UMBA Trade Show Garners Large Crowds, Rave Reviews

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The 2002 Upper Midwest Booksellers Association (UMBA) Trade Show was held at the RiverCentre complex in St. Paul, Minnesota, from September 27-29. Susan Walker, executive director for UMBA, told Bookselling This Week that, overall, the show went very well. She was particularly excited that the new UMBA show schedule seemed to work successfully. "We felt that the new things we tried in our schedule received a good reception from attendees, "Walker said, and then added: "But it's more important what people attending the show thought, not me!"

The most significant change in this year's UMBA show was opening the Trade Show Floor for one day only, on Saturday. Last year, the trade show floor was open on both Saturday and Sunday, but had to compete with other events. This year, "we had nothing competing during exhibit hours," Walker said. "We wanted to focus everyone's attention on the exhibits." Initial response from booksellers, she said, was positive.

"The general consensus [from booksellers] was that the show went great," said attendee Jill Johnson, owner of Beagle Books in Park Rapids, Minnesota. "It was just an excellent show in every way."

Turnout for the show was extremely strong. The estimate for total attendance was over 1,250, with close to 150 bookstores represented, up from 109 last year. "That's a significant increase," Walker noted. Among those present were 626 booksellers, up from the 545 booksellers who attended last year's show.

Walker said that the attendance increase could be attributed partially to new UMBA members. "The new members consist of new bookstores, and existing bookstores that are new UMBA members -- ones that just decided to join," she explained. "I was gratified that well-established bookstores and brand new stores decided to come. There was a pretty substantial influx of new members [joining UMBA] this year -- I'm pretty pleased with that."

In addition to the bookstores, there were 132 companies exhibiting, representing over 500 publishers, Walker reported. "That was pretty steady from last year," she said. "But given the consolidation of the industry, it means we're coping well and even adding." Top that off with approximately 200 authors, along with the many non-exhibiting publishers and media who attended, and the result made for a hustling, bustling trade show.

Also new was UMBA's "Authors Lunch: A Moveable Feast," which was held from noon - 1:30 p.m. on Sunday and which featured keynote speaker Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River (Grove Atlantic) and winner of this year's Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Fiction. Prior to Enger's speech, attendees were able to spend time with more than 20 guest authors, who moved in pairs from table to table.

"I especially enjoyed the Moveable Feast," said Beagle Books' Johnson. "I was able to get some authors to agree to do signings at my store."

The UMBA Trade Show kicked off on Friday, September 27, with the "13th Annual UMBA Booksellers School Seminars and Educational Panels and Presentations," at the Touchstone Energy Place at RiverCentre. Friday's Booksellers School featured an orientation, two seminars, and five free educational panels.

From noon to 1:00 p.m., Suzy Turcotte, owner of Rainy Days in Nisswa, Minnesota, hosted the "First-Timer's Orientation," which offered those new to bookselling an introduction to the weekend's trade show. "I kept running into attendees during the show," Turcotte said. "They were telling me how it was going, and how helpful [the orientation] was."

Overall, Friday's education panels were "very helpful," said Johnson, who attended sessions all day. She made special mention of the seminar "Off-Site Sales & Book Fairs -- You Can Compete Successfully for Your Community's Business," which discussed ways that booksellers can make maximum use of a store's community connections and bookselling strengths to develop successful competitive alternatives. She said she's already putting some ideas from the session into practice.

Additionally, Johnson said she learned a great deal from the 45-minute educational panel, "Co-op Advertising -- Making It Work for Your Store," which discussed how to handle co-op more productively.

Other seminars on Friday included, "Seminar I. Visual Merchandising That Works!"; "Seminar II. In Sync -- Building & Sustaining Your Dream Team"; the panel "Effective Publisher's Rep/Commission Rep & Bookseller Relationships"; "Reading Groups and Book Clubs -- Tried-and-True Favorites & Fresh Ideas"; and "Successful Author Events -- Perfecting Your Pitch, or the Art of Obtaining the Authors You Want."

Capping off a busy Friday was the "UMBA Trade Show Welcome Reception," hosted by Ingram Book Company and the Minnesota Humanities Commission/Minnesota Center for the Book. The reception was held at the Minnesota Humanities Commission Conference Center near the shores of Lake Phalen in St. Paul.

"This was the first time that we included author readings at the reception," Walker said. "It gave everyone an opportunity to hear authors read from their books or talk about their books."

Saturday, September 28, began with the "11th Annual UMBA Book & Author Breakfast -- Celebrating Midwest Authors," which featured Jerry Apps (Stormy, Humor from the Country, and When Chores Were Done, The Guest Cottage/Amherst Press); Larry Millett (The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance, Viking and Penguin); Michael Perry (Population 485, HarperCollins); and Susan Power (Roofwalker, Milkweed).

Following the breakfast was UMBA's 2002 General Membership Meeting, which included an introduction to UMBA directors; an overview of 2001 - 2002 activities, projects, and issues; and a look ahead at UMBA's plans for 2002 - 2003. ABA COO Oren Teicher also reported to members about new ABA projects and initiatives, including Book Sense and the new ABACUS study.

Later that evening, Partners Book Distributing, Inc. hosted a cocktail reception at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at RiverCentre.

Afterwards, the "UMBA Trade Show Book & Author Dinner," was held at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel in St. Paul from 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. The dinner featured Terry Brooks (The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Morgawr, Ballantine); Bruce Feiler (Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, William Morrow); Von Hardesty (Lindbergh: Flight's Enigmatic Hero, Harcourt); Christina Schwarz (All Is Vanity, Doubleday); and John Taliaferro (Great White Fathers, PublicAffairs).

On Sunday, September 29, the day started off with UMBA's "16th Annual Children's Book and Author Breakfast," held in a packed Roy Wilkins Ballroom. This year's breakfast featured Hilary Knight (Eloise Takes a Bawth, S&S); Reeve Lindbergh (On Morning Wings, Candlewick); Linda Sue Park (When My Name Was Keoko and A Single Shard, Clarion); David Shannon (David Gets in Trouble and No! David, Scholastic); and Paul Zelinsky (Knick-Knack Paddywack and The Wheels on the Bus, Dutton).

"Paul Zelinsky was fascinating," Turcotte said. "He had x-rays on how pop-ups work -- I always wondered how those things worked!"

Following Sunday's breakfast, there were two free, ABA educational sessions: "Succession Planning," which was moderated by ABA's Teicher, who was joined by panelists Donna Henrich of The Bookseller in Cherokee, Iowa, and Harriet Christie of Northwards Bookstore in Ashland, Wisconsin. The session addressed a number of key issues regarding valuing and selling businesses. Teicher also moderated "What's New with Book Sense," which offered attendees the latest major news about Book Sense developments, from news of book promotions to new 76 plans, regional bestseller list updates, and the extended free trial for

Also on Sunday was "Seminar III. What a Great Bookstore! Setting the Pace Through Creativity & Innovation" and "Selling Sidelines -- Creating the Mix That Makes Your Store Special." -- David Grogan