There are stories everywhere at Winter Institute

This is the fifth annual Winter Institute. This year we are in San Jose, CA, next year it will be held in Washington, DC. The American Booksellers hold this fabulous educational event just for independent booksellers every winter. They limit the attendees to 5oo booksellers and it is made possible by book distributors such as Ingram and many great publishers. A full slate of educational opportunities fills our days. These offerings are top notch. We heard a representative from Google talk about the information “cloud”, we heard major publisher CEO’s talk about the future of publishing and the impact of digital print. We participated in roundtables comprised of other bookstore owners and managers talking about best industry practices, favorite books, successful events, economic challenges and we enjoyed the camaraderie of like-minded booksy folk. I have new friends from New Orleans to Vermont, Colorado and Texas. We share many experiences, both hard and good and we can find something in common within 30 seconds of meeting each other. I am tired, but I am totally energized at the same time.

At lunch, we heard Daniel Pink speak about his new book, Drive which is about what movitates us. I reallly like this guy. He is a brilliant sociologist and business consultant who is able to put the cookies on the bottom shelf for me. He is especially good at pointing out common minsconceptions about business practices and leadership. Check out his blog here. I also spent a couple of hours last night in the company of 40 authors who signed their latest books for us, including Brady Udall (very charming) whose previous book, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, contains my very favorite first line of a book, “If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head.” I started Brady’s new book last night, The Lonely Polygamist. It is going to be a great read. I also met Anna Dewdney, author of all the delightful Llama, Llama picture books for kids. I shook hands with Thomas Steinbeck, John Steinbeck’s son who has a new book, In the Shadow of the Cypress. I met Emiy Mandel, author of Last Night in Montreal, who signed her new book, The Singer’s Gun. She is just the cutest thing. And what fun it was to see Heidi Durrow again, whose book The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, is heading for even more success in the coming months.

What a fun job I have. The magnitude of talent with which I’ve been surrounded over the last few days is truly astounding and the potential for many more years of creative output from them is staggering. I didn’t have time, energy or opportunity to meet all of them and I’m sure someday I’ll look back and realize that I was very close to meeting even more best selling authors. Over the years, I’ve met people like Barbara Kingsolver and Garth Stein before they were famous and the thing that stands out most to me is that they are really just ordinary folks like you and me. But they have stories to tell. They wrote their stories down and a lot of other people recognized the value of their stories. It’s reminder to me that we all have stories to tell. Some will write them in books. Others will write them in journals, paint them, sing them, tell them at bedtime. Tell someone part of your story today.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 12:28 am  Leave a Comment