On missing BookExpo America, and on the new IndieBound

This is the first year since 2002 that I haven’t been at BookExpo America,
the massive annual convention for the book industry. I like going, not
so much for the mobs of people and the free books and the "scene"
(which are all overwhelming) as for the people and the ideas. There are
many people I don’t see elsewhere that I won’t be visiting with this
year.

The convention opens today in Los Angeles, and I’m at my desk in my basement office, just as if today was a normal day.

The massive computer problems I’ve had this year ate up both my
time and any cash I might have diverted to pay for the trip. I usually
find a local hostel
to stay in, so the big-ticket items are airfare and the pre-BEA
educational gatherings sponsored by what used to be PMA and is now,
more appropriately, The Independent Book Publishers Association.
So it’s a lot less expensive trip for me than for many attendees, but
still out of reach this year. I need to be here working on the book
that will be published in October (Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland, by Donna Druchunas).

Nonetheless, I can read about what’s happening at BookExpo.

This morning, Bookselling This Week,
which arrives in my inbox on a more regular basis than I have time to
keep up with, let me know that the American Booksellers Association has
announced a new program called IndieBound, connecting independent
booksellers to the "live locally" movement. Here’s the gist of what
they said about it:

  • "Following a year of study and planning, ABA designed
    IndieBound to tap into the growing national localism movement, with
    fresh ways for independent booksellers and other independent businesses
    to better convey their core strengths
    —independence, passion, community—to customers. A community-based
    website, IndieBound.org,
    has launched today as well, and will serve as the gateway for the
    entire indie community, with access to The Declaration of IndieBound
    manifesto, book-related related content, and more functionality planned
    for the coming weeks and months."
  • "The program is designed to unite booksellers, readers, indie
    retailers, local business alliances, and others in support of local
    activism and local economies and to lead an Independent Revolution."

Anything that brings independents together is a good thing. It’s too
easy for any independent business to feel like it’s the only one
swimming against the corporate tide, and sometimes our arms get tired
and we want to rest for a while, but if we do that we’ll end up being
swept out to sea and drowned.

The project’s website talks about the title and focus of the endeavor:

  • "Each page of a book carries something totally incredible and unique,
    but when they are all brought together, they build something infinitely
    greater."

And here’s a quote from a bookstore owner about the project:

  • "An integral part of IndieBound’s purpose, to bring together
    local businesses of all stripes, is what appeals to Kelly Justice of
    the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia. ‘The most exciting thing
    to me about IndieBound is being able to officially partner with my
    neighbor businesses in our pride and passion for the city of Richmond
    and the things that make it unique. . . . [T]his flexible, modular
    revolution allows me to focus on relationships with my fellow merchants
    and customers. . . . I’m ready to save the day in my hometown! Are you?"

I think, in lieu of a trip to BookExpo this year, I might splurge on a t-shirt. But which one?

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One Response

  1. Leslie

    I’ve recently run across a professor who has studied the carbon impact of ordering books online versus buying books locally. The only time it makes sense to buy online is if you live in a rural setting. Otherwise, when accounting for the packaging, transpo., etc. ordering online leaves a much bigger carbon footprint.

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