This is a bookseller convention. The big topic is always going to be Amazon,” said New Republic editor Franklin Foer in a keynote titled “Internet and Technology” at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Discovery Conference, held September 19–21 in Arlington, Va. The e-tailer was also front and center in discussions at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Discovery Conference (also held September 19–21, in Norfolk, Va.); bestselling author James Patterson, who first spoke out about Amazon’s dispute with Hachette over e-book terms at BookExpo America in May, touched on the issue again during a luncheon speech at the SIBA conference. And, at the fall New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) meeting, held September 30–October 2 in Providence, R.I., booksellers pressed American Booksellers Association (ABA) CEO Oren Teicher to do more to promote indie bookstores, and many asked whether the ABA would file an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.
In contrast, the other two fall regional gatherings that took place last month—the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Fall Trade Show, held September 26–28 in Tacoma, Wa., and the Heartland Fall Forum, a joint conference of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA) and the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA), held September 30–October 2 in Minneapolis—were much more focused on helping attendees discover new books, meet authors, and discuss best practices. At a Heartland session called “Seven Habits of Successful Bookstore Owners,” Judith Kissner of Scout and Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minn., said, “Don’t let the ridiculousness of the industry [i.e., disputes with Amazon] get you down. It’s important to remain positive.”
Heartland booksellers, and indeed booksellers at all five regionals to date, seem to have followed her advice. Every show was upbeat. As Teicher commented at NEIBA, “The enthusiasm and upbeat sense we have heard for the last few days has been extraordinary, and that has been echoed across the country.”