“MPIBA a Big Success”
October 10-12, 2013
The Renaissance Denver Hotel in Denver, Colorado
- To view a Slideshow of all the Trade Show photos, click below.
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- To take the 2013 Trade Show Survey, click here.
- Please take a moment to read the wonderful articles below by Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly and Julie Wernersbach from BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, Texas.
MPIBA a Big Success in Denver
By Claire Kirch in Publishers Weekly
Oct. 14, 2013
As the 155 booksellers attending the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association fall trade show arrived at Denver’s Renaissance Hotel between Oct. 10-12, they were given bags from Utah publisher Gibbs Smith that read, in large white letters on a red background, “Keep Calm and Read On.” It was an apt slogan for the show, as a number of attendees were impacted by September’s torrential floods in Colo., amplified by this month’s government shutdown, which is also affecting booksellers throughout the region. Not only are there furloughs of federal employees who are bookstore customers, but national parks are closed in a region heavily reliant on the visitors they draw. (Utah and Colo. booksellers were relieved to hear during the show that their home states were taking over national parks and temporarily reopening them.)
With a crowd of American Red Cross workers in residence at the hotel, it was hard not to reflect upon the impact of the recent floods, particularly on MacDonald’s Bookshop in Estes Park. Although the store suffered no damage, it was closed for four days; afterwards, the sidewalks outside had to be cleared of mud and debris so customers could enter. The store was slammed yet again in Oct. when nearby Rocky Mountain National Park was closed. Sales are down about 50%, co-owner Paula Steige said, with no signs of a rebound. “Winter is a down time in Estes Park anyway,” she said.
Boulder Books closed for three partial days and for an entire day, when the city of Boulder shut down, book buyer Arsen Kashkashian reported. It was, he recalled, the first time in the 20+ years he’s worked at the store that it ever closed because of weather. Kashkashian, who once skied from his home to the store to open it during a huge blizzard, said that Boulder Books lost 20-25% in sales last month, and is still down about 5% in Oct. “Hopefully, it’ll continue to go up,” he said.
In contrast, Old Firehouse Books in Ft. Collins stayed open the day floods blocked access between downtown and the rest of the city. “Downtown was an island,” co-owner Susie Wilmer recalled. Sales were good, because people were “trapped” downtown, but “not as high as normal.” Even though the store took a hit in Sept., sales this year are still up 3%, and last year “was the best year we ever had.” She is, Wilmer says, “counting upon” a strong holiday season.
Other regional booksellers fared much better this year. Sales are up at Park City, Utah’s Dolly’s Books, manager Sue Fassett says, due to a vibrant tourist industry in the upscale resort area. Valerie Koehler reported that Blue Willow in Houston was up 3% and Vicki Lee Burger reported that Wind City Books in Casper, Wyo., an “oil-boom-or-bust town,” is riding a boom now that’s fueling sales. Plus, she pointed out, Blue Heron Books and Ralph’s Books & Cards have closed in the past year or so, making Wind City Books the only bookstore in Wyo.’s second largest city.
While recent nonfiction releases with a regional bent like Hell on Wheels: Wicked Towns along the Union Pacific Railroad by Dick Kreck (Fulcrum Publishing) and Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen (Crown) enticed booksellers, adult fiction dominated the show.
Craig Johnson’s novella, Spirit of Steamboat (Viking), had to be the most buzzed-up book of the show. It didn’t hurt that Johnson, a gregarious, charismatic, and larger-than-life Wyomingite, captivated booksellers, first with a visit to the show floor during the day, and then with a rousing speech at the authors’ banquet that evening, when he reminisced about his visit to MPIBA in 2004, promoting his debut novel, Cold Dish. Spirit of Steamboat is Wyo.’s inaugural state-wide reading selection; the program launches next week. Other novels that most appealed to booksellers include Monument Road by Charlie Quimby (Torrey House, Nov.), which Anne Holman of the King’s English in Salt Lake City praised for its characters and strong sense of place; and Shotgun Lovesongs (St. Martin’s/ Mar. 2014), Nickolas Butler’s debut, which bookseller Jackie Blem of Denver’s Tattered Cover talked up to seemingly everyone at the show. Shotgun Lovesongs is one of the titles featured in the ABA’s new “Indies Introduce” marketing program.
Although the quality of the books on display overwhelmed many booksellers that PW queried, the 71 authors in attendance stole the show. Blue Willow’s Koehler pronounced this year’s author events to be “spectacular,” with the “best set of authors ever,” including literary icons like Armistead Maupin, who told booksellers that Days of Anna Madrigal (HarperCollins, Jan. 2014) would be the last of the “Tales of the City” that he started writing in the mid-1970s; and Kent Haruf, who received the Spirit of the West Award for lifetime achievement. Haruf, who was interviewed by PW at MPIBA 2012, touched booksellers when he disclosed for the first time publicly that a cleft palate made his teen years miserable, “but ended up being a blessing.” His social withdrawal during his youth caused him to be “more aware of others and to pay close attention to how people think,” which still serves him well in writing fiction. Ever since he started writing, he declared, “I’ve tried not to write too small, and I’ve tried not to live too small either.”
“There was a lot of laughter and poignancy” during the author presentations, Koehler noted as the show wound down Saturday. Her sentiments were echoed by Dolly’s Books’ Fassett, who commented that she’s “always surprised at how eloquent and entertaining authors can be. Of course, they’re wordsmiths, and it often translates. MPIBA chose their authors well.”
