The success of the second standalone Children’s Institute last year in San Antonio, Tex., paved the way for a third educational conference for children’s booksellers this spring in Pasadena, Calif. (The first CI was held at the 2012 BookExpo America in New York City.) If the ABA had any doubts about making CI an annual event, they were quickly dispelled when CI 3 sold out over a month in advance: 190 booksellers and more than 50 authors will attend this year’s gathering at the Pasadena Hilton, from April 19 to 21.
“ABA is very excited that such a large number of booksellers focused on children’s bookselling will be attending,” says ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “There’s a very full agenda planned for CI 3, and we are grateful to the ABC member booksellers whose input was critical to the development of the educational sessions, which are covering a range of topics, including the important issue of better ensuring that diverse titles are available to all audiences.”
Alluding to the November 2010 vote to merge the Association of Booksellers for Children into the ABA, Teicher notes that “one of the key goals was to continue to develop compelling, relevant, and useful education for children’s booksellers. We hope that this year’s Children’s Institute is doing just that.”
As a further inducement for both publishers and booksellers, this year’s institute immediately follows the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (April 18–19) at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Programming features three plenary sessions, including one that kicks off the conference with soon-to-be-bookseller Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. His presentation will be followed by a reception with executives and members of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team, cosponsored by Publishers Weekly.
Nearly a dozen breakout sessions cover bookseller concerns ranging from “Making Storytime Fun and Profitable” to “Buying and Merchandising Non-book Items.” There will be two featured talks, including one with Bookigee founder and CEO Kristen McLean, co-chair of Nielsen’s Children’s Book Summit, on the state of the industry. She will be using Nielsen’s portfolio of sales and demographic data.
In addition, five roundtables are planned on such topics as “Transitioning Readers from YA to Fiction.” A Rep Picks Speed Dating Lunch, an author reception, a Scholastic Meet & Treat After Party, and a tour of Vroman’s Bookstore (a former PW Bookstore of the Year), round out the programming. Author Jewell Parker Rhodes will give a closing keynote on why diversity in children’s literature is the next civil rights frontier.
No doubt, the success of CI 3 will help determine whether Children’s Institute becomes part of ABA’s regular conference mix. A number of booksellers are hoping that the conference, which skipped 2013, will become an annual event. Children’s specialist Faith Hochhalter at Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., was one of several who described CI 2 as “fantastic.” She says, “Working with children’s books is my heart job, and it was nice connecting with other people who are as passionate about kids’ books as I am.”