Executive directors of regional bookseller associations are optimistic that this year’s fall trade shows will be big draws, citing increases in membership, strong turnouts for in-person events last spring, and the desire of many members of the industry to once again get together. All the regionals are planning in-person shows, although the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance will once again team up for a virtual New Voices New Rooms event, to be held August 8–11. Smaller in-person programs are planned by NAIBA and SIBA later in the year.
SIBA will hold a “bookseller gathering” in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, September 7–8. According to executive director Linda-Maria Barrett, the focus will be on bookseller education, author/bookseller interaction, networking, and the discovery of new titles and will not have an exhibit piece. In order to bring some of its booksellers together, NAIBA is planning a one-day event in Rhinebeck. N.Y., tentatively scheduled for October 17. The meeting is planned as a social event for NAIBA’s northern stores, and no publishers or vendors will be attending, according to member manager Elliott batTzedek.
The California Independent Booksellers Association will have its first-ever in-person regional September 9–11 at the Sacramento Sheraton Grand. Before the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and Southern California Independent Booksellers Association combined in 2020 to form CALIBA, the California shows usually ran in late October and were typically the last fairs to be held. Because of Covid restrictions, the 2022 show is CALIBA’s first. “It’s our first-ever all-California show, and the city is rolling out the red carpet for us,” said CALIBA co-executive director Kristin Rasmussen. While it is hard to predict attendance, Rasmussen noted that the association has added numerous bookstores since the start of the pandemic.
Plans call for a September 9 afternoon visit with state representatives, and while the agenda is still being formulated, topics are likely to include support for small businesses and issues around book bans, Rasmussen said. That evening, CALIBA plans an opening reception followed by a “casual cocktail party” at Ross and Heidi Rojek’s Sacramento store, Capital Books.
Another West Coast fair follows CALIBA. The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association will run September 18–20 in Tacoma’s Hotel Murano. Brian Juenemann, executive director/marketing for PNBA, believes attendance will be close to prepandemic levels of 500–600 people, including 300 booksellers and library members. PNBA held an in-person meeting last year, where attendance was capped because of Covid concerns, and all slots were taken.
Juenemann has ruled out adding a hybrid component. “The numbers did not play out to support that last year—the attendance just wasn’t there,” he said. “It’s possible we could add a video component, but, again, the events we filled last year in the physical space had very little traffic online, so the investment just doesn’t make sense.”
The East Coast swing kicks off September 21, when the New England Independent Booksellers Associ-ation opens at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. Executive director Beth Ineson said NEIBA’s events in the first half of 2022 “have all been very well attended,” and she is expecting a good turnout for the fall conference. “While we took a big swing at Zoom events over the past two years, nothing replaces the conversations, the book discoverability, and the hugs on the show floor,” she noted. “We can’t wait to have booksellers, authors, and our publisher partners all together in the same physical space again.”
Like PNBA, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association managed to pull off an in-person show last year, and executive director Heather Duncan is looking forward to a bigger fair at the Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel from September 28 to October 1. Duncan noted that MPIBA held two well-attended in-person spring cons this year, and that interest in the fall conference is very high. “We are expecting to exceed our prepandemic numbers of both attendees and exhibitors,” she said, adding that because of an increase in membership she expects to have another influx of first-time bookseller attendees.
The fall shows will conclude October 12–14, when the Heartland Fall Forum, produced by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, takes place at the St. Louis Hyatt Regency at the Arch. MIBA executive director Carrie Obry and GLIBA’s Larry Law both said they are expecting a healthy turnout due to high membership numbers. Law said that GLIBA has added 50 new booksellers over the past three years, bringing the total to 200, and that there are currently more members than there have been at any other point in GLIBA’s history. MIBA has also had an increase in membership, particularly from BIPOC-owned stores.
Obry is hoping that the strong turnout for MIBA’s spring event, which attracted 75 booksellers rather than the typical 40–50, will translate to high numbers for the forum. She also noted that 2022 is the 10th anniversary of the Heartland Forum. To mark the occasion, MIBA and GLIBA will be doing a photo retrospective, selling custom merchandise, and hosting an anniversary party on opening night featuring 10 indie publisher sponsors.