National Opening Keynote

September 15, 4:30 p.m. ET

Al Sharpton

Rise Up (Hanover Square, Sept.)

Sharpton will be interviewed by Ramunda Young, co-owner of MahoganyBooks in Washington, D.C.

Open only to booksellers.

New Voices New Rooms


September 21–25

● SIBA and NAIBA’s first joint fall show promises to be very full. with four tracks of programming—education, author events, publishers, and networking. The show kicks off on Monday morning with a children’s breakfast with author Tami Charles and illustrator Bryan Collier talking about their latest book, All Because You Matter (Orchard), and closes on Friday afternoon with a social-distancing-friendly drinks gathering titled “Meet Me in the Bar!”

● In addition to preserving regional favorites like NAIBA’s owners, children’s booksellers, store managers, and events managers retreats, New Voices will include sessions on press kits and hosting virtual events as part of NAIBA’s newly introduced Professional Booksellers Certification program. Attendees at these sessions will receive credit toward their certificate.

● “It’s going to be really wonderful for booksellers to see what booksellers outside their region are doing well, so they can share resources,” says SIBA head Linda-Marie Barrett. “And if there’s any way we can add intimacy, connection, and community into a virtual event, we’re going to make that happen.” Those connections can be made at roundtables, coordinated via breakout rooms, on timely topics such as media training, subscription services, gift bundling, and additional sources of income. Other educational sessions designed to generate conversation include ones on emergency planning, employee handbooks, and preorder campaigns. Several sessions in particular speak to what’s on many booksellers’ minds: inventory management, Q4 strategies during the pandemic and beyond, and making bookstores and workplaces welcoming to all.

● For Zoom events, NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler has found that four authors are the optimum number, even though her in-person shows frequently bring together many more. Author events this year will also be organized around themes, including ones on spring titles that may have gotten lost in the Covid shuffle, and on stories of the immigrant experience with Ayad Akhtar (Homeland Elegies, Little, Brown), Maria Hinojosa (Once I Was You, S&S), and Gabriela Garcia (Of Women and Salt, Flatiron). The History and Herstory event features Beth Kephart (Wife/Daughter/Self, Forest Avenue) and Kimberly Jones (How We Can Win, Holt), and the Look Who’s in Town lineup includes Jenny Lawson (Broken (in the Best Possible Way), Holt), Helen Macdonald (Vesper Flights, Grove), and Naomi Klein (How to Change Everything, S&S).

● There are plenty of children-focused events set. New Voices is packed with children’s author and illustrator programming, including a story time with Matt Phelan (Turtle Walk, Greenwillow), Micol Ostow (Sullivan, Who Is Always Too Loud!, with Brian Biggs, Roaring Brook), Yesenia Moises (Stella’s Stellar Hair, Imprint), and Susan Verde (I Am One, with Peter H. Reynolds, Abrams). There’s even a GraphixCon with Shannon Wright (the first book in the Twins series, with Varian Johnson), Maria Scrivan (the Nat Enough series), Gale Galligan (Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels), and Chris Grine (the first books in the Animorphs graphic novel series). And for those looking for chilling bedtime stories, Amy Blackthorn (Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews, Weiser) will appear with Darcy Coates (Silence in the Shadows, Poisoned Pen) and Lorien Lawrence (The Stitchers, Abrams) in Scary, Scary Night.

NEIBA Fall Conference

September 21–25

● The Black Lives Matter movement resonated with booksellers throughout New England—and especially with NEIBA executive director Beth Ineson, who has put together an especially diverse slate of authors. Among the highlights are an opening keynote with Angie Thomas (Concrete Rose, Balzer + Bray); an event with playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes (My Broken Language: A Memoir, One World) in conversation with her editor, Chris Jackson; and an author breakfast that includes speculative fiction writer Rebecca Roanhorse (Black Sun, Saga), Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Committed, Grove), Kaitlyn Greenidge (Libertie, Algonquin), and Ruth Ware (One by One, Scout). Chris Gardner (Permission to Dream, Amistad) will give the closing keynote. The show will also feature the NEIBA Reading Challenge, a region-wide effort to get booksellers and their customers to expand the literary canon, to be led by initiative founder Audrey Huang of Belmont Books in Belmont, Mass.

