As the novel coronavirus pandemic pushes further into the U.S. heartland, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association are both working hard to keep the booksellers in their far-flung regions connected.
GLIBA initially switched its spring forum from a physical meeting to a virtual gathering scheduled to take place all day on April 16 via a Zoom video conference call. On Monday, the organization announced that it was instead going to hold video chats every Wednesday for the next six weeks or more featuring a different author each session who was originally booked to appear at GLIBA’s spring forum. The first such video conference will take place on April 22, from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. central time and will feature Kathleen Rooney presenting her novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (Penguin, Aug.), based on a true story about a World War I messenger pigeon.
“Time is a priority, and to accommodate we are spreading Spring Forum out over weeks for you to participate in at your convenience,” GLIBA's executive director, Larry Law informed membership in the organization's latest newsletter. “All author presentations will be sent to our members, shared on social media, and permanently hosted on gliba.org. We hope that this more open virtual forum allows you to attend a chat when you can and hear about anticipated upcoming authors at your convenience.”
Indie booksellers from other regional organizations are invited to join in the Zoom video conferences, since most spring forum meetings this year were canceled.
As for MIBA, as of press time, it still intends to hold its spring forum in Bayfield, Wisc. on June 1-2. In the meantime the organization is hosting weekly Zoom conference calls on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. central time beginning on April 15.
According to an announcement posted on MIBA's website Monday, each Zoom video conference call will spotlight a member bookseller who will present the new business model that store has implemented during this pandemic. The presentations will highlight both ideas that worked and those that didn't.
“We'll share stories of success and struggle from bookstores of all kinds, hoping to capture a supportive spirit of camaraderie as we all figure this out together," wrote MIBA executive director Carrie Obry, "This happy hour is intended to be interactive, so come with your ideas and questions,"
This Wednesday’s featured bookseller, Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan. will discuss “creative forms of bookselling, from being a book benefactor to installing a delivery sign on his car” to maintain sales and a presence in his college town community. Next week’s bookseller will be Kristen Sandstrom of Apostle Islands Booksellers, in Bayfield, Wisc. Sandstrom will talk about prevailing during this pandemic in a town with a population that expands and contracts with the seasons, and is highly dependent on tourist traffic.
As with GLIBA, MIBA is inviting indie booksellers from any region to join in on these Zoom video conferences.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the author presentation kicking off GLIBA's virtual spring forum on April 22. It has been corrected.