This past week Dianne and I got to attend the Hachette-NAIBA Open House in Manhattan. Peggy wasn’t able to attend since she was on vacation that had been planned for quite some time. There were many other independent booksellers in attendance from the region and it was helpful to hear their concerns, as well as what they felt was working for them to succeed. Naturally, the elephant in the room was what has been played out in the papers between Amazon and Hachette. CEO Michael Pietsch didn’t go into any great detail, which was understandable, but he did say, “I can’t say a lot, but one thing I learned very powerfully during the course of this is that when times are hard, you learn who your friends are. And indie booksellers are definitely our friends. What I want to say most of all is thank you, for every iota of support from booksellers, every display, every tweet.” Once Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine opens, we are determined to be a part of this supportive team.
Meeting the Editors
As a writer myself, it was delightful to hear from editors and what books they are excited about within the upcoming months. Little, Brown and Company Editor-in-Chief Judy Clain told us during what they called “speed-dating lunch” about Her by Harriet Lane and Altruism by Matthiew Ricard, but she also asked what we were reading. Emily Griffin, Senior Editor for Grand Central Publishing, was enthusiastic about the November publication of Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking. Okay, so I admit to not knowing just who this author is and never heard of the Dresden Dolls, her rock/punk/cabaret group, but her book is garnering attention on its own and not just because she happens to be married to Neil Gaiman, who joined her and the rest of us for a lovely dinner at Maloney & Porcelli, but because it’s a topic that will be discussed by many, especially since Palmer was so successful with crowdfunding. (I wish I had this book when we were doing our own IndieGoGo campaign to raise start-up funds for our bookstore.)
I couldn’t help but grab a galley for Neverhome by Laird Hunt after Josh Kendall, Editorial Director & Executive Editor for Mulholland Books, shared his excitement about this captivating story with raves from Paul Auster and Kevin Powers.
During the speed-dating lunch we learned about a new imprint appropriately called Hachette Books from a relatively new member of the Hachette team. Paul Whitlatch was previously at Scribner and is thrilled with the titles he is bringing to the table; one is Melissa de la Cruz’s Vampires of Manhattan.
Meeting the Authors
What followed lunch was an opportunity to hear Amanda Palmer, Maureen Corrigan, Melissa de la Cruz, Wendy Mass and Christopher Scotton discuss their forthcoming books and answer questions from the engaged bookselling crowd. However, the morning began with an open forum where backroom and housekeeping issues were discussed with some of the Hachette sales team, including Mike Heuer, executive director of Hachette’s national field force, Linda Paone, executive director of fulfillment, and Evan Schnittman, Hachette’s executive v-p and chief marketing sales officer. I am sure that as we get closer to opening our bookstore, many of the concerns raised will be of the utmost importance, but the discussion did not deter Dianne or me in any way from doubting going forward. Sure, we will run into problems, but it’s nice to know that there are support teams like the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and American Booksellers Association available for help, as well as peers in the bookselling business.
Wining, Dining and a Ukulele
As previously mentioned, we ended the day with dinner, which was in a private room with most of the authors from the day’s event participating and moving from table to table during each new course (from appetizer to dessert) to talk to the booksellers. Dianne had an opportunity to chat with John Leary, who will be our sales representative while I got encouragement from Christopher Scotton, who is not only an author but an entrepreneur. Then, to our delight, everything wrapped up with Amanda Palmer first performing on the piano and then her ukulele while her husband watched in admiration.
Dianne and I then rushed out to catch the train to head back to Long Island. All we kept saying was that we needed to open our bookstore—and fast—so that we could bring these titles and so many others to the community of readers.