"This year was my inaugural BookExpo experience, and as a new bookseller, I felt so welcomed. The opportunity to meet and talk with other independent booksellers around the country was invaluable, and through them I have learned new ways to push our bookstore in Kansas to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The sheer volume of independent bookstores in the country and their various specialties is a testament to why independent bookstores are not only not in financial trouble, but are thriving--and it is all because so many of us take community engagement as a imperative in the work we do.
One of my most memorable experiences was getting to meet the editors of the Catapult/Soft Skull team, a press that we have long loved and supported at the Raven--getting the opportunity to meet the editors I have been exchanging e-mails and galleys with as well as to see an editorial team that takes representation and literature seriously. What I especially enjoyed was hearing about how publishers like Catapult are also engaging with their communities, both a New York City community and a more national and/or global community through their online writing courses. Being able to see first-hand how the publishing world is evolving was a special experience.
BookExpo itself is an overwhelmingly joyful experience, one where I was able to meet the best up-and-coming writers (Tommy Orange, especially!) and meet new writers and publishers who can help us at the Raven better serve the reading interests of our customers and beyond. Though BookExpo is an excellent opportunity to develop essential professional connections and skills in the bookselling world, it ultimately felt like the largest book club I have ever been a part of, and the magic of why we all love books and literature was certainly still the core of all of our reasons for being there."