Fall Discovery Show 2017 - Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association
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Fall Discovery Show 2017

The energy at this show is just nurturing … There’s so much about bookselling and publishing that’s challenging. It’s a welcome boost.”


MPIBA Fall Discovery Show 2017 – Slideshow

Enjoy this 11-minute slideshow (click the “HD” button to view in high definition) of the just-completed Fall Discovery Show 2017, with wonderful moments captured in photos by Victoria Henson. Thank you to everyone — booksellers, authors, sponsors, publishers, exhibitors, MPIBA Board and Executive Director, MPIBA staff and volunteers, and The Renaissance Hotel — who made this energetic, exhuberant show so very special!



Record Turnout for Energized
MPIBA 2017 Trade Show


Judith Rosen in Publishers Weekly
October 17, 2017



Liara Tamani, author of “Calling My Name,” talks with booksellers at the Young Readers Roundup. (Photo by Judith Rosen)


It’s taken time for the book industry to recover from the 2008 Great Recession, but at this year’s Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show, those struggles were in the rearview mirror.

Total attendance at the show, held October 12-14 at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, hit 601. The turnout was the largest one recorded since executive director Laura Burnett began running the show in 2011. Of the over 600 attendees, 350 were booksellers, which is nearly double the number that attended the event in 2015.

Among the new attendees this year were Annette Avery, who opened Bright Side Bookshop in Flagstaff, Ariz., in February; Chelsea Green and her sister, Jessica Tresp, who are in the midst of a $50,000 Indiegogo campaign to open Bibliobar in North Dallas, Tex.; and Jessie Smith, who will take over the Book Haven in Salida, Colo., in March.


Exhibitor Jeanne Devlin, editor of The RoadRunner Press in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Judith Rosen)


A return to submitting orders to all but the largest houses was another sign of post-recession strength. Julie Shimada, children’s book buyer at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colo., was one of a number of booksellers who placed orders, in her case nearly 20.

“Orders don’t have to be dead,” Derek Lawrence, head of Imprint Group, said. “When the regionals changed to discovery shows, the emphasis moved to getting galleys. In the last few years, I see it going back, the reaction to the recession.”

The chances to interact with authors has long been a draw of MPIBA—and this year was no exception. “I’m interested in the authors,” Joanne Walker Matzenbacher of Bookworks in Albuquerque, N.M., said. For her, the kick-off event, a children’s breakfast with Peter Sis (Robinson, Scholastic), Jessica Brody (The Chaos of Standing Still, Simon Pulse), and Shannon and Dean Hale (The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate, Candlewick), was “fabulous.”

A number of booksellers wiped away tears during the Hales’ impassioned speech about why books for boys and girls should not be stereotyped. “Reading helps us learn empathy,” Shannon Hale said. “If we’re shielding boys [from books featuring girls], they’re not learning about half the human race.”


Former Tattered Cover Book Store owner Joyce Meskis and Tattered Cover COO Matt Miller honor book director Cathy Langer, who will retire after 40 years at the end of December. (Photo by Judith Rosen)


MPIBA included a full day of education with how-to sessions on store branding and back-office operations. Other sessions covered book fairs (and how to use them to your financial advantage) and working publishers on promotional efforts (beyond coop).

As with all the regionals, MPIBA hosted a session created by the ABA to encourage booksellers to improve their bottom line. At the talk, ABA senior program officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and board member Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, presented tips on how indies can sell more backlist.

In the end, it was the tone of the show that excited publishers and booksellers. “The energy at this show is just nurturing,” Kirsten Johanna Allen, publisher and editorial director of Torrey House Press in Salt Lake City, said. “There’s so much about bookselling and publishing that’s challenging. It’s a welcome boost.”



Books & Brews

Kirsten Johanna Allen, publisher and editorial director of Torrey House Press in Salt Lake City flanked by author Stephen Trimble, RED ROCK STORIES (left) and Scott Graham, YOSEMITE FALL (right).





Author Banquet

From left: Uzodinma Iweala, SPEAK NO EVIL from HarperCollins/Harper; Amy Bloom, WHITE HOUSES from Penguin Random House/Random House; Matt de la Peña and Loren Long, LOVE from Penguin Random House/Penguin Young Readers Group; and Francisco Cantú, THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER from Penguin Random House/Riverhead.




MPIBA Board of Directors and Executive Director

From left: Phoebe Gaston, Book Travelers West; Anne Holman, MPIBA Board President, The King’s English Bookshop; Laura Ayrey Burnett, MPIBA Executive Director; Christopher Green, The Bookworm of Edwards; Heather Duncan, MPIBA Vice-President, Tattered Cover Book Store; Danielle Foster, Treasurer, Bookworks in Albuquerque; Jeremy Ellis, Interabang Books; and Nicole Sullivan, Secretary, BookBar.



A Signature Moment at MPIBA Fall Discovery Show


 “Deeper Understanding” by Robert Gray in Shelf Awareness
October 20, 2017


The Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show, held last week in Denver, Colo., featured an invigorating blend of youth and experience, energy and inspiration, hard work and great fun (just ask Valerie Koehler of Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop about the Texas team’s nail-biting triumph in the Literary Trivia Game).

