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SIBA Was…

By Ed Southern

The 2016 SIBA Discovery Show was a success for the NCWN members who had their titles on our display table. Various booksellers picked up at least one sample copy of every title, and some titles were gone by the end of the show.

Here’s hoping that those copies are read, and enjoyed, and those titles are ordered for bookstore shelves across the Southeast.

SIBA was also, for me, a chance to catch up with old friends, to hear and discuss the latest industry news, to find out about the forthcoming books that publishers and booksellers are most eager to see and sell, and to remind myself why I got into the book business in the first place.

At the moment I’m reading Azar Nafisi’s The Republic of the Imagination, a work of memoir-as-literary criticism, which posits the notion that readers and writers hold dual (or, sometimes, triple) citizenships—in their countries of birth or residence, and in “the republic of the imagination,” the great community created by books.

SIBA is one of several events—like the Network’s conferences and residency—that renews my loyalty to, and faith in, this republic every year. The book business is a business, and not one for the faint of heart. Nearly everyone in it, though, got into it because at least one book transported and transformed them, once upon a time.

The week before this year’s SIBA Discovery Show saw the announcement that in 2018, the show will move from its traditional format and September date and join with the Great American Bargain Book Show (GABBS), held each March at the AmericasMart in Atlanta, Georgia.

The show will be much bigger, and, for many, easier to reach. I’m always glad to have another fall weekend free for watching college football, too.

I wonder, though, if a March show will give new books—particularly books from debut authors or small presses—the same pre-holiday buzz that the September show has. Laying aside my sentiment, my many happy memories of SIBAs past, that’s my main concern about this change: Will a March SIBA be as welcoming to the Republic of the Imagination’s newest citizens?