At a time when nonbook items have become a significant part of many stores’ sales, BookExpo is upping its commitment to sidelines by setting up a separate exhibit hall for book-related sideline vendors under the UnBound umbrella. Choosing as its tagline “a collection of bookish goods,” UnBound will offer an alternative gift show for time-pressed booksellers who can’t typically attend both a gift show and BookExpo. Admission to UnBound is included as part of BookExpo.
Led by a stationery industry veteran, Patti Stracher-Lee, who was named events director of Reed Exhibitions last fall, UnBound will showcase close to 100 vendors in 25 categories this year (see p. 44) for a list of attending vendors). Each of the vendors has been vetted carefully. “We want stores to be delighted,” says Stracher-Lee.
To distinguish UnBound from other sidelines shows for booksellers, Stracher-Lee says she plans to highlight “new resources that are hard to find, but have the business structure that can deliver.” Instead of vendors whose toys and other products have become ubiquitous, UnBound will feature the creative play brand Eco-Kids. There will be baby milestone books and other products from Lucy Darling, which specializes in keepsakes; and pencils from Blackwing, whose Blackwing 602 pencil was favored by writers like John Steinbeck and Stephen Sondheim. North Ave Candles is exhibiting its literary candles; Australia’s Sock It Up its novelty socks; and GeoCentral, crystals and rocks.
For Stephanie Larason, brand and marketing director of Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Mass., UnBound offers an opportunity to reach more independent booksellers, which have proved to be a good fit for its stone-ground chocolate. Taza’s products are already available at some bookstores, including Harvard Book Store in Cambridge and Trident Booksellers in Boston. Indie bookstores outside New England have begun stocking the chocolate, too. “What we’ve been finding,” she says, “is that there’s a lot of word of mouth in the independent bookselling community. My instinct is that the consumer who shops [at independent bookstores] is looking for something different, something unique.” That’s what Taza prides itself on offering.
In conjunction with the exhibits, UnBound is offering presentations about sidelines on the Choice Stage. Lisa Uhrik, president of Franklin Fixtures, which creates display shelving and fixtures for bookstores, will talk on visual merchandising basics and on the design practices of successful stores. A panel with booksellers will focus on developing sidelines, while another presentation will highlight product trends.
But even with all the attention that BookExpo is giving to sidelines and UnBound, Stracher-Lee says she is only getting started. “UnBound is a launch,” she notes. “It has a future, and we’re investing in it.”
UnBound Is Here!
Take a look at who’s selling what—and where to find them
2020 VISION USA
2020 Vision USA supplies eco-friendly reading glasses and sunglasses to independent bookstores worldwide. This is a socially conscious brand that aims to promote positive change in the world with a policy of giving back.
A purveyor of gift and decor items—including journals, garlands, mini notebooks, jewelry, and more—Attic Journals is committed to sustainability, offsetting the book-discard pipeline by upcycling as much as possible of what the company calls “long forgotten books” in its line of products.
For more than 38 years, Avanti Press in Detroit purports to “entertain the world with its “feel good funny” greeting cards. Avanti means “move forward,” and the company is dedicated to constant innovation in both content and product quality.
Since the 1930s, this company has made pencils, notebooks, and tools for creative-minded people. The Blackwing 602 pencil was favored by such writers as John Steinbeck and Stephen Sondheim. A portion of every Blackwing sale benefits music and arts education through the Blackwing Foundation.
Book Art Bookmarks
Since it launched in January 2018, the Wisconsin-based company has sold more than 4,000 bookmarks.
Booths 2839, 2938
A woman-owned business, Calypso publishes and distributes contemporary greeting cards and related gift products that are sold through specialist retailers in the U.S. and Canada.
Chalk of the Town
Chalk of the Town sells T-shirt kits that allow youngsters’ imagination to run free as they create their own one-of-a-kind designs for shirts that are reusable and machine washable. Chalkboard Tote Bag Kits for both kids and adults are also available.
Chick Lit Designs
Subscribers receive a monthly book subscription box that focuses on bringing the “book to life.” Boxes include a newly released novel along with individually wrapped gifts with page numbers, meant to be opened when the reader reaches the given page.
Clear Solutions Inc.
Clear Solutions specializes in creative retail display design.
The Colorful Geek
Booths 2438, 2339
This company sells what it describes as “bookish and geek chic” clothing and accessories.
Dionis Natural Goat Milk Skincare
Founded in 1982 on a goat farm in Virginia and later moved to Bucks County, Pa., Dionis offers products that are dermatologist tested and free of parabens, gluten, and sulfates.
As its name hints, this company sells jewelry and pins inspired by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which aim to make a difference in issues customers care about.
Exaclair is a purveyor of French- and American-made notebooks, journals, notepads, gifts, stationery, ink, planners, sketchbooks, and more.
Fairhope creates posters, cards, field guides, and gift wrap whose illustrations explore 3.8 billion years of natural history and the evolution of life’s biodiversity by combining new peer-reviewed science research with antique artwork and watercolors.
