AMP attends ABA’s annual Winter Institute

Andrews McMeel Publishing attended the American Booksellers Association’s 14th annual Winter Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jan. 22–25. The Winter Institute is composed of three days of educational sessions and events for independent booksellers on a variety of topics, as well as appearances by authors and keynote speakers.

A highlight event of the conference, the Author Cocktail Reception, gave booksellers the chance to meet featured authors and receive signed advance copies or galleys of their upcoming titles. AMP’s guest authors, Georgia Dunn (Lupin Leaps In), Komal Kapoor (Unfollowing You) and HSH Prince Alexi Lubomirski (Thank You for My Dreams) delighted booksellers with their wit, charm and delightful demeanor.

In addition, this year’s keynote speakers shared fascinating stories and inspiring insight:

  • Reshma Suajani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, encouraged attendees to be brave rather than perfect.
  • Essayist and poet Hanif Abdurraqib paralleled music sampling to reading, described his intimate and moving experiences in indie bookstores, and read excerpts from his upcoming book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest.
  • Legendary author Margaret Atwood joined in a casual conversation with Erin Morgenstern. Atwood’s wit and wisdom shone through as she discussed highlights (and lowlights) of her career (including early book signings gone awry) and offered a few hints about her upcoming sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, called The Testaments, due in bookstores in September.

A record number of booksellers (700+), publishers (120) and authors (150) and nearly 50 international guests attended this year’s conference. The mood at the meeting’s opening event was upbeat, as ABA CEO Oren Teicher reported that sales at indie bookstores were up nearly 5 percent in 2018, and “the compounded growth in sales amongst America’s indie bookstores has been 7.5 percent.” Adding to this excitement, 100 new independent bookstores opened in 2018.

For AMP, an important part of the conference was the “speed dating” sessions, in which two teams presented a selection of spring titles across categories, including poetry, inspiration, humor and kids, to approximately 200 booksellers. These sessions provide tremendous opportunities to personally showcase some of the titles that AMP is most excited about in the upcoming season. Throughout the show, AMP saw a steady stream of booksellers who were eager to visit with our gracious authors and return home to share the news about their books with their customers.