The American Booksellers Association’s Snow Days event was originally planned to give booksellers who couldn’t attend Winter Institute 17 in Cincinnati in mid-February a chance to virtually sample some of the programming, and a few add-ons. But Snow Days has taken on a bigger role since the omicron wave forced the cancellation of WI in December. In the intervening months, ABA has transformed what was to have been a two-day event into a full-fledged virtual conference that fits neatly into the bookselling calendar just ahead of April’s spring regional shows and Independent Bookstore Day.

The inaugural Snow Days: A Virtual Bookselling Retreat, now set for Tuesday–Thursday, March 8–10, has expanded from two days to three. It will feature livestreamed and prerecorded appearances by close to 70 authors, including MacArthur “genius grant” fellow Hanif Abdurraqib, poet Elizabeth Acevedo, Crime Writers of Color cofounder Kellye Garrett, romance novelist Jasmine Guillory, Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, and Penobscot Indian Nation citizen Morgan Talty.

Each day kicks off with a morning keynote, beginning March 8 with futurist Jane McGonigal, who will address a question on the minds of many in the book business during the pandemic: “How to Imagine the Future of Bookselling.” It’s a theme that particularly resonates with ABA CEO Allison Hill, who wrote in a recent letter to members that, “after this extreme and extended period of disruption,” she’s concerned about planning for the future. She questions what ABA and booksellers should be paying attention to as they move forward: “What’s about to take flight? And how can we be prepared for the ride?”

Other Snow Days talks are all about the books, including a lunchtime event on Thursday afternoon featuring Grammy Award–winning recording artist Alicia Keys, who will discuss her graphic novel, Girl on Fire (cowritten with Andrew Weiner and illustrated by Brittney Williams), in conversation with bookseller Donya Craddock, co-owner of the Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, Tex. Novelist Emma Straub, co-owner of Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, N.Y., will moderate a keynote panel entitled “Storytelling in the Cultural Moment,” while writer and poet Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kans., will lead a keynote panel entitled “Poets Take the Stage.” Poetry interludes are also woven throughout all three days.

In addition, Snow Days attendees will have an opportunity to participate in roundtable conversations with other booksellers on a variety of subjects, including running microstores, mobile bookstores, nonprofits, and employee-owned co-ops, as well as business changes made during the pandemic that are worth keeping. Other sessions offer candid conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of unionizing bookstores and prioritizing community engagement for social change. In a panel entitled “Black Female Entrepreneurship: Bookselling and Literacy as Resistance,” booksellers will look at the intersection of race and literature.

Rep picks, a key component of Winter Institute, will take place both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, as will hourlong author receptions, which offer chances to mingle virtually with writers from small and large presses. Several affinity groups will also meet during the retreat, though Snow Days registration won’t be required. Among them are groups for BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQ, and neurodiverse communities.

Below, more on Snow Days:

Snow Days 2022: Adult Authors to Meet
Dozens of writers will gather virtually for ABA’s debut Snow Days. Here is a selection, from large houses and small.

Snow Days 2022: Jane McGonigal Wants You to Think Like a Futurist
An excerpt from the introduction of the world-renowned alternate reality game designer and humanitarian's new book, 'Imaginable' (Spiegel & Grau, Mar.).

Snow Days 2022: Children's Authors to Meet
Dozens of writers will gather virtually for ABA’s debut Snow Days. Here is a selection, from large houses and small.

Cincinnati Bookstores Enjoy a Renaissance
Indie booksellers everywhere were disappointed when the American Booksellers Association called off this year's Winter Institute in Cincinnati, but local booksellers were even more disappointed: they had been looking forward to showing off their city’s rich literary offerings.