As expected, the board of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association voted on Saturday to take a two-year break from holding its annual spring trade show. The move was prompted by the board’s earlier vote to change the organization’s mission statement to reflect a new shift in emphasis to marketing efforts.
Will Peters, PNBA president and owner of Annie Bloom’s in Portland, explained that the hiatus was needed so that the association’s small staff could use its resources to pursue other opportunities that would draw customers into the stores and sell more books. “We may hit on something that publishers can get excited about,” Peters told PW Daily. “Bookselling changes so quickly.” He said PNBA’s new mission statement gave the organization more flexibility to respond to changes in the business and come up with programs to help its members sell more books.
While people will miss the opportunity to gather with colleagues, meet authors and stumble upon titles at the spring show, the general consensus among both bookseller and publisher reps attending the show last week was that PNBA was making the right decision. “The way our business has changed, it’s great the board sees that and is willing to acknowledge that and rethink the focus,” said Holly Myers from Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and former PNBA board member. Dee Robinson from Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., said she is looking forward to seeing what the staff’s new efforts will bring.
Ironically, some of the reps at this year’s show said they took more orders than usual. “I met two new accounts,” said Tom Faherty from rep group Faherty and Associates. Kent Sturgis, publisher of Epicenter Books in Kenmore, Wash., said he trusted PNBA’s board. “If they can figure out a way that can sell more of our books, they’ll be heroes,” he said.
While the number of stores at the show, 131, was up from last year’s 108, the exhibitor space was down considerably, from 31 booths in 2006 to 14 in 2007.