“You are my people, and I love you,” exclaimed Jon Scieszka, emcee of the Children’s Awards Breakfast at the 2016 SCIBA Fall Trade Show, as he welcomed the booksellers, authors, and sales reps to the early morning event. The ensuing laughter set the tone for the session and the show. Held October 21–22 at the Garland Hotel in North Hollywood, Calif., the gathering was attended by 308 members of the Southern California bookselling community: 117 booksellers, 34 teachers and librarians, 65 authors, and 92 publishing professionals.

That love was reflected in the comments—and in some cases, the grateful tears—of the authors who addressed the breakfast. Author David Shannon thanked independent booksellers for making it possible for him to publish a sequel to his Duck on a Bike—12 years after the last installment. “You guys keep backlists alive.”

“You have superpowers,” a tearful Towers Falling author Jewell Parker Rhodes told the booksellers. “One book at a time, you are changing the world.”

“As a lonely child, I turned to books,” said YA novelist Sabaa Tahir, who grew up in the only South Asian family in her small California town. “Books didn’t yell at me to go back to where I came from. The booksellers in my town knew I didn’t have money to buy books. They let me sit in their store and read. I’m here because of you. You make it possible for me to live my dream.”

Accepting the Middle Grade Book Award, The Toymaker’s Apprentice author Sherri L. Smith wept, too. “No matter where I go, the bookstore is my home. Booksellers have supported me my whole life.”

Jessica Palacios, bookseller at Once Upon a Time in Montrose (and daughter of store owner Maureen), was attending her first SCIBA at age 22. “I’ve been hand-selling The Toymaker’s Apprentice,” Jessica said. “I’m so happy Sherri Smith got the award. I can tell my customers about that.”

Another young bookseller, Elisa Thomas of Cellar Door Books in Riverside, was looking ahead to holiday sales. “At Christmas I stick to backlist a lot. We sell a lot of An Ember in the Ashes, too.” She smiled across the breakfast table at Tahir. “I’m so excited to be sitting next to the author!”

Penguin children’s sales rep Nicole White said she never misses the SCIBA. “I look forward to this event all year,” she said. “This is such a great group of people. I love being with them.”

Scieszka called the gathering “a concentrated collection of the best booksellers,” signing books as fast as he could scribble his name. “They make the effort to come here at 8 o’clock in the morning. Some of them have to shut down their bookstores but they do it, because they know how important it is. If these people didn’t do what they do, I couldn’t do what I do. That’s why I love them so much.”

SCIBA executive director Andrea Vuleta expressed optimism about the organization’s future. “We have about the same number of authors as last year,” said. “And a few more publishers, which is nice, and so many exhibitors that we’re going to have to find a bigger space for next year. For all the worry about e-readers and Amazon and everything else, independent bookstores are still with us. And we’re not going anywhere.”