It’s that time of year again when all the regional trade associations host their annual conferences. I belong to the New England Independent Bookselling Association and our trade show starts today in Providence, R.I.
This year NEIBA is trying something new with the schedule. There are educational sessions all day Wednesday and the show floor is only open on Thursday. I think this makes sense. It’s always a challenge to try to cover the show floor while there are educational sessions at the same time. This way, buyers have time to focus just on on looking at books and feel divided about how to spend their time.
The meet and greet cocktail party on Wednesday evening is always a great way to see a lot of authors and illustrators in one place. The only thing I miss about this is that it’s not giving us a sneak peek of the show floor like last year. This year the party is only in the rotunda, so the show floor isn’t even available. I actually got a lot of business done last year at the party by talking with my reps and making orders. And I liked being able to scope out where I wanted to go first the next morning.
What I don’t understand is how the trade show floor is open the middle day of the conference and then on the last day, Friday, there is the annual meeting, two educational sessions and the awards lunch. This just feels to me like a half day of school that begs to cut. The awards lunch just never seems to work out for me. Either it’s the first day and I don’t stay over the night before to save money and short of leaving at six in the morning, I’ve never made it. The children’s dinner, which I’ve never missed, is Thursday night, so folks who might not want to stay for the Friday programming still have to pay to stay overnight unless they like heading for home at 10 at night.
The programming this year is quite good. The author breakfast on Thursday is chock full, with James Dashner, Junot Diaz, Lisa Genova and Dennis Lehane. This is a great line-up and one I will happily wake up for. The children’s dinner is equally good with Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, Scott Nash and David Shannon. I love these meals with authors and illustrators because I’m always surprisingly moved and they’re often funny.
So, I will report back on Friday about how the show has been.