There are about seven regional booksellers associations in the United States. We're sort of on the border between two. Wisconsin is more officially in the Midwest Booksellers Association, but Chicago (where I know more booksellers) gravitates towards the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Assocation. Contining the Schwartz tradition of indecision about these things, I decided that Boswell would continue to belong to both (because it's not that expensive).
Lanora at Next Chapter spoke on a panel at MBA the previous week, and wrote up a nice trip to Twin Cities bookstores on her blog. My only true bookstore visit was a stop in Nicola's for a gift card for the wedding party. I heard Nicola explain to a customer why Peony in Love was more enjoyable to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (I never read the former, but just assumed it didn't measure up--mea culpa) and then she gave me a primer in slash fiction, a subgenre of fan fiction where the author brings together characters in same-sex relationships. Harper is publishing Pride/Prejudice next winter.
Alas, some travel delays and a bad time through Chicago forced us to miss the author cocktail party and Friday night dinner featuring Dan Chaon (Await Your Reply). We're selling Chaon's novel pretty well and should be able to do better. I hoped to pick up another selling handle after listening to his speech (but also wondered how much he'd repeat from his pre-pub dinner in Chicago. I woudn't blame him--that's a lot of speeching). But I can only imagine what it was like, or at least cruise the internet for other bookseller blogs.
So we arrived in Cleveland about four hours late. We stayed at the Radisson down the block --this seems to be a habit with me of late. I had a little confusion with the official Renaissance Hotel and they were sold out of rooms at the good rate. Of course Joan at GLIBA fixed it but momentum was not on her side at that point. Kirk and I arrived for drinks at the bar, where we chatted with booksellers and publishing folk. It was nice to see Miles from Nowhere's Nami Mun (we hosted her last week) and I introduced her to some booksellers she hadn't met. Then I spoke to Wendy from Simon and Schuster (an ex-bookseller turned publishing type who just let me read an early advance of an uber-foodie book, Knives at Dawn--more on that closer to pub date) and Bill, the buyer at said Nicola's. They were speaking about blurbs. Bill is down on those write-ups where booksellers simply say "I loved this book" but also warned against too much plot revelation.
I thought back to my experiences at Schwartz, where several booksellers would say little more than "Buy this book" and with the right book, it worked like crazy. I remember revealing just a plot about Katrina Kittle's The Kindness of Strangers and one of the Brookfield booksellers who was selling it like crazy told me I was guilty of TMI. Robert, who recently moved from a more urban store to one with a more suburban setting, noticed these directed recs seemed to work better at his new venue than previously. I don't know the answer to this.
More chatting, a drink, a revelation of my own--I like red wine better than white wine because white wine seems salty to me, and half my GLIBA was over.