Strong sales heading into the holiday season have contributed to an upbeat mood at the six regional trade shows for booksellers that have been held so far this year. “The news I can continue to bring you is good,” ABA CEO Oren Teicher said at the annual meeting of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA). As he reported at several other shows, book units have been up 10.8% through September, compared to the same period in 2014, across the network of stores that report to ABA. And the number of member stores at ABA and the regional associations continues to rise. Membership at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) increased by 25 stores, 19 stores joined the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA), and MPIBA gained 10 members.
Publishers are taking notice of the improved fortunes of indie booksellers. As George Gibson, publishing director of adult trade at Bloomsbury USA, said, “More and more publishers are reallocating time here [at the regionals]. Everybody acknowledges that independent booksellers are essential, and the percentage of sales at independent bookstores have grown.”
In the case of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), good sales, a big anniversary (40 years), and the celebration of the first-ever Consumer Day in conjunction with its show contributed to one of the most energetic regionals in years. Even some potential threats to profitability—such as an increasing minimum wage, which was the topic of a closed-door discussion at the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA)—haven’t dampened the mood of most indies about the state of bookselling and the outlook for the holiday season.