The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association announced Thursday on the dedicated Heartland Fall Forum website that this year’s joint trade show cohosted by the two associations has been canceled. Heartland, which has begun moving about the Midwest each year with each organization taking turns as primary host, was scheduled to take place in St. Louis on October 14-16. Instead, Heartland will take place in St. Louis, at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, on October 20-22, 2021.
“Like everyone in the publishing industry,” a statement posted on the website explained, “We’ve been having ongoing conversations about how to support the bookselling industry during the time of coronavirus. We’ve been thrown a huge plot twist and we’re all writing the next chapters together. For everyone’s safety, we’ve decided to postpone this year’s Heartland Fall Forum until 2021.”
To make up for the cancellation of the in-person fair, the two organizations have created "Heartland Summer," a variety of virtual events from July through September that will range from rep pick sessions, to educational panels, to author events. An exhibits page on the Heartland website will allow publishers and other companies to post show specials, creative assets, and other “necessary forms of connection.”
In October, the two organizations also will co-host a virtual celebration for the Heartland Booksellers Awards, a merging of the two organizations’ separate award programs into one. Other events may be planned as well.
Most of the other regionals have already announced that their annual trade shows will go virtual in 2020; most recently, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association announced on Wednesday that its trade show will take place "in cyberspace" rather than in Denver, October 8-10. The only regional still scheduled to be held in real life is the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show, scheduled to take place in Tacoma, Wash. September 30-October 2.