The American Booksellers Association is bringing Winter Institute 2024 to Cincinnati, Sunday–Wednesday, February 11–14. Taking place at the Duke Energy Convention Center and the nearby Hyatt Regency Cincinnati Hotel, WI2024 will be four days of programming, schmoozing, and, of course, plentiful opportunities to meet more than 100 featured authors and grab as many ARCs as one can carry.

“The third time’s the charm,” says ABA CEO Allison Hill. “After rolling this destination twice during the pandemic, we’re thrilled to finally be in Cincinnati and, as always, we’re excited to see everyone in person.” Noting that registration for this year’s gathering sold out “in less than an hour”—despite ABA limiting the number of booksellers from each store who can attend—Hill promises this year’s event will be the largest Winter Institute gathering yet, topping the record of 900 booksellers at WI2023 in Seattle.

Following a day of bookstore tours (see “Cincinnati Caters to Readers,” p. 6), the WI2024 program officially kicks off Monday morning with a keynote presentation by entrepreneur James Rhee (Red Helicopter) and a lunchtime keynote by mediator William Ury (Possible: How We Survive and Thrive in an Age of Conflict). The program will conclude on Wednesday, with a morning featured talk by brand strategist Bonnie Wan (The Life Brief: A Playbook for No-Regrets Living) and an afternoon closing keynote by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s).

Other highlights include a Tuesday breakfast keynote by journalist Michele Norris (Our Hidden Conversations: What Americans Really Think About Race and Identity; see “Prompting Stories and Subtexts,”p. 31), along with a full slate of panels and workshops on such standard topics as employee retention, seasonal buying, working with publishers and with Ingram, and marketing and branding strategies. Other panels will cover hot topics like DEI, de-escalation techniques, worker-owned cooperative models, using AI for good, book banning, labor trends that impact bookstores, and effectively supporting LGBTQ employees.

We believe the future is indie. —ABA CEO Allison Hill

Booksellers as storytellers will be a major theme of this year’s gathering. The Bookseller Oral History Project is launching on Sunday: booksellers are encouraged to record their stories for posterity in room 210 at the Duke Energy Convention Center (see “In Their Own Words,”). During a Wednesday afternoon session titled “Bookstore Resilience: Stories from Venerable Booksellers,” attendees can hear from Kris Kleindienst (Left Bank Books, St. Louis), Janet Jones (Source Booksellers, Detroit), Rick Simonson (Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle), Brein Lopez (Children’s Book World, Los Angeles), and Shirikiana Gerima (Sankofa Video and Books, Washington, D.C.). in the convention center’s junior ballroom. And if any bookseller needs help promoting their store in a way that reflects its unique personality, there will be a “Your Store, Your Story” workshop on Monday afternoon to get them started.

“We believe the future is indie,” Hill says. “The topics for Winter Institute education are designed to help independent bookstores prepare for that future.” Hill emphasizes that there will be a lot of fun mixed in with all this education, including a Forever in Our Romance Era author reception, a book swap dinner, and as always, a star-studded reception on Tuesday evening.

“There’s so much to look forward to at WI2024,” Hill says. “Especially the energy, the passion, and the community that is independent bookselling. I’m looking forward to the conversation, and the inspiration.”

Read more from our Winter Institute Preview feature:

Winter Institute 2024: Writing a Novel for Our Times
Leif Enger channels contemporary anxieties and wonders in his latest novel, set along Lake Superior.

Winter Institute 2024: Cincinnati Caters to Readers
Bricks-and-mortar bookshops anchor neighborhoods, while a book bus and pop-ups take their shelves on the road.

Winter Institute 2024: Adult Authors to Meet
Fiction and nonfiction writers presenting their work at this year’s Winter Institute range from renowned keynotes and all-star bestsellers to love-at-first-read newcomers.

Winter Institute 2024: Prompting Stories and Subtexts
After more than a decade collecting succinct personal statements, Michele Norris puts the cards on the table.

Winter Institute 2024: Reimagining a Family’s History
Claire Messud discusses her multivocal new novel, drawn from her Algerian relatives’ memories and experiences.

Winter Institute 2024: Children's Authors to Meet
Established creators and future favorites are among the picture book, middle grade, and YA authors in Cincinnati.

Winter Institute 2024: Scouting Locations and Making Friends
In her latest picture book, Lauren Castillo finds inspiration in her neighborhood and local dogs.

Winter Institute 2024: A Career Devoted to Books
Joy Dallanegra-Sanger discusses her 40 years in the book business, and the friendships she’s made along the way.

Winter Institute 2024: In Their Own Words
The Bookseller Oral History Project aims to preserve the often-hidden history of bookselling in America.