Despite past predictions of a decline, independent bookstores remain a thriving and vital part of the publishing marketplace. In fact, between 2009 and 2015, the American Booksellers Association reported 35 percent growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.
Part of Andrews McMeel’s strong publishing success is attributed to the symbiotic relationship built with “indies” over decades. A prime example of this is our sponsorship at Winter Institute 13, the annual conference of more than 600 independent booksellers, publishers and authors hosted by the ABA. This is the eighth year AMU has been a sponsor of the conference, which took place in Memphis in January this year. By sponsoring the conference, we are able to present our upcoming list to representatives from some of the most influential booksellers in that retail channel. These booksellers are the tastemakers of the industry, and books they support often go on to grace on The New York Times bestseller list.
AMU Marketing and Sales representatives took part in a number of informational sessions, including breakfasts with keynote speakers Sarah Jessica Parker, Daniel Pink and Junot Diaz, among others. In speed-dating sessions over two days, they also had the opportunity to introduce featured spring titles, ranging from Sarah Andersen’s third Sarah’s Scribbles collection, Herding Cats, calendars and planners to Amanda Lovelace’s second poetry volume, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. Subsequent focus group sessions provided a lively exchange of ideas, suggestions and information with booksellers as well.
Additional highlights included the Young Professional After Party, with Typewriter Rodeo authors David Fruchter, Sean Petrie and Kari Anne Holt as headliners. The team was met with great enthusiasm as they created custom poems by request for a long line of attendees. The event, called the “highlight of the night” by Bookselling This Week, was a topic of conversation throughout the conference.
Finally, Najwa Zebian (Mind Platter) and Julia Kaye (Super Late Bloomer) were warmly received by booksellers at the Author Reception, one of the most highly anticipated events of the conference. Zebian and Kaye visited with representatives from stores all over the country and signed galleys of their spring titles.