The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Discovery Show opened at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Stirling, Fla., on Thursday. The main topic of conversation, at least initially, was the impact Hurricane Florence would have on the event.
“We have had 100 room night cancellations,” said SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell, who lives and manages the organization from her home in Columbia, S.C, a city directly in the path of the storm. In all, Jewell estimated 25 booksellers, publishers and authors cancelled attending due to Hurricane Florence.
“We have lost some authors and some booksellers, but right now it looks like we have had about seven stores that opted not to send people because of the storm,” she explained. In several instances, store owner or managers opted to stay at home and mind the store, sending staff to the show instead.
Jamie Fiocoo, owner of Flyleaf Books v-p of the American Booksellers Association, chose to stay and oversee her store in Chapel Hill, N.C. She sent Amanda Ibarra, the store’s events manager, and another staff member, in her absence.
Mary Jane Reed, owner of G.J. Ford Bookshop on St. Simons Island, which is off the coast of Georgia, opted to make the trip to Florida instead of riding out the storm. "The storm seems to have shifted somewhat," she said. "Summer is a very busy season for us and to be honest, we needed a bit of a break."
And Kathy Barston, development director for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, made sure to remind the show's attending booksellers that the organization is on standby to assist colleagues affected by the storm. "We are here for them if they need us," she said, noting that the organization can assist booksellers in the first 72 hours of a crisis with immediate relief, then help with recovery after the event.
So far, only a few SIBA events have been cancelled or otherwise impacted by the storm. Shari Smith of Working Title Farm in Boone, N.C., cancelled her opening night musical event; Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of Key Kiddo (Graphix) sent in a video in lieu of his appearance at the Thursday lunch event; and a panel featuring authors published by Flatiron Books was changed to feature authors from Tor and St. Martin’s Press who were already on site.