The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) has become the first regional association to add a day of consumer events to its annual meeting, which runs September 18–20 in Raleigh, N.C. “For years, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that we bring over 100 authors into a town, and nothing happens in that town,” said SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell. “Over and over it felt like an opportunity that was missed.” The events are called Triangle Reads—a reference to North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the region where Raleigh is located—and are a joint venture undertaken by SIBA and the online book club She Reads.
SIBA’s closing luncheon, the Moveable Feast, will kick off Triangle Reads. All 25 authors who are participating in consumer events—which include panel discussions on topics such as middle-grade fiction and the power of stories in memoir—will have new books available for purchase there. One of the highlights of Triangle Reads is a session with bestselling novelist Elin Hilderbrand in conversation with Anne Bogel, who writes the Modern Mrs. Darcy book blog. The day ends with a cocktail party.
The $99 admission price for the day’s events includes a $20 voucher toward books purchased at the show. “We’re extremely blessed to have this opportunity,” said She Reads cofounder Marybeth Whalen, who regards it as a win-win for both sponsoring groups. “We are saying to women who follow us: make it a book club weekend with your best girlfriend.”
Jewell said that she wants to encourage booksellers throughout the South to partner with neighboring stores and literary groups to create large-scale events. “My goal is always to create something they can do,” she added.
Five North Carolina bookstores will participate in the inaugural consumer day, posting links to Triangle Reads on their websites and selling books at the events. Jamie Fiocco, co-owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, will participate because she is curious about how many people will come to meet the authors and how many books they will buy. “With SIBA coordinating much of the organization, it’s an easy choice to get involved,” Fiocco said. “Of course, what I hope the group gains from this is not only revenue but data for other regions to use, information on what would be well-received in our area for a consumer festival, and to raise awareness of independent booksellers in the Triangle.”
Kimberly Daniels Taws, manager of the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, called the cooperation among bookstores for Triangle Reads a “great example of the unity of North Carolina’s strong independent booksellers.” She added, “We hope that readers will gain exposure to the vast resources already available at their local independent bookstore, and will continue to enjoy each store’s author programming available year round.”