Not yet, really. But I will be going to New York this week for a yearly bookseller's convention. At BEA(Book Expo America) there are lots of things going on. Panels upon panels upon panels covering everything from the new books for Fall to social media(like blogs!) to ways to increase profit by selling a lot of sidelines/bizarre materials in no real way related to a bookstore.
We decided, from the beginning, that we would make it by selling actual books. Not gadgets like head-lamps for reading in bed. Not beanie babies or chewing gum or hand-towels with Shakespeare's face on them*. Not e-books. All of those things have a place in the American marketplace--we know that and do not want to seem snobbish in our regard to them. But books are what we know and love dearly. So I will head to the BIGAPPLE and try to remain focused on our task at hand--namely, getting good and different books into your hands.
So I will ignore the trinkets and madness that can accompany any trade meeting. I will go to meetings and listen to other booksellers talk about what has/has not worked for them. I will get some advance copies of books due in the coming months so we can talk to you about them. I will order more remainder books(discounted and foreign titles) that allow our customers to have some choices that are both cheap and interesting. I will talk to agents, sales reps, publishers, authors and booksellers. I will attend some cocktail parties and do my best at what I do worst--making small-talk. I will walk and walk and walk.
BEA will be different this year. Lots of publishers are scaling back the number of author appearances, parties and the size of their booths--the economy, of course, necessitates that. But I will continue to preach my gospel: the Midwest is not fly-over land. Small bookstores can still matter in a world of Costco's, Target's and a million on-line retailers. We have readers here. Readers who choose to select their own books. Readers who still depend on words printed on paper. Readers who, despite the trends, still read things beyond the national bestseller lists.
I also promise to collect some swag. The first five e-mailers to firstname.lastname@example.org will get some kind of gift I bring back from the convention. It might be a canvas bag. It could be some free books. It could be something I cannot even imagine. Just put free stuff in the subject line of your e-mail. Or call the store and tell them I promised something.
In any case, I'll be back around the 1st of June.