Children’s Authors Upstage Their Books at MPIBA Show
By Claire Kirch in Publishers Weekly
Oct. 17, 2013
Although there were plenty of great children’s books on display at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers annual trade show, which took place at the Denver Renaissance Hotel from October 10–12, the 71 authors present indisputably stole the show, particularly those who spoke in front of the 155 MPIBA booksellers in attendance. Valerie Koehler, owner of Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop, described the slate of authors as “spectacular,” a sentiment echoed by scores of others.
This year’s MPIBA show kicked off with the Children’s Author and Illustrator Breakfast, featuring Matt de la Peña (The Living, Delacorte), Lauren Myracle (The Infinite Moment of Us, Abrams/Amulet), and Robert Sabuda (The Little Mermaid, Little Simon), who spoke before booksellers seated at tables festooned with colorful plastic sea creatures and seashells.
(From l.) Matt de la Peña, Lauren Myracle, and Robert Sabuda adorn themselves with the table decorations at the Children’s Authors & Illustrator Breakfast.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this book,” de la Peña said, as he held up an early hardcover of The Living. “It’s very pretty.” De la Peña, who has written four other YA novels, related some stories from his childhood, growing up Mexican-American and working-class in Southern Calif. Describing his earlier books as having “race and class out there as the focus,” de la Peña called The Living “more contextual”: Espinoza, a teenager working on a luxury cruise ship, and Addie, wealthy teenage passenger, are thrown together after an earthquake off the California coast releases a tsunami that sinks the ship.
“This was my attempt to tone down the class and race issues and play up the larger story elements in the hopes of reaching a broader audience,” de la Peña said.
Lauren Myracle also addressed inclusiveness in her presentation of her most recent novel, The Infinite Moment of Us. “One of my goals is in writing books is to make the point that we are so much more alike than different,” said the author, who has written 19 books for middle-grade and teen readers. “To downplay anyone’s struggles is to do them a disservice.”
Robert Sabuda signs The Little Mermaid, his 24th pop-up book.
Describing her YA novels as stories about teens whose “souls [are] colliding, as well as bodies colliding,” Myracle explained that she wants to contradict the myths that society perpetuates concerning teenagers. “Boys can be nervous about sex and girls can enjoy sex,” she said, before reading correspondence from “haters” as well as from parents wanting to know how they could connect with their teenage children more effectively.
Adolescent concerns resurfaced with an unlikely author, when pop-up creator Robert Sabuda joked that The Little Mermaid is the story of “a young woman with body issues who doesn’t understand the phrase, ‘he’s just not that into you,.’ ” Sabuda related the details of hisjourney toward becoming an acclaimed illustrator and engineer of 24 pop-up books published since 1994, when The Christmas Alphabet was released.
“From the first moment that I could pick up a crayon and draw it across the paper, I knew I would be an artist,” he said. At age eight, he received a Cinderella pop-up book by the Czech artist Vojtech Kubašta as a gift and tried to replicate it, using manila folders his mother brought home from work. When he was 15, Sabuda disclosed, he was caught shoplifting oil paints from an art supply store, but was let go after the mall security guard asked him if he was an artist. “Was it a subconscious respect for art in a poor part of Michigan?” Sabuda asked the MPIBA booksellers.
At the Children’s Author Tea, eight tables of booksellers each welcomed a rotating procession of authors making five-minute elevator pitches.
“My books are traditional fairy tales with a tough-girl edge and set in the West,” said Erin Zweiner, a Montana resident and debut author; her next book will be titled Snow White and the Seven Burros.
“I never thought there’d be this many,” Jennifer Adams said of her Babylit series, which now has seven classics adapted for toddlers. “I do read the originals; I want to capture the spirit of the book and make it approachable.”
MPIBA booksellers listen to an author’s five-minute presentation during the Children’s Authors Tea at MPIBA.
Holly Goldberg Sloan said that her Counting by 7s “is not a happy book, but it’s a hopeful book.” Though it’s aimed at middle-grade readers, it’s also appropriate for both YA and adult readers, she added, calling it a “family novel.”
According to Todd Mitchell, Backwards is hard to describe, and told in reverse. Dan commits suicide, and his alter ego, The Rider, “loves life.” Mitchell, a high school teacher, explained that he wanted to “address the seriousness of suicide, but also write an uplifting book that would attract readers who wouldn’t normally read books about suicide.”
Julie Berry told booksellers that she had “stumbled upon a character” and wrote All the Truth That’s in Me in the second person in a short amount of time, drawing upon her own “stalker mentality” as a teenager.
Paolo Bacigalupi explained that Zombie Baseball Beatdown targets those boy readers in the third to seventh grades “who think that books suck.” Mark Tatulli also wants to engage reluctant boy readers, he said, even though he hopes that girls will like Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic as well. “It’s not Gone with the Wind, but it’s a gateway to reading. If they have a positive experience with a book, they’ll want to read more.”
(From l.) Author Jennifer A. Nielsen, bookseller Valerie Koehler of Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop, and Liesl Freudenstein of Boulder Bookstore chat after the Children’s Authors Tea.
Jennifer A. Nielsen’s three Ascendance novels – The False Prince, The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne (out February 2014) – are also for the reluctant reader, the author noted: “This is a good middle-grade alternative to Harry Potter. It’s got romance and adventure and the action goes on and on.” As Nielsen wound up her short presentation, she celebrated the partnership between booksellers and authors, noting, “When we write books and you sell books, we make magic. Neither of us can do it alone.”
During the author presentations, “there was a lot of laughter and poignancy,” Blue Willow’s Koehler noted as the show wound down Saturday. Sue Fassett, who manages Dolly’s Books in Park City, Utah, said that she’s “always surprised at how eloquent and entertaining authors can be. Of course, they’re wordsmiths, and it often translates. MPIBA chose their authors well.”