The mood at the 2016 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Fall Trade Show, held October 21-22 at Los Angeles’ Garland Hotel was upbeat. Attended by 300 Southern California booksellers, teachers and librarians, authors, and publishing professionals, the show gave attendees what John Evans, co-owner of Diesel Bookstores, called “a sense of solidarity.” Evans called SCIBA “a place to share the thrill and passion of culturally connecting with the imagination of another—in other words, bookselling.”

Elisa Thomas, bookseller at Cellar Door Books in Riverside, was thrilled to be seated at the Awards Breakfast next to YA author Sabaa Tahir. “We sell a lot of Sabaa’s books,” Thomas said. “SCIBA is a great opportunity to talk to authors, and get their impressions of what we do.”

“We have 117 booksellers here,” SCIBA executive director Andrea Vuleta said. “That’s what I really want to see in these shows: frontline booksellers. This is where you engage the passion, get them thrilled about the books that are coming out.”

At breakfast and lunch gatherings, awards for children’s and adult books were conferred on authors working in all genres, many of whom attributed their success to independent booksellers. “When I was becoming a writer, you booksellers were my professors,” Adult Fiction Award winner J. Ryan Stradal (Kitchens of the Great Midwest) said in his acceptance speech. “Your books were my syllabus.” “If you didn’t do what you do, we couldn’t do what we do,” agreed Nonfiction Award winner Christine Moore (Little Flower Baking).

As did many of the speakers at the show, emcee Edan Lepucki (Woman No. 17) began her publishing career at an independent bookstore. “After college, all my friends were getting their Ann Taylor suits,” she recalled. “I said, I’m going to work at Book Soup, where you don’t even have to wear a bra.”

Publishing professionals were happy to be at the show, too. Paddy Calistro of local independent press Angel City, whose Los Angeles Central Library won the Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture, and Photography, said, “Independent booksellers really pay attention to the books. ”

Ruth Liebmann, v-p of account marketing for Penguin Random House, said, “Southern California is an amazing, collaborative publishing community. You have so many fantastic stores, each one very different from the other, each reflecting the taste and vibe of where it is. There’s fantastic creative energy here. The stores do such innovative marketing and community outreach.”

There was also lots of energy in the exhibit hall. “We have a bunch of new publishers and exhibitors this year,” said an exhausted Vuleta, as the show wound down. “We had 42 exhibit tables, and 25 exhibitors. We’re going to have to find more space next year. It’s the best kind of problem to have.”