to my surprise and elation, I was this year's recipient of the Glenn
Goldman scholarship to the annual independent bookseller's conference,
The Winter Institute. For those of you not familiar with Glenn
Goldman, he was the owner of Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los
Angeles. When he passed away in 2009, a scholarship was established in
his name so that eligible Southern California booksellers could apply in
the hopes of winning an opportunity to attend The Winter Institute.
This conference is conducted by the ABA, The American Booksellers
Association, whose sole purpose is to support the independent
bookselling community. Let me tell you, this is no small task!
It was the 7th annual Winter Institute and this year's chosen city
was New Orleans. The ABA board members put in countless hours,
organizing a myriad of presentations relating to all aspects of
bookselling. Structured days left you with just enough time to rotate
from meeting to meeting. Some topics included improving profitability,
tools for demographic studies, and procedures for supporting the rights
of free speech. Publishers and authors were there as well, showing us
all new and exciting titles that are coming this spring. It was a
whirlwind of activity but, I have to say, one of the highlights of
the conference was listening to author/bookstore owner, Ann Patchett,
speak. Her enthusiasm and passion for books was so infectious and
moving, she got a standing ovation and I actually shed a tear or two.
Over the course of the three days, there were many opportunities to
meet other independent booksellers from all over the United States. The
available slots for the Winter Institute quickly filled to capacity,
with around 500 attendees. That's an impressive amount, representing
booksellers from almost every state. The wealth of knowledge and
experience was astounding, not to mention the dedication.
In our free time, we all ventured out into one of the most charming
cities I have ever seen. This was my first time visiting New Orleans and
I was immediately smitten. Its history, architecture, people, food,
music, art are all so amazing...I could gush all day. On my last night
there, I sat on Royal Street enjoying the balmy evening, trying to sift
through my experiences over the past few days. Trying to sum it up in one
word, the best description is overwhelming, but in a
wonderful, life-changing way. I return having learned more about the
business I love, grateful for the new friends I have made, and for the
opportunity of experiencing a city that now feels like home.
Bookstore, New Orleans anyone?