This year’s Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) fall trade show, held Sep. 29 - Oct. 2 at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wash., opened with a Home Brewed Happy Hour. The event featured ten authors from the region and a selection of bitter IPA beers in celebration of Complete IPA by Joshua Bernstein, one of PNBA’s 2016 Holiday Books selections. The brews were bitter but the atmosphere was sweet as authors, booksellers and publishers mingled.

The new leadership of executive director Brian Juenemann proved to be a breath of fresh air. He celebrated his first year in the role, after the retirement of long-standing director Thom Chambliss. Larry West, bookkeeper and executive assistant, reported that PNBA’s income had a significant spike in 2015, attributing that to Juenemann’s increasing the catalog and other ad revenue.

"Brian is great; he’s got a lot of great ideas and a lot of energy," said West, who predicts 2016 will also close in the black. On assuming the role from long-time director Chambliss, Juenemann said he follows the adage, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it." He then added, though, that "within that there’s always nuances."

Friday featured wide-ranging educational programming including sessions that Kenny Coble, bookseller at Kings Books in Tacoma, Wash., said were "very responsive" to what booksellers asked for, citing the panels focused on diversity, personal finance and advanced social media.

While the opening of the show usually has a few free slots remaining, this year’s exhibition floor sold out early with 102 exhibitors, and a wait list. There was also a significant increase in the presence of publishers from British Columbia due to a grant that has allowed them to attend for the past two years.

“The Canadians love us right now,” said Juenemann. British Columbia is formally recognized as part of PNBA’s territory and, although there are, as Juenemann noted, “physical and exchange rate things that are hurdles," he believes there is "a lot of similarity in what we’re all doing and the region that we share.” Booksellers from British Columbia had 17 tables in their own island block of the trade floor. Juenemann said: “We’re hoping even when the grant runs out they’ll keep coming back.”

Even though Amazon continues its sprawl only a half hour away from the show, indie booksellers and publishers reigned supreme on the trade floor. While overall attendance numbers were not available at press time, the exhibition hall was abuzz with booksellers wobbling under the weight of their stuffed tote bags as they shuffled along the packed floor.

The show featured 110 authors this year, up from 100 last year. To that end, West said one emphasis of the show is "connecting authors with bookstores so they can help each other out.” Juenemann also noted that that the show no longer features general signing and, instead, does branded events with attending authors.

One such event, and a show highlight, was Dinner at the Kids' Table, with Jay Asher, author of What Light (Razorbill); Carson Ellis, author of the picture book Du Iz Tak? (Candlewick); Brandon Mull, who is behind the YA Fablehaven series, and was promoting his new activity book Fablehaven Book of Imagination (Shadow Mountain); and David Shannon, author of the picture book Duck on a Tractor from Scholastic/Blue Sky.

Author Lidia Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan, Harper) spoke at Saturday’s author breakfast, telling the crowd of booksellers, “I’m here because of you, literally, and I’m here for you." She went on: "The only reason I get to come up here and do this is because you had a book of mine in your hand and you passed it to one other person. So can I just thank you for giving me a life?”

Next year’s show will be held October 8-10 at the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach in Portland. Juenemann hopes PNBA members will remain "interactive" throughout the year, since "it’s not just about the trade show.”