As the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Discovery Show took place at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Stirling, Fla., last week, Hurricane Florence was thrashing the coast of the Carolinas, forcing booksellers from the affected areas to stay home. Still, attendance was only down 2%, with a total of 426 people attended the event. Approximately 80 bookstores were represented and 124 authors participated in the program.

Reviews of the event from attendees were generally positive. Jason Wells, marketing director for the American Psychological Association said he was "really impressed" with the show, adding that there was "more buzz than SIBAs in the past.”

Crystal Murray, senior sales specialist with Arcadia Publishing, was pleased as well. “We have opened three accounts so far and I expect there to be more.” Arcadia was promoting its new YourTown Store Match service, which it developed in partnership with the American Booksellers Association, which makes a store-specific assortment of hyper-local titles available.

At the association's town hall meeting on Friday, SIBA board president Doug Robinson, owner of Eagle Eye Book Shop in Atlanta, said the organization now has 151 members, of which 13 joined in the last year. Booksellers walked the floor at SIBA from several new stores, including the Haunted Bookshop in Mobile, Ala., Story and Song Bookstore in Fernandina Beach, Fla, and Tombolo Books, which will open in St. Petersburg, Fla., sometime next year.

Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, also addressed the SIBA town hall meeting, noting that sales were up 5.2% among ABA member stores for the first nine months of the year, compared with 2017. He added that booksellers could look forward to testing out BATCH, a new invoicing system that will collate invoices from publishers, next year. “That is something I am very much looking forward to,” said Janet Geddis, owner of the Avid Bookshop, which has two locations in Athens, Ga.

Kelly Justice, SIBA board member and owner of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., spoke to PW after Teicher's address. “Sometimes I think that with all all the good news coming out of the ABA and the constant drum beat of new store openings, people can come away with the impression that independent bookselling is somehow easy now," she said. "But it’s never easy and it’s always a hustle. That’s one of the reasons we get together like this each year--to be reminded that the work we do takes dedication...and we all have each other's back."

Next year's SIBA Discovery Show will take place in Spartanburg, S.C., September 23-25.