Morgan McComb from The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, KS was one of two recipients of BookExpo's scholarship program that sent two booksellers from each region to the show. Thank you BookExpo for the generous program, and Morgan for the excellent review!
"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."
BookExpo generously sent two booksellers from each region to New York for the 2018 show. In our region, booksellers from The Raven Book Store (Lawrence, KS) and Zenith Bookstore (Duluth, MN) were the lucky recipients.
Here's a review from Beth Burnett, the assistant manager of Zenith.
"Representing Zenith Bookstore, a small local indie bookstore out of Duluth, Minnesota, I had the phenomenal opportunity to travel to NYC for my first Book Expo. Still fairly new in the bookselling world, I had no strong connection with the greater book world nor a solid understanding of it. I was beyond thrilled to hear I would be attending, and even though I was quite nervous to fly into such a big city, I was able to immerse myself in the greater book world with the scholarship and accommodations by ABA & BEA, with the added resource of my mother by my side as a travel partner and an awesome boss, manager, and cohort.
As a first time attendee of Book Expo, I was warned I could be fairly overwhelmed. However, some awesome coworkers and contacts from the Duluth and regional area prepared me for what was to come. Because of this, I was able to appreciate the Book Expo on a much greater level. While everything was memorable and worthwhile, I found the educational sessions the most helpful in learning about different aspects of bookselling, which I'm sure will help in the continued success of our store. In addition, I connected with so many incredible booksellers.
In all, I found the experience of getting together with other booksellers, librarians, publishers, authors, and representatives incredibly impactful while I establish my own role in the industry. I am so appreciative of many individuals; Book Expo gave me a plethora of valuable connections and allowed me to bring back ideas and tools to help our store continue in its success."