For anyone worried that independent bookstores are struggling, the upbeat mood at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association show painted a reassuring and hopeful picture.

Booksellers, authors, sales reps, librarians, educators, and other publishing-related people mixed happily at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Los Angeles this weekend, which Andrea Vuleta, executive director of SCIBA called a “uniquely Californian venue. I think this hotel is a hit—very early '70s feel with a touch of glamour. Plus, it’s an Indie business, which is in line with our mission.”

Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association said the upbeat mood was thanks to the fact that stores are feeling really good. “There’s a marked sense of optimism here. People said that independent bookstores were an endangered species about to disappear—but here we are.”

Vuleta said that although attendance dipped slightly from last year, the number of booksellers had gone up. “While five storefronts closed in the last year, mostly due to leasing issues, the [organization] has gone from 44 storefront members to 61, since the 2013 trade show.”

Joy Dallanegra-Sanger of the ABA, mentioned that there was continued interest in furthering the Indies First Campaign, started in 2013. She pointed to efforts such as Daniels Handler’s Upstream, which continues the efforts of Indies First by inviting authors to partner with independent bookstores to keep signed stock of their books on hand. She also referenced Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s call to action for Small Business Saturday (November 29), leveraging their social media presence to promote Indies First.

Children’s books maintained a strong presence over the weekend, kicking off the SCIBA with the Children’s Author breakfast, moderated by author Matt Ward, featuring prominent speakers Meg Wolitzer (Belzhar, Penguin), Deborah Underwood (Here Comes Santa Cat, Dial), and Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming, Penguin/Paulsen), who all talked about their upbringing and how it influenced their work.

The SCIBA Children’s Book Awards were announced. Salina Yoon won, for her picture book, Found. Holly Goldberg Sloan took the middle-grade award with Counting By 7’s, and Catherine Linka’s, A Girl Called Fearless, won the Young Adult category.

The Adult Authors Luncheon featured Garth Stein, first-time author Rebecca Scherm, and Dennis Lehane. Scherm was full of firsts. “This is my first talk ever, about my first book, and it’s my first time in Los Angeles,” she explained. Lehane, a crowd favorite, spoke about his upbringing in Dorchester, Mass. “I came from the wrong side of the tracks" he said. "I wouldn’t be here without libraries and bookstores.”

When it came to the Adult Rep Picks, a number of titles came to the fore. Joe Murphy of W.W. Norton said Leslie Klinger’s The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft was the “single most requested book ever” and called it “ridiculously browsable.” Wade Lucas of Penguin Random House named The Book of Strange New Things; Gabe Barillas of Harper offered Us by David Nichols; and Cheri Hickam of Simon and Schuster picked National Book Award finalist All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, and Mike Slack of Macmillan continued the National Book Award nominees by offering up Lila by Marilynne Robinson.

The adults reps also picked some hot first time authors, such John Darnielle’s National Book Award nominated book, Wolf in White Van (FSG). Rep Mike Slack called the book “best debut I’ve read all year.”

The show, in some ways, opened as it closed, with booksellers reflecting on the need to capitalize on the high spirits in the marketplace. As Teicher put it: “There’s a window open right now; we should do all we can to take advantage of that window.”

Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon A Time Bookstore and president of the SCIBA board, echoed Teicher's sentiment: "Our region’s booksellers are poised to take advantage of the resurgence of indie spirit and might.”

For a closer look at children's booksellers at SCIBA, see A Festive Mood for Children's Booksellers at SCIBA.