The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association are moving their fall conference to the summer and adding a spring event to provide crucial title introductions for publishers and booksellers.
While creating New Voices New Rooms, the virtual meeting space for SIBA and NAIBA, the two organizations took the opportunity to ask questions and reinvent their regional conferences. Covid protocols had stripped away business habits and patterns. The result is a reimagined conference initiative.
"Summer is when booksellers are focused on their holiday buying, and it made sense to host an event at that critical time in the process," said NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler. "Once we shared this idea with booksellers and publishers, people started nodding their heads and wondering why we hadn't done this a long time ago."
Linda-Marie Barrett, executive director of SIBA, commented: "A summer conference is ideal for SIBA booksellers, who live in a region where football and challenging weather, along with bookfairs and the holiday season, compete for attention. Summer can be slow for southern booksellers, so our new timing could bring even greater attendance."
The two 2022 conference events are scheduled for May 17-18 and the week of August 8. Each conference will be structured differently. The May event focuses on bookseller/author connections, introducing booksellers to authors through panel programs, keynote presentations and breakout rooms where authors and small groups of booksellers will enjoy get-to-know-you talks. The pick of the list and editor buzz sessions return, and publishers' studio spaces will promote their upcoming releases, provide galleys and share promotion details. This information will remain available to booksellers for an extended period after the two-day event.
The August conference will feature a week of education, bookseller retreats, author presentations, new and upcoming titles and publisher studios, similar to NVNR from the past two years.
The VIndies awards, recognizing store-made videos that embody the spirit and voice of indie bookstores, will be a stand-alone event on October 13. Michael Triebwasser, director of operations at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., returns as the master of ceremonies.
NAIBA and SIBA, on their NVNR platform, will also host publicity speed dating March 1-4 and a new owners retreat October 25-27. Separately, both organizations are planning in-person events in April and October, if pandemic protocols permit.