First-Timer Checklist

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A Checklist for Winter Institute First-Timers and Mentees

For many first-timers — or even 15th-timers — the annual Winter Institute can be an overwhelming maze of education sessions, publisher talks, author signings, and meet and greets. Here are a few reminders and tips to help you navigate Winter Institute 15:

  • Before you go, visit the Winter Institute page on BookWeb for tips on travel, sights, and an overview of Wi15.
  • Download the Winter Institute app (coming soon!) to stay on top of last-minute schedule changes and choose to allow push notifications to get real-time alerts. The app enables users to review the event schedule and session descriptions, create personal agendas, message fellow attendees, share contact info, explore a map of the hotel, check out the list of attending authors, and fill out those ever-important session evaluations. Create an account and log in to get the most out of the app.
  • Bring business cards and/or one-sheets about your bookstore, plus a pen.
  • Wear your badge at all times during the event. Listed on the back of the badge are table assignments for the Bookseller Discussion Groups, Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunches, and Bookseller and Publisher Focus Groups.
  • Take time each night to review your plans for the next day.
  • If you have preregistered for a session, made an appointment, or have an assignment and find that you cannot keep that obligation, do your best to let the person who is waiting for you know. If all else fails, flag down an ABA staff person or e-mail
  • Plan to attend the Mentor/Mentee Meet and Greet and First-Timer Orientation on Tuesday, January 21, where booksellers can meet fellow first-timers and get the scoop on how to best navigate Winter Institute.
  • All mentees will sit with their mentors at assigned tables at the breakfast keynotes on Wednesday, January 22, and Thursday, January 23. Otherwise, there is open seating at the keynote sessions; doors open 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start.
  • Attendance at the Bookseller Discussion Groups on Wednesday, January 22, is critical; beyond the quality discussions booksellers can expect to participate in, these roundtable talks are an ideal way to meet fellow booksellers and make new friends at the start of the institute. Please be sure to join your assigned group.
  • ABA does its best to provide an interesting mix of publishers for attendees to meet with during the Rep Picks Speed Dating lunches. As a courtesy to Winter Institute’s publisher sponsors, booksellers are urged to remain for the entirety of the presentations at the Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunch, Day 1, on Wednesday, January 22, and the Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunch, Day 2, on Thursday, January 23.
  • Attendance at the Bookseller and Publisher Focus Groups, on Wednesday, January 22, is also very important; even if the companies present are not ones you normally do business with, these meetings are an essential element to opening and encouraging dialogue with publisher partners.
  • The IndieCommerce team will be available to speak with any bookseller interested in improving their store’s online presence, whether they are a participating IndieCommerce store or not. Appointments are encouraged (registration form coming soon!), but walk-ins are also welcome.
  • Session evaluations are one of the most important tools ABA has for making programming decisions. Booksellers can fill out evaluations through the Winter Institute app. Booksellers are also encouraged to complete the overall Wi15 evaluation that will be e-mailed to attendees following Winter Institute.
  • Books in the Galley Room are there for the taking, but attendees are asked to take only one copy of each; if a particular pile is getting low, please take just one to be shared among all store staff.
  • Ship your galleys from Wi15 with FedEx instead of lugging them home. Bring pre-printed FedEx shipping labels to ease your way at the PartnerShip shipping desk. FedEx is charging a $5 handling fee per box, so pack carefully! Visit to enroll. Questions? Contact PartnerShip’s Keith Korhely at 800-599-2902 x2254 or by e-mail.
  • According to Winter Institute bookseller veterans, the opportunity to meet fellow booksellers is one of the most valuable parts of the event. Don’t be shy; introduce yourself and be ready to exchange contact information. Swap business cards with everyone you meet; for easy reference and recall later, make a note on the card about what was discussed.
  • Finally: Pace yourself, wear comfortable shoes, drink lots of water, and have fun!

Have questions? E-mail


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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