The upbeat mood was contagious at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s fall trade show, held at the Portland Airport Holiday Inn October 6–8. Booksellers were optimistic and the membership meeting predicted a good end to the year. Though attendance was slightly down, those present connected with fellow booksellers and exhibitors and attended full-house author events. At the sold-out Northwest Classic Author dinner, inspirational novelist Jane Kirkpatrick (One Glorious Ambition) expressed appreciation for children’s librarians, booksellers and authors. “The children’s section, I think, is the most powerful section,” she said, explaining that she considers booksellers “community people and not just as readers and sellers.” And she encouraged authors to work with stores to create memorable experiences for readers, to help them become meaningful promoters of books.
Authors were happy to reciprocate by acknowledging booksellers, who serve as champions for their titles. At the Tuesday author breakfast, Loren Long (An Otis Christmas) said he was grateful to booksellers not only for getting his picture books into the hands of readers, but also for helping shape his books. It was at an event like PNBA, he said, that a table of booksellers helped him title the first of his Otis books.
Booksellers were happy to champion one another’s successes, too. Christy McDanold, owner and children’s buyer at Secret Garden Books, a Seattle mainstay since 1977, heard good news from several bookstores in their first five years of business. She said she believes many stores are succeeding with specialization, among them Seattle’s Mercer Street Books (used), Booklarder (cookbooks), and Ada’s Technical Books. McDanold feels that other stores can tap into that zeal for specialization through offerings like the school book fairs Secret Garden hosts, and by creating a vibrant community space.
Ingram’s Nightcapper event Sunday night introduced several children’s book authors, including Dan Stiles, a prolific artist for rock bands turned board book creator (Put on Your Shoes!) and siblings Chris Bolton and Kyle Bolton, the author-illustrator pair behind graphic novel SMASH: Trial by Fire.
Sue Nevins from Seattle’s Mockingbird Books said graphic novels were among her store’s biggest sellers. She, along with children’s buyers Tegan Tigani of Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle; Billie Bloebaum of Powell’s in Portland; Judy Hobbs with Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Wash.; and René Kirkpatrick of Eagle Harbor Books in Bainbridge Island, Wash., shared favorite children’s titles in a Pick of the Lists panel in front of a packed room of booksellers. Though many of the YA novels addressed heavy themes, Kirkpatrick asserted that the difficult content is presented via inspiring stories. One of her favorites, Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seaman, may be about terminally ill kids, she explained, but they fall in love – and it is that joy that permeates.
On the energetic tradeshow floor, Rachel Geiger and Courtney Payne from Chronicle Books enjoyed the good mood and the chance this year to talk to more bookstore staff, rather than just owners. Both women noted the increase in general merchandise and gifts across the board, especially games; Chronicle’s zombie cribbage, they said, is a big seller.
Jesica DeHart, children’s buyer for Book People of Moscow, Idaho, feels great about the store’s two-year transformation under new ownership and was excited about the approaching holidays. She’s noticed a trend in fairytale spinoff stories like those by Tuesday morning’s breakfast author Marissa Meyer, whose first two books in her Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Scarlet, remix Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood respectively. DeHart sees these popular titles as opportunities to encourage kids to read the original fairytales, favorite editions of which she keeps stocked. DeHart also had kind words for Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, a favorite of the kids picks panel. After receiving an enthusiastic recommendation from her rep, DeHart said she stayed up all night to finish to finish the middle-grade fantasy. It is becoming a handsell favorite, she said, and a model of contagious affection for titles passed from reps to booksellers to readers. Next year’s dates: September 26–28 in Tacoma, Wash.