Although the exhibit space was considerably smaller than in past years at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association trade show and Authors Feast at the Long Beach Hilton on October 22, an increase in bookseller and librarian attendance helped offset the drop in publisher support to the organization.
Executive director Jennifer Bigelow attributes the 20% jump in bookseller and school registration to the show’s move back to Long Beach, which is more centrally located between Los Angeles and San Diego, after several years running in Pasadena. “I also attribute the increase to a stellar lineup at the authors luncheon today, having Brian Selznick as our keynote at the Feast, and reducing the cost of dinner,” Bigelow said. Unlike other regional book associations, SCIBA has never had a large reserve of cash but has managed to operate in the black, according to Bigelow.
The luncheon featured Amy Ephron, Oliver Jeffers, Maggie Stiefvater, Hector Tobar, and Luis Alberto Urrea, and was nearly sold out. Ed Conklin, buyer for Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara, mentioned 1Q84, The Silver Lotus, Queen of America, Steve Jobs, and Scorpio Races as candidates for this season’s bestsellers. Conklin also spoke of the challenge of buying via digital catalogues. “The system is new, and they have a way to go,” he said. “There are good people at Edelweiss working hard on bringing the level of efficiency up to where it could be. All the booksellers’ needs are different, and the POS systems vary.” Conklin also mentioned that e-catalogues have created a “digital intermediary” between himself and the reps he works with, a phenomena he has mixed feelings about.
At the HarperCollins children’s book table rep Jennifer Sheridan was busy talking up new titles. “I’ve been doing more handselling than I expected,” she said, “and have given out a lot of galleys. The folks here really want to hear about the books, which is great.” One of them was Kris Vreeland, buyer at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, who gushed over a number of children’s titles she predicts will be biggest during the holidays. Among them are Stars, Thirteen Gifts, The Future of Us, The Emerald Atlas, The Relic Master, and Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. “I’m really optimistic about the holiday season,” said Vreeland. “Sales have picked up the last couple of weeks, and the customers and kids are excited about the new books.”
Book Soup’s Tosh Berman and Sue Patrick mentioned Julian Barnes’s Booker winner The Sense of an Ending, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, and Pacific Standard Time from Getty Publications as among the store’s potentially strongest titles for the holidays.
Before the book prizes were announced at the packed Authors Feast, a plaque of appreciation was given to Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, for his dedication to the e-fairness fight against Amazon in California. Landon was on hand to accept the plaque. The first annual SCIBA Rep of the Year Award was presented to Penguin children’s book rep Nicole White. Recipients of the Glenn Goldman Scholarship Fund were Lauren Peugh of Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Bookshop and Cheryl Ryan of Diesel Books.
The book awards were presented amid the distraction and confusion of various A/V malfunctions. The Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture, & Photography went to Audrey Niffengger’s Night Bookmobile. Bear With Me, by Max Kornell, received the children’s picture book award; best children’s novel was awarded to Andrew Smith for The Marbury Lens. The fiction prize went to Deborah Harkness for Discovery of Witches. Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, by Susan Suntree won the non-fiction prize. The T. Jefferson Parker Book Award for Mystery & Thrillers went to Don Winslow for Savages. “The word I say at awards presentations is ‘Congratulations,’” Winslow jokes. “I’m the Susan Lucci of crime-writing awards.”