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A day in New Orleans with Michael Murphy by Broche Fabian, Quail Ridge Books & Music

Posted By Broche Fabian, Quail Ridge Books, Monday, October 30, 2017

A full month after returning from the SIBA Discovery tradeshow, I have yet to send Michael Murphy a thank you card for the infamous "three-hour tour" he gave my coworker, Lizzy, and myself in New Orleans in September. Last week, I opened a ShelfAwareness newsletter to find out it's too late to send him a thank you card now, forever.

When Lizzy and I were writing up our proposals to attend SIBA, I marveled at the idea of a SIBA Concierge. The notice in the trade show schedule read:

9 - 6 On Site Concierge Services - Grand Ballroom Foyer
Michael Murphy, former VP with Random House, then Publisher of William Morrow, has been a resident of and enthusiast for New Orleans the last 10 years. He is a licensed tour guide and has written five books about his beloved home. Michael is available to suggest and/or reserve restaurants, music venues, out-of-the-way, non-touristy spots to visit, as well as emergency needs like dry-cleaning, masseuse, child care, etc.

My understanding of concierge services comes from reading books about people who can afford a level of sophistication far above my budget. In my experience, one might "know a guy" who can fix your car for cheap or get you a discount cell phone, and though I'm a world traveler, the amenities at the places I stay usually begin and end with replacing a forgotten toothbrush. That said, it was my first trip to New Orleans, Lizzy and I had a free half-day on either end of our conference schedule, and perhaps it would be nice to get some suggestions from a "resident…and enthusiast." So we emailed for "any direction you can give us."

"First thing to embrace: the right attitude. Great Cajun Chef, Paul Prudhomme, whom died last fall, uttered the perfect quote, "New Orleans will nudge you in the direction you were meant to go." In other words, don't come with a bucket list. Don't over script your days here. Just let New Orleans wash over you."

NOLA Art MuseumThose were some of Michael's first words in response to our humble inquiry. At Michael's suggestion, we toured City Park, the Botanical Gardens, and the New Orleans Museum of Art (the last two being free for residents on Wednesdays, which we pretended to be). We briefly walked Bourbon Street one afternoon, but agreed with Michael's assessment, even during the day:

"P.S.  DO NOT go to Bourbon Street. It smells awful. Most of the music is cover bands doing Journey and Foreigner decades old hits. People there act like they just turned 18 and can finally drink legally. Hope this helps."

Later, Michael told us that one of the reasons Bourbon Street smells so awful is that they started street renovation projects, only to realize that the entire pipe system beneath the French Quarter needed to be redone, as it was seeping sewage and rancid oil and everything else that had been poured down those pipes for generations. Due to a big upcoming event of some kind (sorry, Michael, I don't remember which), it was decided that the construction would hold until after that event, at which point the streets would be dug up, pipes replaced, and the smell would go back to its normal liquor, piss, and vomit, instead of the added pipe sewage stench. Now how else would Lizzy and I have found that out, if not to tour with Michael? Or about the house Johnny Depp almost purchased but was outbid by a Chinese bank owner, or the well-known haunted house where two evil scientists had performed horrible experiments on their slaves, or where the "real voodoo shops" in town were?

Botanical Gardens

We heard all of this and more during the private tour we had with Michael before we left New Orleans on Monday. Catching a ride from the airport to the hotel when we had arrived had cost us almost $40. As Michael informed us, "Generally, tour guides cost $10 per hour per person but I operate under the guideline that you pay whatever you want. Seriously." After a quick cost-benefit analysis, Lizzy and I determined that if Michael didn't mind dropping us off at the airport at the end of the tour, we would rather splurge and pay a few dollars more than a Lyft ride for the added benefit of local history and insider knowledge. We have no regrets.

In an email with the subject line, "Monday Monday, Don't Trust That Day," Michael confirmed he would pick us up at our AirBnB –

"How'd you choose that location? You are perfectly safe…don't worry at all…but it's kind of funky…Aren't you staring at a warehouse out the front window? I'll be there at 11:30."

 – and would take us on a whirlwind tour before dropping us at the airport.

When we queried about lunch options: "We have 1,420 restaurants," he informed us. "You have (too) many choices."

BacchanalWe decided on Bacchanal ("Bywater. You sit outdoors, a block from the Mississippi, with live music."), a restaurant that had been on an extensive and frankly overwhelming list of suggestions Lizzy and I had compiled from friends' recommendations prior to going. Michael had mentioned it in a helpful email of "relatively inexpensive" places open for lunch on Mondays, and after we chose it, I was impressed when he wrote,

"I just checked the schedule. On Monday, the Tangier's Combo (they play gypsy jazz), perform while you eat from noon to three. I can pick you up at 11:30, get there by 12:00, eat an un-rushed lunch (their bacon wrapped dates are fairly awesome) and get touring around 1:00."

Even knowing the budget Lizzy and I were on, knowing we wouldn't be among the high-rollers he'd mentioned he'd guided around New Orleans (*cough*Sofia-Vergara-and-Joe-Manganiello*cough*), he still did his due diligence in terms of who would be playing Monday lunch at Bacchanal.

