There is a wonderful convention for independent booksellers, capped at a 500 person attendance, called Winter Institute, created by the American Booksellers Association. This year I was unbelievably fortunate enough to win the inaugural Joe Drabyak Fellowship, sponsored by Workman Publishing (including Algonquin, one of my VERY favorite publishers), that paid all expenses, and I am happy to report that I had an absolute blast!
It's a chance for booksellers from all over the US (and this year, from Norway, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, too) to attend educational sessions, exchange ideas, drink, learn about the state of the industry, meet authors, drink, get free books, network with other booksellers, drink...well, you get the idea. This year, since we met in Washington, DC, we also had the chance to lobby politicians from our state (or in reality, lobbying the interns for the politicians from our state).
The good folks at Workman sponsored a party on the first night, so I made my way there with Nieves and Joan, my two co-workers from the Odyssey who were also in attendance. My first action was to redeem a drink coupon at the bar for a Maker's Mark on the rocks, but very shortly thereafter my second action was to seek out Steven Pace and Craig Popelars, from Workman and Algonquin, respectively, to say thank you in person for my wonderful scholarship. My third course of action was then to search the room for another Emily I'd never met before--Emily from my old alma mater of Lemuria Bookstore, who had also won a scholarship to Wi6. It was all extremely gratifying to greet old friends and make new ones and to reminisce a little about Mississippi, first with Steven and then with Emily.
Coming up: the best publisher dinner party EVER!