Back from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association’s three-day trade show and conference, I pause to reflect that I just did my first author signing, my first author guest panel, and my first “hanging with the tribe at the watering hole” (in this case a swimming pool the size of Big Stone Gap)–and kind of didn’t notice.
It was fun, fresh and breezy, light and airy, and comfortable as a pair of cushioned house-slippers. It felt natural to wander through a ballroom full of books people kept thrusting at me with comments like, “Here, read this, you’ll want it for your bookstore; here, read this, you’ll want to meet the author later.” It seemed completely normal to sit with three other writers and talk about the influence of bookstores on our lives, then go sit in the bar and have people walk over to say, “Now where’s your bookshop?” instead of “Hey, what’s your sign?” Conversations flowed as easily as red wine–and plenty of that flowed, believe me. Booksellers on expense accounts at a free bar equals brilliant conversations on abundant topics.
In fact, I’ve been to LOTS of artistic events in my lifetime, and seen the prima donnas play (or sing, or tell stories, or dance….) and none were as laid-back or “equinanimous” as this. Five hundred bookslingers–people who write them, people who review them, people who sell them, people who publish them–all hung together, perhaps with a growing awareness that if we don’t, we will be hung out to dry separately by the Amazonian warriors. But it felt good.
Likely blogs in the coming week will be fed by the lively conversations, cheerful friendships, and overall sense of camaraderie that came from attending this event. But for now, suffice it to say that when my husband asked, “How was it?” the word that came to mind, and still seems to sum up the experience, is “comfortable.”