Nearly 300 booksellers, authors, publishers, and librarians were on hand September 27 and 28 at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association annual trade show and author feast, which broke tradition with its first two-day event rather than the customary single day affair.
Participating in the event were 29 bookstores – a record for SCIBA – and 45 exhibitors, double the amount of last year’s show on the Queen Mary, with 62 authors present in an atmosphere buzzing with enthusiasm and positive forecasts for the upcoming holiday season and beyond. The California Bookstore Day organizers launched their program at the SCIBA show with a booth run by Samantha Schoech, producer of the event that debuts on May 3, 2014 in both Northern and Southern California. “We’re hoping to take it national in 2015,” Schoech said, “depending on the response to our launch.” People crowded around her booth throughout the show to buy California Bookstore Day T-shirts and tote bags; proceeds from these sales will fund the program.
Friday’s program began with the single education seminar, “Health Care Reform and the Bookstore: How it Affects You,” moderated by Small Business Majority outreach manager Marcia Davalos, who was introduced by ABA’s Oren Teicher. Davalos took the booksellers through the basics of the bill, which goes into effect October 1, 2013 and provided a solid overview of what appears to be a complicated process. “Think of the program as having two doors you can walk through,” said Davalos. “One is the Covered California plan for individuals, and the other is the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) for businesses that employ less than fifty employees.” The latter qualifies a bookstore to purchase health insurance for its staff through the marketplace at competitive rates. For now, ObamaCare will not cover dental, vision, or long-term care. Insurance brokers are getting certified and will serve as one-stop shopping portals as private insurance companies compete for business. “I’m grateful that the ABA is helping to bring information to booksellers about health care reform,” said Clark Mason of Vroman’s, which recently implemented a wellness program for employees. “This will result in fewer insurance claims and less absenteeism for us, which will save money in the long run,” he told PW.
“There is no mandate on bookstore owners to provide insurance for their staff,” Teicher said, “but with SHOP the rates will be cheaper and health insurance might now be within reach rather than prohibitive.” The seminar was very well attended. “One of our primary jobs is to put tools in the hands of our members,” said Teicher. “ABA should be doing what they can’t get somewhere else.”
At the sold-out Author Feast that evening, Amy Comito of Penguin Random House was named SCIBA Rep of the Year. After opening remarks by NCIBA’s Hut Landon, the SCIBA book prizes were awarded. Marisa Silver won in the fiction category for Mary Coin, adult non-fiction was awarded to Christine Moore’s Little Flower: Recipes from the Café, the T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award was given to Deborah Ginsberg’s What the Heart Remembers, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip by Robert Landau won the Glenn Goldman Art, Architecture, and Photography prize; Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away took the YA award, middle-grade fiction went to Pseudonymous Bosch for Write This Book, and Jon Klassen and Lemony Snickett won for picture book with The Dark. The keynote speaker, Jeffery Deaver (The October List) talked about his long journey to becoming the bestselling author of the Lincoln Rhyme mystery series as well as several standalone thrillers.
Following the packed Children’s Author Breakfast on Saturday, which included speakers David Shannon, Brian Floca, Gris Grimly, and Richard Peck, children’s and adult rep picks were presented by several salespeople to booksellers, librarians, and teachers. Alison Reid of Diesel Books moderated the adult title picks. Joe Murphy of Norton treated the group to Joe Sacco’s The Great War: July 1, 1916, published in a panorama format which he unfolded during his presentation into its full 24-foot length. The Random House rep, Wade Lucas, pitched Red Rising, the first in a new sci-fi series by Pierce Brown. “It’s Hunger Games times 1,000!” he said. HarperCollins’ Gabe Barillas talked about Anne Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter, and PGW’s Andrea Tetrick urged the booksellers to stock up on The Last Animal, a short story collection by Abby Geni. Crowd favorite The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison was pitched by Simon & Schuster’s Sheri Hickman.
At the bookseller lunch, which was also sold out, authors Roy Choi (L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food), David Laskin (The Family), and Robert Hilburn (Johnny Cash: The Life) spoke to a riveted audience. Choi, the chef known for his Kobe barbeque and who revolutionized the food truck industry, said the road to his success was filled with self-destructive behavior and confusion. “I wasn’t prepared for fame,” he said, “but I finally found out about myself and got comfortable with my life.” In Laskin’s book the author writes about his Russian-Jewish family, part of which immigrated safely to Israel and the other falling prey to the Nazis during the Holocaust. “The pulse of history beats through the heart of every family,” he said. Hilburn, who was the pop music critic for the Los Angeles Times for decades, was at Leavenworth Prison with Johnny Cash when Cash gave his legendary performance there for the inmates. The two formed a friendship that lasted until Cash’s death, and Hilburn wrote the biography as a reaction to what he believes are the erroneous books about Cash and the hit film about the singer’s life. “John was a man of courage and enterprise,” said Hilburn.
The exhibit floor reopened after lunch, aisles crowded, energy level high. Greg Turner, the new manager of Book Soup, was hopeful about holiday sales and year-end business. “Sales have been up for the last two months,” he said. “Elton John stopped in last week and spent $2,000. The Sunset Strip is coming back. If Alison [Hill, of Vroman’s] hadn’t stepped in after Glenn Goldman died I’m sure Book Soup would be gone. We continue to both honor Glenn’s memory and update the store for the times.” While standing at his busy booth, Harper rep Gabe Barillas was happy with the turnout at the show. “Everyone’s in a good mood,” he said “and I like the new two-day format.”
For Andrea Vuleta, SCIBA’s executive director, the show was the crowning touch on her first year in the position. By all accounts her efforts were a success. “Overall, I felt we had a strong show,” she said. “Certainly everyone seemed to enjoy special sessions with speakers. Rep picks had a terrific turnout, and show setup was much more smooth this year. I learned a lot along the way, and we’ll make it an even better show next year."