Lafayette CemeteryHe picked us up that Monday ("I look like an overweight Confederate general. White beard. White-ish hair. 5'10" tall and let's never talk about my weight.") and from the Garden District to Lafayette Cemetery, Michael gave us what was truly the most charming, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable tour I've ever experienced in any part of the world (which includes places like Japan and New Zealand). The day before he had "bang(ed) out Garden District tours at 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00…Not my preference… by the 5th tour I feel like Tom Jones singing What's New Pussycat... one....more.... time," yet sitting in the back seat while listening to his stories, it felt like he was relating them for the very first time. Michael shook the hands of other tour guides we ran across, regaled us with tales from his publishing days, and gave us a sneak preview of what travel guide he was working on next. His smile when he dropped us off at the airport – with a reminder that a second Dooky Chase was located there ("Dooky Chase in Treme has great history and a great 93-year-old owner/chef, Leah Chase. She remains sharp as a tack and famously chastised President Obama a few years back because he started to put hot sauce in her gumbo. Don't mess with her recipes.") – was as warm as if he'd enveloped us in a hug.

Lizzy and I ate po'boys at Dooky Chase and remarked that the half day spent with Michael was the perfect ending to our time in New Orleans. We went home, and I starred his last email in my inbox to remind myself to send him a thank you card. Now, I'm wrapping myself in that smile again while listening to the Tangier's Combo CD I bought that Monday with Michael, after we licked our fingers from enjoying those bacon-wrapped dates. New Orleans, SIBA, and the entire book industry lost one of its brightest characters on October 19th, and Michael, I hope it's not too late to reiterate, thank you.

Tags:  #siba17  new orleans 

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Making plans for NOLA and the #SIBA17 Discovery Show: Foretelling the Future of the Book

Posted By Nicki Leone, Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hello, dearest and most beloved booksellers,

More wildly, vastly important and timely news from the land of SIBA!


  1. #SIBA17 education tracks
  2. Fall Okra Pick nominations are due
  3. Scholarships are still available for the Discovery Show

The #SIBA17 Discovery Show#SIBA17 NEWS

  1. September 1 is the deadline to register for the Discovery Show.
    After Sep. 1, there is a $75 late registration fee.  We have a full schedule packed with exhibitors, writers, education and more fun that is allowed at most shows across the country!

    Register here|Your username to login is @@username@@

  2. FYI, Sep. 1 is also the deadline to nominate Fall Okra Picks.
    It seems that nearly 100% of booksellers are in love with the new bookmarks.  You can thank new assistant director Linda-Marie Barrett for that.  It never pays to get to married to an idea.  We will soon be creating a new set of bookmarks for books published in OCT – DEC, 2017.  Submit your nominations.

  3. There are 2, TWO, count them, 2, more Discovery Show Scholarships.
    Thanks to The Reba and Dave Williams Foundation, we have been able to send 50+ booksellers to the SIBA Discovery Show over the last five years, and this year is no exception.  We still have two unclaimed scholarships from Reba & Dave.  Find the details here.

  4. Last Call to participate in the Southern Book Prize Winners Table Display:
    We only have one store signed up.  Don't make it so easy for them to take home the $1000.  The idea is simple enough but if we can't drum up more participation than we have since its inception, this will be the last year we will offer this opportunity.  We provide the table.  You bring the display.  The display must be of one, some, or all of the winners. Email Wanda if you want to participate.

  5. Exciting News – Inaugural 2018 Conroy Legacy Award Winner
    Booksellers have chosen the first Conroy Legacy Award Winner, and if that is not exciting enough, the winner is going to be at the #SIBA17 Discovery Show, and is coming for the whole weekend.  We are so excited to have our first Conroy Legacy Award Winner celebrating with us in the city of celebrations.  You don't want to miss this!

Is your membership current?
Your name: @@first_name@@ @@last_name@@
Your store: @@employer@@
Your member type (store/staff): @@member_type@@
Your membership expiration: @@membership_exp_date@@ *

**if your member type says "staff" then your expiration date is whenever your bookstore's membership expires.

Renew here | Booksellers Benefits Package

Tags:  #siba17  okra picks 

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A Letter from SIBA President Doug Robinson

Posted By Nicki Leone, Friday, April 7, 2017

Doug RobinsonDear SIBA members & stakeholders,

Early last month we had a wonderful day "Writing the Future of The Discovery Show" at SIBA in the Springtime!  We appreciate so much everyone who came (about 45 of you) and contributed time and thought to SIBA's future.  We learned a lot.

Your Board members plus Jamie Fiocco and Kelly Justice took many notes and here are some of the things we learned.

