The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association devoted its Fall Tradeshow’s second day to the exhibition hall, a membership meeting, and interludes in celebration of authors and their latest publications. Booksellers voted Soul Jar: Thirty-One Fantastical Tales by Disabled Authors, edited by Annie Carl (Forest Avenue Press, Oct.), the PNBA BuzzBook of the year. Carl is the owner of the accessibility-focused Neverending Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash., and Soul Jar includes a foreword by Hild author Nicola Griffith.

An Authors Over Easy breakfast included presentations by memoirist Maeve DuVally (Maeve Rising: Coming Out Trans in Corporate America, Sibylline Press), who described recovery from alcohol addiction and coming out as transgender in 2019, all while working in media relations at Goldman Sachs: “I had to keep becoming Maeve every day of my life.” Other speakers included novelists with books forthcoming in 2024—Laurie Frankel, Rachel Khong, and crime writer Don Winslow—as well as Garth Stein, who joked that his The Cloven: Book Two, illustrated by Matthew Southworth (Fantagraphics/W.W. Norton), has led readers to ask, “How did the guy who wrote the dog book [The Art of Racing in the Rain] write a graphic novel about genetically modified goat people?”

After breakfast, most attendees proceeded to the exhibit hall, where, thanks to uninterrupted trade floor hours from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., booksellers didn’t miss any events while connecting with publishers’ reps and other vendors. At the entrance to the exhibit hall, PNBA invited the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon to set up a table, and ACLU community engagement director Jackie Yerby fielded questions from booksellers concerned about social justice and the freedom to read.

Judey Kalchick, program manager for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, was also on hand to support booksellers. Kalchick told PNBA members that BINC has approved and paid 206 grants this year so far (as of the end of July), and gives an average of $2,200 per grant to those in need—an increase over last year’s average grant of $1,730. She told members that monthly donations, customer “roundup at the registers,” and other contributions have resulted in “really great fundraising.”

Membership on the Rise

At the PNBA membership meeting, PNBA board president Lane Jacobson, of Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Or., told the assembly that PNBA is “at the highest level of membership since 2010.” PNBA executive director Brian Juenemann reinforced this, explaining that “PNBA membership has taken a solid upturn in 2023” as its staff has reviewed the database, followed up with stores whose memberships had lapsed, and connected with startups. As a result, PNBA stands at 157 member stores, seven more than last year.

This engagement brings “a jolt of energy as well as a responsibility” to listen to bookstores with varying priorities, Juenemann said. “Specialty, online, mobile, you name it—these folks are coming to us not just to get on a roster, but to get involved.” He called the membership “our lifeblood” and “fresh fuel” for the organization.

In addition, Fall Tradeshow attendance numbers and exhibitors are rising, with final tallies to be announced in the coming days. “We’re very close to where we were in numbers prior to the pandemic,” said Juenemann. Although PNBA ended 2022 with a slight financial deficit, the organization is optimistic about its holiday catalog—“our biggest revenue maker,” according to secretary-treasurer Melissa DeMotte of The Well~Read Moose in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The organization has also taken a new approach to PNBA Book Awards nominations. “We’re doing a fee structure for the first time ever to add a little value to the program,” Juenemann said, noting that when nominations were free, the committee received so many books that judging proved time-consuming. By “setting a threshold” with the fee requirement—PNBA member organizations pay $50 per nomination and non-members pay $75—PNBA reduced the number of submissions by around 30% and created “an income stream” that stands to reverse past years’ expenses.

A day filled with meetings and discoveries ended with a feast and a cocktail hour. During the Signature Dish, PNBA’s annual dinner event, 16 authors across a plethora of categories gamely visited tables to introduce themselves and their books. Among them were writers for young readers Anne Broyles, Joanna Ho, Vikram Madan, and Liz Rusch, and nonfiction writers Betsy Gaines Quammen, Margaret Renkl, and Elizabeth Rush. Eighteen more authors graced Sweet & Greet, which served as a "literary digestif" with cocktails and conversation, before another PNBA evening wrapped up.