The California Independent Booksellers Alliance commenced its Fall Fest on September 27 in South San Francisco, a centrally located site that hosted booksellers prior to the merger between the Northern and Southern California Independent Bookseller Associations. According to CALIBA coexecutive director Ann Seaton, 230 booksellers preregistered for 2023’s gathering—about 100 more preregistrants than 2022’s meeting in Sacramento. (Numbers for day-of-show registrants were still being tallied at press time.)

“It’s been a year to finally get back,” exclaimed CALIBA board president Melinda Powers (Bookshop Santa Cruz) at the membership meeting. CALIBA treasurer Mimi Hannan (La Playa Books, Point Loma, Calif.) proclaimed the organization “financially healthy” and noted that the board had “voted to create a rainy-day fund” in case of leaner times. “We’re keeping a close eye on our budget and especially creating programs that are most helpful to our bookstore members and our vendors,” Hannan said.

Linda McLoughlin Figel, owner of Pages: A Bookstore (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), noted that with attendance up and CALIBA back in South San Francisco, the gathering brought together represented the full merger of the Northern and Southern California IBAs.

CALIBA’s next Fall Fest will take place Sept. 17–18 in Pasadena.

Education and Exhibits

On the first of two days at CALIBA, booksellers got tips for using Edelweiss analytics and participated in roundtables on handselling and building better book clubs. They learned about Ingram’s integration of the Geek+ warehouse automation system in LaVergne, Tenn., the move of its print-on-demand facility from Allentown to Chambersburg, Pa., and updates to its ipage system. “LaVergne is going to be in a state of flux for eight to ten months” while the autonomous system is installed, and Ingram is working to “take some volume away from LaVergne” by warehousing books at Fort Wayne, Ind., said Ingram director of sales Ron Smithson.

More than 40 exhibitors were on hand to meet booksellers. CALIBA’s exhibit hall opened in the afternoon, giving everyone a chance to browse ARCs and finished copies and to catch up with vendors, authors, and friends.

Nathan Halter, program manager at Batch for Books, reported that more bookstores have signed on with the Batch payment and data administration system. The system has grown from about 100 users in May 2022 to approximately 250 currently.

Audiobook company has been expanding its reach too. Publicity director Albee Romero said now has members in 65 countries and bookstore affiliates in 50 countries, and is running promotions in conjunction with independent bookshop days in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

At’s table, senior partnerships manager Sarah High and partnerships assistant Justin Walls were slinging print copies of Lydia Davis’s Our Strangers (out Oct. 3), the first and so far only book published by the etail service. Preorders have been strong enough that Bookshop has ordered a second printing. Meanwhile, work continues apace on Bookshop’s planned ebook app. According to High, the company is in the process of hiring to build the ebook platform right now and aiming for a March release.

Publishers and distributors had a wealth of fall picks to share. IPG is banking on two books from Chicago Review Press—The Final Witness, by former John F. Kennedy secret service agent Paul Landis (Chicago Review Press, Oct.), and Jack Ruby, by Danny Fingeroth (Nov.)—timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of JFK’s assassination this year. They also want to raise the profile of Don’t Let Them Bury My Story, cowritten by Viola Ford Fletcher and her grandson Ike Howard and published by Mocha Media; Fletcher, who is 109, is the oldest living survivor of the murderous 1921 event known as the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Blackstone Publishing, known for high-octane thrillers, detective fiction, and sci-fi, is touting an idiosyncratic forthcoming title as well: Robert Downey Jr. and Thomas Kostigen’s Cool Food: Erasing Your Carbon Footprint One Bite at a Time (Jan. 2024). If Iron Man fans didn’t know that Downey believes in environmentally sustainable eating habits and has the recipes to prove it, they will now.