Winter Institute 2020

Last week, I attended ABA’s 2020 Winter Institute. It’s an annual conference for booksellers and publishers to interact and meet. ABA is the American Booksellers Association.

This was the conference’s 15th year and the biggest turn out yet. Over 700 booksellers, 140 authors, and 160 publishers convened in Baltimore for 4 days of panels, sessions, and book signings.

This was my first time attending the Winter Institute. In June, I went to the the children/young adult version in Pittsburgh.


The three of us left at 4:30 am. I needed to be there so I could go on a tour and my co-worker needed to be there so she could attend an Anti-Trust Symposium in Washington, DC.


I toured Penguin-RandomHouse’s warehouse. It was amazing. One of the managers is a plastic pony collector so we fangirled over books and Breyers. The two most important things. We were asked to not take pictures of the actual warehouse. But I’ve never seen so many books before.


The first night we went to two parties. The first was a welcome one. The second party was romance themed and hosted by Harper. It was nice to attend a party that surrounded romances in multiple genres. I met all of the present authors and had books signed.


Throughout the whole conference there were various signing parties.


The galley room opened after breakfast on Wednesday. OMG. THERE WERE SO MANY BOOKS. The galley room was full of finished and unfinished copies of books that the publishers wanted industry professionals to see. And see them we did.


Lunch over the course of the conference meant meeting with various publishing houses and being pitched their upcoming releases.


The sessions and panels ranged from podcasting to historical figures. One such panel was about Black booksellers in the 1960s. The FBI wrote thousands of pages about them because they encouraged reading, their community’s engagement, and Civil Rights. Oh the horror. Their stories were powerful.


I watched an incredible panel with Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi about their collaboration called Stamped. It’s the young adult version of Kendi’s nonfiction book called Stamped From The Beginning. Stamped is one of my most anticipated reads of the year.


I was invited to a small dinner hosted by Disney publishing managers and some of their authors. One dessert was a cake made from the cover of Brandy Colbert’s The Voting Booth which is coming out later this year.


I came home with some amazing books. One afternoon I meandered around in the galley room and ran into an article writer for ABA’s website. I was quoted in their Winter Institute article about my feelings about the conference.


We woke up on Saturday to rain. It continued until we reached Pennsylvania. The four days of being surrounded by so many awesome people was over. However in no way did we come home empty handed. The minivan was filled with books–the majority of them being ARCs. ARCs are advance reader copies that publishers distribute to booksellers, reviewers, and influencers to create buzz for upcoming books. So I have a lot of reading to do!


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