Flying Pig Reports from BEA 1

Alison Morris - May 30, 2008

Howdy. Elizabeth here. Can we just say that it’s distracting to have the convention in L.A.? The show hotel is extremely convenient, not only to itself (we only have to go down the hall, past the elevators, and around the corner from our room to get to the education-day meetings), but to the Times Square-esque neighborhood of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. I grew up in L.A., but twelve years in quaint, billboard-free Vermont have turned me into a country bumpkin agog at the traffic and crowds, and charmed by the famous Hollywood Blvd. stars in the pavement. Note: there are still some blank stars at the intersections, in case anyone’s considering a career switch.

Snapshots from Thursday:

The mood during the day of education was extremely cheery and collegial. It actually felt like a regional show, in the best ways: bookseller friends from near and far chatting, talking books and budgets and buzzing about the ABA’s new BookSense-replacing initiative (more on which later, we’re late for the children’s breakfast!).

Seminar highlights:

The Association of Booksellers for Children rolled out its New Voices list: 25 top new titles by debut authors, two of whom spoke at lunch: Cecila Galante, whose YA novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies, is a huge bookseller favorite, and Marie Rutkowski, whose clever, lively new middle-grade fantasy The Cabinet of Wonders seems poised to take off. Cecilia’s book is a fictionalized account of her own experiences growing up in a cult; she reduced many of us to tears with her gentle but impassioned talk about the importance of voice for children whose identities have been muted. Marie spoke about vision — literal and metaphorical blindness — and its relationship to her childhood and novel. Publishers had sent finished copies and galleys of all of the New Voices choices (packed, might we add, with the kind of attention and care we could only wish for from some warehouses), and booksellers were kids in a candy shop at the galley grab.

Co-Op seminar: we know about co-op, of course, and berate ourselves for not pursuing it more. Mark Kaufman (from Paz & Associates) and Libby Cowles (an incredibly efficient co-op-claiming-queen bookseller) shared some tips. New tidbits: publishers like to see their names and the book price info in ads (tiny print is fine). February is a good time to get annual co-op summaries from wholesalers; a percentage of those sales gets added to your publisher-direct sales for the total co-op pool. (You send the tear sheets from the summary to the publisher, and they do the math. Hurrah!) Even publishers without formal co-op plans can be approachable and open to requests. The industry standard for advertising/promo co-op is $50 for a 50-word blurb and jacket cover. Circulation doesn’t matter, but if you’re going to be moving a lot of books, ask for more. Finally, don’t forget to use publisher co-op to help pay for holiday catalog newspaper insertions or mailings. 

Josie here, on Budgeting and Monitoring:  Only Avin Domnitz could make a three-hour number-crunching seminar riveting. Handy hint to all booksellers: Avin’s dog is named James Dean. This info is usually good for swag at his seminars. One great thing I learned was the ABA has downloadable budgeting sheets that go right in Excel. You just plug in your numbers and the calculations are done for you. Now, it’s really easy to see what you need to be more profitable. Landlord beware: I’m ready to renegotiate my lease like a pro after the very informative session, the upshot being know your area and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want; every landlord wants a bookstore. Remember that all educational hand-outs are available at, so if you couldn’t make to LA, you can still reap a lot of the benefits. I feel like I’ve gotten to see my bookselling friends a lot this year between the regional show, the Winter Institute and BEA, and it’s great to touch base so often with like-minded people who share my passion for books.

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