Two regional independent booksellers associations are joining forces to host a virtual conference and trade show this fall. In lieu of in-person gatherings, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) will host the combined virtual conference online from September 21-25.

“By combining conferences, we can draw on the collective wisdom of NAIBA and SIBA booksellers and cross-pollinate best practices,” SIBA executive director Linda-Marie Barrett said. With booksellers facing unprecedented challenges from the new coronavirus, Barrett said, that collaboration is urgently needed.

The conference is themed “New Voices, New Rooms,” a reference to Truman Capote, who had ties to the regions SIBA and NAIBA cover. Barrett and NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler are soliciting ideas from members for different kinds of breakout sessions. With the opportunity to have booksellers attend who previously were unable to do so, Dengler believes the event will be able to offer programming that in-person conferences might not be able to.

“The constraints to in-person meetings—money and scheduling—won't exist,” Dengler said. “We are building a schedule that runs morning through night to allow booksellers to participate in live programming regardless of their work and home schedule, early-bird or night-owl. We will host virtual retreats, so every level of experience will have a place to talk, learn, and network. We can have more roundtables, since we'll have more time to host them. We expect all our bookstores to sign up each and every bookseller on staff so they can pick and choose from the wide variety of programs we have planned.”

SIBA and NAIBA are not the only conferences going digital. The Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association announced on Wednesday that the organization’s fall conference will now be held online, as will other regional associations, including the New England Independent Booksellers Association. The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association will announce the organization's fall plans in the coming weeks. The Pacific Northwest Independent Booksellers Association is currently reviewing planning options.