First, I’d like to thank the Reba & Dave Scholarship for allowing me to attend SIBA wherein I was able to experience a scene of community and belonging like I’ve never felt before. Second, I’d like to thank the independent booksellers, reps, and authors that are a part of that community, for making me feel entirely welcome, because that’s what my entire experience was. Like stepping into a home of a friend and knowing that no matter what, you belong there. I learned that independent booksellers absolutely do not care about showing vulnerability, that they will always reach down a hand instead of pulling up the ladder.
I had never been to anything like this before, at least definitely not on this scale, that made me more positive than I had been before that this was what I want to spend my life doing. Helping my community connect and grow through the words and worlds of the authors that rely on, and support us the way we support them. That was something I hadn’t expected, or thought about; just how much independent booksellers mean to authors, but after hearing literally every author that spoke bring it up, it’s very much in the forefront of my mind now. A grave responsibility to be sure.
The roundtables were a bit of a conglomeration of my favorite things from SIBA coming together, in that it was where I truly got a good helping of knowledge from those determined to make sure we all succeed. From learning more about Ipage, which I thought I had known a lot about already (I hadn’t even scratched the surface), to learning how to up our display game, I came home with a ton of ideas that I immediately hopped on trying to figure out how to make it all happen, and I’m very excited for it all.
From the panels where I learned how to help make Independent Bookstore day a success, to the authors I chatted with that want to help make our Teen Advisory Council have some pretty cool meetings and events in the future, I’d say I achieved the goals I had going in. I connected with the people I wanted to, the people I didn’t expect to, and I made so many friends and opened up in a way that was incredibly shocking for myself. I explored the exhibition floor mostly on my own and found a ton of arcs to take home and review, and felt entirely comfortable doing it, like I was making an impact of my own. I came home from SIBA that Sunday knowing full well what I was going to be doing and why I was doing it, helping my fellow booksellers bring Bookmarks into a bright future for our community.
~Cat VanOrder, Bookmarks, NC