In a new hotel facility, and with a new executive director, the Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association (MSIBA) held its fall trade show in New Orleans from September 5 - 8. By all reports, the show was a great success and an opportunity for booksellers from the far-flung corners of this large regional association (in square miles) to learn, network, and recharge their enthusiasm for the coming year.
Andy Jackson, MSIBA executive director (who replaced Joe Holmes in January), was delighted with this year's show. "Everything went extremely well," he told BTW soon after the show had ended. "The events were extremely well attended -- numbers were up from last year, both with exhibitors and bookstores. Education sessions were full
. I got a lot of great comments. The Saturday night Author Gala was a real high point. We switched to the Hyatt Regency this year, and it was a nice upgrade."
Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, told BTW, "We had a great time at Mid-South. Our association is truly a group of comrades. We really support each other because, well, quite honestly, there're not that many of us." Business was brisk, too. "We personally wrote quite a few orders and found some new publishers that the commission reps have just acquired. All in all, we left very happy," she said.
Jill Bailey, buyer for Book People in Austin, Texas, was also very pleased with the show. "My experiences at Mid-South this year were great. I love how approachable authors are at the regional shows," she said. Although she characterized the trade show as "a good size, manageable," Bailey told BTW that "there still didn't seem to be enough time. I found new books and saw old ones that needed to be reordered. I placed some orders, but not nearly enough." Bailey said that the Author Gala "was exceptional," adding, "what a treat for a bookseller. Getting to meet authors face to face is cool enough -- but you get a free book, too. It's like a dream come true."
Early on in the proceedings, educational seminars -- including the "Budgeting and Monitoring Workshop," led by ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, and "Using the Tools of ABA to Directly Benefit Your Store," given by Mark Nichols, Book Sense publisher partner manager, and Kristen Gilligan, ABA communications, industry relations, and trade policy manager -- were extremely well received and considered very helpful by participants.
Bailey was impressed by the new marketing ideas offered by Book Sense. "I finally got to meet some of the faces behind the names at Book Sense, a pleasure. [At the workshop], I learned a couple of new things to bring back to the store and work on with the folks in charge. I brought pictures of our Book Sense displays to show off and got a chance to thank [people] for all they do," she said.
Children's bookselling was the special focus of Friday's programming.
The Children's Book and Author Breakfast featured talks by Coleen Salley (Epossumondas, Harcourt) and Mawi Asgedom (Of Beetles and Angels, Little, Brown), who was filling in for Todd Parr (The Feel Good Book, Little, Brown).
Workshops presented by the Mid-South Children's Committee offered sessions on event planning and new ways to use favorite titles. The Children's Book and Author Luncheon featured Denise Flemming (Alphabet Under Construction, Henry Holt), Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spider and the Fly, S&S), and Mark Teague (Dear Mrs. LaRue, Scholastic Trade).
Children's events culminated Friday night with Dixieland jazz at the Crescent City Brewery, where many authors and illustrators had provided unique handprints for auction, and the announcement of the Humpty Dumpty Children's Choice Award to Mark Teague.
Bailey of Book People was ebullient in her praise for the programming. She told BTW that "the children's committee did a great job with the children's author breakfast and luncheon. All of the authors and illustrators there were marvelous. The appearance of Mawi Asgedom as a replacement for Todd Parr was an excellent surprise. I love Todd Parr as well, but I feel this was a unique opportunity. Of course, I cannot talk enough about the fabulous Coleen Salley! Storyteller extraordinaire! I have read her new book, Epossumondas (as best I can in her style) to all my kids' booksellers. The show had a phenomenal author selection, children's especially."
Some of the authors attending the Gala and other events included Book Sense 76 notables Cassandra King (The Sunday Wife, Hyperion), Doug Marlette (The Bridge, HarperCollins), Joe Edd Morris (Land Where My Father Died, Context), George Singleton (The Half Mammals of Dixie, Algonquin), and Daniel Woodrell (The Death of Sweet Mister, Plume).
Like most successful shows, the MSIBA gathering left the crowd eager to start planning the 2003 event, to be held in Austin, Texas. Despite the exhaustion of the past week, Jackson said he is "pumped and planning for Austin. Holding the show in Austin [in alternating years] brings in many more Texas booksellers who don't want to travel as far as New Orleans. Those numbers will offset the losses of Mississippi and Arkansas booksellers, who may not want to travel that far." Koehler in Houston and Bailey in Austin were both very enthusiastic about next year's show.
"All in all, we left very happy and are so excited about being in Austin next fall," Koehler commented. Bailey said, "I am thrilled for the show to be in Austin next year and to be on the board now to help plan it. I know it will be so incredible. We have already come up with lots of new ideas to make it better and better. I hope the publishers will be excited to come down to Austin and see our store. I also have great ambition to find all these stores hiding out and get them to join the MSIBA for next year. The show is gonna rock!" -- Nomi Schwartz