First, The Discovery Show is well-loved, and well-received by our industry.  The major sentiment was much of what we offer, and when we offer it, is just what booksellers and exhibitors want.  We will benefit from the many new ideas for education & experiences at the Discovery Show and look forward to implementing many of the suggestions.  The main change is to consider the weekdays for the show rather than the weekend.  Otherwise, the fall is preferable to other seasons, and moving around the south seems to be a favorite as well.  Some of the ideas we can initiate right away include:

  • finding a way for exhibitors to meet new booksellers they might not know
  • promote in-booth signings
  • make it easier to recognize sales reps. 

Please continue to share any ideas or thoughts you have as to how we can improve.  You can reach out to any Board Member or to our Executive Director.

In one of my first duties as your president, I have turned over the care and feeding of SIBA’s Advisory Council (AC) to new board member Kimberly Daniels.  The AC is a function of the SIBA Board of Directors and the obligations are to meet for an hour at the Discovery Show and have several (VERY SHORT) conference calls throughout the year. The board uses the AC as a sounding board and a place to get initial feedback regarding various SIBA and bookstore related ideas and issues. The AC is a two-year commitment.

If you are interested in serving, or have any questions, please email with the subject line OPEN CALL-ADVISORY (please note that there are two ds in the email address). 

Sincerely, your SIBA President,

Doug Robinson
Eagle Eye Book Shop Owner
Decatur, GA


Tags:  #siba17  siba advisory council 

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Call for Board Nominations, Southern Book Prize Ballot: News you can use from the Land of SIBA!

Posted By Nicki Leone, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hello, dearest and most beloved booksellers.

It's that time again....time for oh so many things! Nominations for the Board, voting on the Southern Book Prize, Okra Picks info, and so much more.  Read on, read everything!


  1. SIBA has an app. For real! Download the "SocialLink" app from your Apple or Google Play store
  2. Call for Board Nominations
  3. The Southern Book Prize Loooong List Ballot is open. And the Conroy Legacy Award is seeking nominations
  4. There is now a resource page for the Spring Okra Picks
  5. There is a now a downloadable flyer of monthly staff picks from SIBA Bookstores.
  6. Registration is open for #SIBA17 in the Big Easy
  7. Introducing IndieCommerce Lite


Yes, that's right, SIBA is now has an app! Available for iPhone and Android, SIBA's new "SocialLink" app allows you to check in to the SIBA member hub and your account from your phone or mobile device. Most of the news you see below will also appear in your "feed." In the future, SIBA will be posting important news to the app feed on a regular basis, so having it will give you an early heads up to important or just plain useful news.

Search for "SocialLink" in the Apple or Google Play store.

Once you've installed the app, log in to start viewing your feed and notices. Your account information is:

Username: @@username@@
Email: @@email@@
Company: @@employer@@
Your membership expires: @@membership_exp_date@@

You should also be able to set your account so you can log in with Facebook. Email if you have any problems.


It’s that time again to pick the bookseller leaders that will move SIBA forward. SIBA’s Board Members are a hard‐working bunch. Serving on the SIBA Board is both rewarding and enlightening. Consider someone today for a board position. Self‐nominations are encouraged. Anyone can nominate here:

Nominations close April 15.


The Southern Book Prize Loooong List has just been announced. Now it is time for booksellers to vote for the finalists. The ballot is open to all SIBA member core booksellers -- stores and store staff! Your store earns 2 b3! points for each ballot cast.

Go here to vote:

You need to be a current SIBA member bookstore/bookseller to vote.

If you have store staff not in SIBA's records that you would like added, email Each staff member must have their own unique email address.

The ballot closes April 3rd.

Remember also to nominate for the Conroy Legacy Award. The Conroy Legacy Award recognizes writers who have achieved a lasting impact on their literary community. Recipients will have shown the following attributes:

  1. They support independent bookstores, both in their own communities and in general.
  2. Their writing focuses significantly on their own home place.
  3. They support other writers in their community, especially new and emerging authors.

The Conroy Legacy Award is given to one writer in SIBA territory annually. A juried panel of member booksellers will choose among our Southern writers to determine the year’s winner.

Nominate an author here

Booksellers Benefits packageSPRING OKRA PICKS RESOURCE PAGE

the 2017 Spring Okra Picks will be announced April 1, but SIBA booksellers can have a sneak peak. We've collected some helpful resources for all the Okra titles to make it easier for you to sell all these fanstastic books:



You've probably seen the header at the top of this and the Lady Banks emails, but have you clicked? SIBA collates store staff picks and recommendations for the Lady Banks newsletter and You can see the list here:

Fully sortable and searchable and linked back to the store that made the recommendation.

There is also now a monthly print out of new recommendations stores can download for a quirky, unpredictable reading list. A great resource for book clubs, educators and hard to please customers!


It's never too early to register!
SIBA returns to the Big Easy this coming September for the #siba17 Discovery Show. We'll be at the Sheraton New Orleans, right on Canal Street, the same hotel we were in the last time we visited NOLA in 2013.

And a word to the wise -- New Orleans, like Savannah, is a popular destination. We had sellout crowds in 2013 and expect the same this year. Meal tickets, especially, went very quickly. So make your travel plans early:

Tags:  #siba17  board  okra picks  read this!  sociallink  southern book prize 

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