The show was a hit by any measure. Total attendance was 601, up dramatically from 535 in 2016. MPIBA executive director Laura Ayrey Burnett said, “The board and our staff, myself included, are all still reeling from the success and camaraderie felt at this year’s show. We are almost always pleased after each show but this year’s attendance just made a huge difference in expanding our MPIBA ‘family.’

All of our meal events were completely sold out and the exhibit hall was almost always bustling with more orders being placed than years prior. Simply put, it was wonderful on all fronts.”

I’ll write about some of the author events and education sessions next week, but I wanted to focus on a signature moment at this year’s MPIBA show that beautifully encapsulated the “family” aspect of our profession.


Cathy Langer Honored at Gala Opening Reception

From left: Cathy Langer, Matt Miller, and Joyce Meskis.


On Thursday, a special ceremony was held just before the exhibit hall opened to honor Cathy Langer. After 40 years with Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store, she will retire from her position as director of buying at the end of December (just one more crazy holiday season!).


As a crowd of booksellers, sales reps, authors and publishers gathered around the small stage near the hall entrance, Joyce Meskis, Tattered Cover’s owner from 1974 until this year, stepped to the podium and offered a heartfelt tribute, recounting her initial job interview with Langer in 1977: “Cathy came through with flying colors. It was just really wonderful. And I couldn’t wait to offer her the job. In the course of our conversation with each other, I said something like, ‘Well, can you commit to a year at least?’ The rest is history.


“She is first a terrific bookseller…. She’s smart, really sharp, intelligent, intuitive, with an unfailing memory; exceptionally hardworking, responsible, professional, all the valuable attributes that go along with being a well-rounded bookseller. But she’s also a great humanitarian, a great woman, who cares deeply about a lot of things in our world and in our community, and in the life of her family…. She’s done practically everything that an individual can do at a bookstore, and she has done it so beautifully, so well, so graciously, so, so, so, so beautifully. Thank you for everything.”

Then Tattered Cover COO Matt Miller joined Meskis on the stage, noting: “If Cathy was up here, I’m sure there’d be about 130 years of bookselling between Cathy, Joyce and me.”

Miller said Langer is “considered one of the most highly respected buyers in the industry. In that capacity, she has served as a bellwether for publishers and sales reps for many, many years. She has done all these things with incredible energy, passion, efficiency and dedication. So, Cathy, from all of your Tattered Cover co-workers, bookselling colleagues around the country, the publishing community, authors and thousands and thousands of customers whose lives you have enhanced and enriched, thank you, congratulations, and best wishes.”


Now it was Langer’s turn. She addressed the crowd–her book family–with characteristic humor and modesty: “This is awkward and weird because I’m used to being at a podium or out talking to the public about fun people and saying wonderful things about them and getting ready for them to come up and say their great things…. It’s also weird for me to be up here with all of you saying great things because I just every day got up and was able to do something I loved to do. I mean, every morning I’d say, ‘I get to go to work, be happy about it and be excited about the reps I’d be seeing, customers I’d be working with, my co-workers. Every day I learned something new.”

Noting her career has been filled with both challenges and “so much fun,” Langer said that “it’s really the community that has meant so much to me all these years….

The Mountains & Plains community is just amazing. I have so many great memories…. Over the years, there’s been ups and downs, but it’s always interesting, as we like to say. A roller coaster, a lot of fun, a lot of worry, but we’ve always had each other and that’s really what’s kept us going I think. It’s the community. It’s the authors, it’s the books, of course. But the continuity of what we all do together is really what makes it so special.”


She expressed gratitude to Meskis “for making me commit to a year. Really, I will often say that that commitment horrified me. I’d never worked anywhere more than 3-6 months, and that was only a couple of places. So, thanks, Joyce. It’s been great.”

Langer concluded by calling this “a really good time for me to be going on a new route, a new chapter. We’ve got great energy at the store…. Everyone’s amazing, and so it’s a really good time for me to say okay, have fun with it. I’m going to have a different kind of fun now.”

A signature MPIBA moment. Happy retirement, Cathy, from your extended book family. More on the show next week.

Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives at Fresh Eyes Now)



Literary Trivia

The Texas team wins a cutthroat battle in one of the most exciting and exuberant events at the Show.



In the Exhibit Hall

Authors of THE FOUNTAIN TAROT from Shambhala/Roost Books: Andi Todaro, Jason Gruhl, and Jonathan Saiz.  





Bookseller Education

Valerie Koehler from Blue Willow Bookshop and Joy Dallanegra-Sanger from ABA before their presentation, “ABA Presents Maximizing Backlist: Proven Ways to Market, Promote, and Sell Backlist.”




Children’s Author & Illustrator Breakfast

From left: Peter Sis, ROBINSON from Scholastic; Jessica Brody, THE CHAOS OF STANDING STILL from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse; Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, THE PRINCESS IN BLACK from Candlewick.

Authors of Buzz Books Breakfast

Ann Leckie, PROVENANCE from Hachette Book Group/Orbit and Peter Carey, A LONG WAY FROM HOME from Penguin Random House/Knopf. 




MPIBA Volunteers and Staff at The Renaissance Hotel

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association extends a deeply heartfelt THANK YOU to our unbelievable volunteers and to the extraordinary staff at The Renaissance Denver Hotel for their hard work, passion, and dedication in helping MPIBA deliver an amazing Fall Discovery Show … we couldn’t have done this without all of you!




Fall Discovery Show 2017
Photos by Victoria Henson except where noted.
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2017

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