they are, and continue to be, a huge supporter of ABA education. A big thank you also goes to Kansas City’s hometown publisher, Andrews McMeel, for sponsoring the opening reception on Friday night.
I know many of you may not be able to attend Wi8 this year — but no worries — many of the best ideas that booksellers will exchange during the event will be available to our members in other ways. One way to learn about some of booksellers’ very best ideas is to attend one of the 11 ABA Spring Booksellers Forums, being held around the country between March 15 and May 8. We know distances can be significant in many parts of the country, but ABA has put great effort into hosting these meetings in different places each year in order to be accessible to as many members as possible. So, please save the date for a forum in your area.
Here’s to a great start to 2013! We hope to see you in K.C., at one of the Spring Forums, or at BookExpo America at the end of May.
Best to you all,