● For this year’s virtual show, Ineson is changing up the author reception, a NEIBA favorite. “I have long heard that it would be great to make it more dynamic and to have more of a spotlight on the authors,” she says. “Now we can do that on Zoom. The author can make their elevator pitch to all the attendees, instead of just the booksellers who walk up to their table.” NEIBA will aggregate galley requests, which will make it more efficient for publishers, and will remove long waiting lines for booksellers seeking signed galleys. Among the featured children’s authors are Vincent Chen (Hot Pot Night!, Charlesbridge), Darcie Little Badger (Elatsoe, Levine Querido), and Jennifer De Leon (Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Atheneum/Dlouhy). Adult authors will include Randall Horton ({#289–128}, Univ. of Kentucky), Claire Messud (Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, Norton), and Eman Quotah (Bride of the Sea, Tin House).

● At a time when so many aspects of the book business have moved online, including this year’s fall show, there will be several sessions designed to help booksellers get the most out of being online. They will focus on virtual handselling, how to have profitable Zoom events, and making use of online opportunities for branding.

● Other educational programming addresses challenges of the pandemic, such as navigating Q4 and buying for the “new normal,” as well as sessions on sidelines and on alternative revenue sources, such as subscription boxes, book bundles, and partnerships. Difficult times can also lead to stressed employees and managers. “Managing Employees in Troubled Times” is geared toward improving employee-manager communication from both sides, as well as creating supportive and productive environments for booksellers.

PNBA Trade Show

September 29–October 2

● The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show schedule feels a lot like past in-person shows, with an opening night dinner and the association’s traditional Dinner at the Kids’ Table. “We wanted it to look familiar,” says executive director and marketing director Brian Juenemann. But PNBA deliberately chose to have fewer programs than other shows, and reduced its author session slots from 14 down to eight. It also has fewer than half the number of educational sessions than it has scheduled in previous years. In part, Juenemann says, that’s because PNBA “wanted to avoid splitting the audience with concurrent programming.” He adds, “We also wanted to schedule in time for attendees to take a break and get up and do what they need to do. We know everybody’s not going to want to sit for hours.” Every day PNBA closes early, by 8 p.m. at the latest.

● Much of the educational programming is geared to helping booksellers now, including sessions on handselling virtually, building an online presence, and selling online. There’s also a session on preparing for disasters beside a pandemic, as well as one on bookselling activism.

● Once again PNBA will have a strong lineup of children’s authors, beginning with Tuesday’s Authors on the Map Lunch, which includes Christine Day (The Sea in Winter, Heartdrum), Kiku Hughes (Displacement, First Second), Kim Johnson (This Is My America, Random House), and Aiden Thomas (Cemetery Boys, Swoon Reads). Garth Stein (The Cloven #1, Fantagraphics, drawn by Matthew Southworth), Rosanne Parry (A Whale of the Wild, Greenwillow), and Martha Brockenbrough (This Old Dog, Levine Querido, illus. by Gabriel Alborozo) will be among the authors at that evening’s PNBA Family Dinner. Wednesday night’s dinner with children’s authors brings together Jonathan Auxier (Willa the Wisp: The Fabled Stables Book #1, Amulet), Tracy Deonn (Legendborn, S&S/McElderry), Jordan Scott (I Talk Like a River, Holiday House/Porter, illus. by Sydney Smith), and Renée Watson (Love Is a Revolution, Bloomsbury).

● An equally strong list of adult authors will also appear at the show. Among them are:Annabeth Albert (High Heat, Carina), Sarah McCraw Crow (The Wrong Kind of Woman, MIRA), TJ Klune (Under the Whispering Door, Tor), Helen Macdonald (Vesper Flights, Grove), and Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Committed, Grove).

