All About SIBA16

Hi Everyone,

As promised in yesterday’s post, here is all the exciting and fascinating details of SIBA16!

SIBA16 is the annual discovery show for Southern Independent Booksellers. It is a chance to attend classes, author panels, book signings and learn what is new in the publishing world. This year, a scholarship was offered for booksellers who have never attended this event. I applied during the summer, knowing full well, that I would never win. Things like this just don’t happen to me. A short while later, Jagger’s cancer diagnosis was given, and life became a blur. Suddenly it was time for the winners to be announced and I couldn’t believe my eyes…

An email appeared in my inbox from the incredible Wanda Jewell, stating a “Congratulations and more details to come…” Really? Say it isn’t so! I couldn’t believe it. This was an absolute honor. How on earth did this happen? Then, my inner mind started. How could I leave my family during a time of need? I have always been one to set aside my life to help my family. (Isn’t this the exact reason, I am now residing in South Carolina!?!) With threats from my Mom and encouragement from my friends, I anxiously accepted. Surely, I would be a misfit; surely, I would get an “Ooops, we’re sorry” email. But alas, September 15th came and my suitcase and I, ended up in the backseat of a car headed to Savannah. The owners of My Sister’s Books and I were on our way to truly discover a world of books!

I cannot even begin to express my gratitude. I have never been to Georgia. My friends were all raving about the scenery and sights, even some literary-inspired destinations. Little did I know, we wouldn’t need to leave the hotel, because the entire place was turned into a reader’s delight! It started Thursday night, when I had the pleasure of meeting fellow scholarship recipients and dining with them, as well as Nicki Leone, from SIBA, and the kind, generous people, Reba and Dave Williams, who gifted us with this delightful opportunity. It was a magical night filled with piano music and great conversations. A big thanks to Reba and Dave Williams, for making this all possible. It was a pleasure to meet Banshion, an actor, Kimberly, a fellow Ravens/South Carolina lady, Elaine, a new bookstore owner with whom we shared many exciting author events together, and Mary, an inspiring new bookstore owner. We learned that night, that everyone at this event was already connected through their love of books. May we all smile and reminisce, whenever we hear a piano’s tune!

Friday, was filled with classes and author panels. Fabulous meals included authors presenting their latest novel or debut book. Touching personal stories were shared, inspiration for creative worlds explored. At one point, we all stood in line, in the lobby waiting for the doors to open, to what can only be described, as every readers’ dream. Authors were everywhere! Sitting at tables waiting to tell you about their book. It was pure bookmania! Every genre and every subject matter was included. From cookbooks and watercolor paintings, to middle grade books and adult thrillers. When I left the room, I realized I had been holding my breath, out of pure enjoyment. I couldn’t wait to get back home to My Sister’s Books, to share all this fabulous new knowledge with fellow reading-addicts! I also got to come meet some of my favorite authors in person. Kristy Woodson Harvey, Ann Ipock and Ridley Pearson were all at this event!!!

Saturday, began the trade show aspect. Two huge rooms filled with publishers and distributors, showing off the new Autumn line-ups. There was a thrilling scavenger hunt, which was just another excuse to go up to each and every single booth, to see what was new in the world of literature. Did you know, Shakespeare tweets now? Yes, a version of The Bard was there taking selfies. More author luncheons and panels, provided the proverbial cherry on top. Moving speeches were given on the state of the world, which left the room speechless, as we all stood and applauded the one and only, Jodi Picoult. The world was still spinning outside of those walls, but inside we were all bonding through the power of books.

Sunday, the event may have been winding down, but the excitement was still through the roof. More authors, books and the conclusion of the trade show. Tragically, some of us were convicted of reading crimes. Yes, I was one who was found guilty of reading five books at a time. What can I say? Guilty as charged! Near the end, several prizes were handed out to various bookstores. Congratulations to all the winners, including Banshion’s bookstore!!! I look forward to hearing how 2017 will be for your store.

The final event of the day, the Moveable Feast, an event that was open to the public. Elaine and I were at the same table almost squealing with excitement, with two other booksellers, a SIBA staff member, and two people who had signed up for the event. These two people turned out to be authors, so our table had the bonus of hearing about two other styles of work. The main event had 19 authors, that moved around the room, visiting as many tables as possible, to share the news of their latest work. It had been described as a literary speed dating set-up, and I guess that is true. Among the ten incredible authors that graced our table with their presence, Mary Alice Monroe, Sharyn McCrumb, and Lianne Moriarty! I promise you, I was hyperventilating from the moment Mary Alice Monroe sat down, until the time I arrived back in SC.

When people asked if I was having a good time, I just kept responding, “This is a dream. It has been amazing!” Yes, I know it seems redundant, but in all seriousness, I had to keep reminding myself that this was truly happening. That this world of books, did exist. I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of it, and there are truly no words for the gratitude in my heart. Being given this opportunity was a complete dream come true! So I want to sincerely thank everyone at SIBA and Reba and Dave Williams, for making this a reality for all of us.

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