FiGPiN makes collectible pins that are officially licensed with popular brands worldwide.
Since 1974, Franklin Fixtures has manufactured display products for bookstores and libraries.
Founded in 1991 near Calais in northern France by three brothers, Gigamic develops, publishes, and distributes games designed for people of all ages. Its signature games offer fast play time.
Grey Moggie Press
The letterpress greeting cards from Grey Moggie, printed in Washington, D.C., are “inspired by good books, changing seasons, and walks in the city,” the company says.
Hibernacula describes itself as “a museum boutique, celebrating the
scientific, the sacred, and the sublime, designed to educate and inspire.” It sells historical talismans, sacred symbols, natural treasures, and artifacts inspired by myth and folklore.
House of Darkly
This company sells artist-made plush products that feature original designs of food and fantastical creatures.
Iron Curtain Press
Iron Curtain Press makes tools for productivity and creativity with notebooks that strike a balance between being functional and aesthetically pleasing.
J.A. Wilson’s imports journals, stationery products, greeting cards, postcards, and gift items from around the world, as well as collectible books from the U.K.
JPT America Inc.
Established a decade ago, this company is dedicated to delivering fine Japanese stationery.
A family-owned business founded more than 40 years ago, Kalan supplies gift, novelty, and specialty items to retailers across the United States. Bear Wear is the newest addition to its keychain line.
Lamy Writing Instruments
Based in Germany, this 50-year-old company designs and manufactures high-end writing products, including limited editions of this year’s Lamy AL-Star Special Edition bronze fountain pen.
The Lavender Whim
Featuring the work of illustrator Jill-Ann Mark, the Lavender Whim offers greeting cards, art prints, stationery, and gift items.
Little Poland Gallery
This company sells handmade wooden toys made in Europe.
Looney Labs makes card games in three main categories: pop culture, party/family, and education, including Fluxx, Loonacy, and Nanof.
Melissa & Doug
From classic wooden toys to creative crafts, pretend play, and books, Melissa & Doug’s mission is to create products that inspire exploration and enrich children’s lives.
The Music Gifts Company
This Florida company sells a wide range of music-themed items, including books for both children and adults.
My Audio Life
This company’s tiny animal-shaped Bluetooth speakers that sport patented designs have been recommended by Oprah Winfrey, USA Today, Good Morning America, and the Today show, among others.
North Ave Candles
North Ave makes candles for literature lovers.
Oooh Yeah! Socks/Sock It Up
Using combed cotton, Oooh Yeah! creates popular designs that represent every lifestyle.
Ox Eye Media
Ox Eye media sells board games, books, and gaming accessories.
This company combines bold designs and high quality materials to create fashion and novelty socks for men and women.
Patent Press Greeting Cards
This greeting card line features original artwork from applications to the U.S. Patent Office.
Pebble, a U.K. company, is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization; its children’s toys are sustainably made by artisans in rural Bangladesh.
Pretty Alright Goods
According to this purveyor of stationery, greeting cards, and gifts, Pretty Alright’s products are handmade in the U.S. “by people with an appreciation for clean design and a keen sense of humor.”
Product 101 is a source for customized products for in-store, online, or marketing use, including bags, apparel, pens, journals, candles, stickers, banners, drinkware, hats, magnets, and napkins.
The Retrospect Group
A publisher and distributor, the Retrospect Group offers fine art and images in calendars, cards, boxed note card sets, tote bags, mugs, magnets, and custom pieces that all use environmentally friendly materials.
Silk Road Bazaar
The felt products of this company are made by women artisans who work in the remote regions of Kyrgyzstan. Each purchase supports women.
Simpson & Vail
Simpson & Vail offers the Literary Tea Line, a collection of 15 blends that were inspired by authors’ works and lives.
Sindri Solutions and Foam Brain Games
This company produces custom pins, key chains, gift coins, and more.
Storymatics are boxed collections of cards that can create endless stories for kids, adults, writers, teachers, parents, and artists
This company supplies whimsical gifts and collections from home decor to stationery.
Tea and Absinthe
Tea and Absinthe offers what it calls “nerd-themed” loose leaf tea blends, as well as tea ware, barware, absinthe accessories, books, and “sundry geeky paraphernalia.”
Topato offers exclusive merchandise made in partnership with writers and artists of all kinds.
Travelflips are language cards in an authentic case or a vintage leather pouch, available in many languages.
Up with Paper/ UWP Luxe
In business for more than 40 years, Up with Paper and UWP Luxe’s innovative, three-dimensional greeting cards feature intricate designs, trendy artwork, and unexpected pop-ups.
Wacky Links DIY creative kits are “powered by a child’s imagination,” the company says. Kits contain colorful tubes and links shaped like unicorns and dinosaurs that allow kids to build anything, from necklaces to backpack decorations.
Waverley West is the exclusive U.S. representative for Waverley Scotland’s designer- quality notebooks and journals, which are bound in one of 48 genuine tartan patterns in cloth woven by mills in the U.K.
Wick and Fable
This company is a purveyor of soy candles inspired by books and different fandoms.