CALIBA Virtual Discovery Lab

October 5–7

● “We’re trying to do everything in 45-minute increments with 15 minutes in between, even the buzz lunch, which we always used to do in an hour-and-half or two hours,” says Calvin Crosby, head of the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. “Even if you can only squeeze in one thing because an author is important to you, it’s okay.” Crosby is also eliminating any talk of meals for session names. “It’s a Zoom thing,” he says, “not a breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”

● Crosby is excited to be able to hold CALIBA’s fall show online during the pandemic. “It’s keeping us in conversation with one another,” he says. “And even when you watch Zoom and participate in Zoom, you’re still part of the community. You still get to see friends.”

● Among the highlights is an opening keynote with Mychal Denzel Smith (Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream, Bold Type) and and a panel of California authors, including Cory Doctorow (Attack Surface, Tor), Caribbean Fragoza (Eat the Mouth That Feeds You, City Lights), Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Committed, Grove), and Katherine Seligman (At the Edge of the Haight, Algonquin).

● Nikki Grimes (Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Bloomsbury) will give the children’s keynote. Among the authors participating in Children’s Author Speed Dating are Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott (All This Time, S&S), Tanita S. Davis (Serena Says, HarperCollins/Tegen), Cynthia Kadohata (Saucy, Atheneum/Dlouhy), and Shannon Takaoka (Everything I Thought I Knew, Candlewick). Skylight bookseller Agnes Borinsky (Sasha Masha, FSG) as well as Bill Konigsberg (The Bridge, Scholastic Press) in conversation with his editor, David Levithan (The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother), Knopf) are among other featured kids’ authors.


October 8–10

● In envisioning this year’s FallCon, Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association executive director Heather Duncan says, “We’re basically doing our [in-person] show, but with no banquet.” She advises booksellers to look for plenty of keynotes. Speed dating with authors is back in a virtual format. And there is no skimping on tables full of speakers online. Ten editors have signed on for Friday’s Editors Buzz Lunch Break.

● The YA lunch break is also very full, with a slate of nine writers, including Darcie Little Badger (Elatsoe, Levine Querido), Shannon Hale (Kind of a Big Deal, Roaring Brook), Lilliam Rivera (Never Look Back, Bloomsbury), Courtney Summers (The Project, Wednesday), and Jenna Evans Welch (Love & Olives, S&S).

● One tweak includes exchanging the opening reception with the Feast of Fiction, which features six keynote authors and a round of culinary questions. Writers include Mateo Askaripour (Black Buck, HMH), Jane Skeslien Charles (The Paris Library, Atria), Te-Ping Chen (Land of Big Numbers, Mariner), Brandon Hobson (The Removed, Ecco), Laird Hunt (Zorrie, Bloomsbury), and Katherine Seligman (At the Edge of the Haight, Algonquin).

● The show opens with its traditional Thursday-morning keynote. Among the children’s authors and illustrators who will appear are Sophie Blackall (If You Come to Earth, Chronicle), David Levithan (The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S., Knopf), and Daniel Nayeri (Everything Sad Is Untrue, Levine Querido).

● A Saturday morning spotlight hosted by Jenny Lawson (Broken (in the Best Possible Way) (Holt), owner of Nowhere Books in San Antonio, Tex., focused on women writers includes Kristin Valdez Quade (The Five Wounds, Norton), Bridget Quinn (She Votes, Chronicle), and Lisa Unger (Confessions of the 7:45, Park Row).

● Many of the educational sessions are specifically designed to foster conversations among booksellers about topics of concern, ranging from holiday marketing to handselling virtually and buying. In addition, there are practical sessions on IndieCommerce and selling kids’ graphic novels. The latter includes the creators of three books: Nathan Hale (Blades of Freedom, Amulet), Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright (the Twins series, Graphix), and Charise Mericle Harper (So Embarrassing, Workman).

Heartland Summer Finale


October 8 and 15

● On October 8, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association will hold their first joint book club.

● The following week, the two organizations will celebrate the winners of their first joint Heartland Booksellers Award.

National Closing Keynote

October 14, 7 p.m. ET

Allie Brosh

Solutions and Other Problems (Gallery)

Brosh will be in conversation with Jenny Lawson, author of Broken (in the Best Possible Way) (Holt) and owner of Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio, Tex.

Open only to booksellers.

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