Saturday, January 30, 2016

#WI11: The 'Kiwi Connection'

Shelf Awareness

"The kiwi connection was almost immediate when I arrived in Denver, Colo., for the 11th annual American Booksellers Association Winter Institute," wrote Booksellers New Zealand CEO Lincoln Gould, adding that he saw signs of "a new norm in American bookselling which became very evident as the days of WI11 unfolded: the resurgence of book sales in the U.S., which began about four years ago, is now being joined by a resurgence of independent bookshop start-ups. Sale and purchase of indie book shops is growing and there is general upsurge in confidence that bricks and mortar bookstores are being seen as an essential foundation for the health of local communities."

Helen Wadsworth (l.) and Kiran Dass
For the third year in a row, Kobo sponsored the attendance of two New Zealand booksellers at the Winter Institute. This year's participants were Helen Wadsworth, the relatively new owner of the Dorothy Butler Children's Shop in Auckland, and Kiran Dass from Unity Books, also in Auckland. Speaking with Shelf Awareness, the pair both said they found the strong focus on localism as well as the high number of young bookstore owners and managers to be very heartening. They were also struck by the sheer number of author events that American indies hold every year--by comparison, visits from major authors are much, much harder to come by in New Zealand. They also mentioned being particularly impressed with the ABFE training session and the emphasis placed on protecting free expression, which is problem in New Zealand, too.
Following WI11, Wadsworth and Dass are working for a week in U.S. stores, Wadsworth in Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., and Dass in Book Soup in West Hollywood. Dass, who is visiting the U.S. for the first time, will then travel to the Bay Area in California and New York City, where she's looking forward to visiting a lot of bookstores.

In his post, Gould noted "one final bit of fun": at the Monday breakfast, the kiwis were "surprised and delighted" when keynote speaker Amy Cuddy used "a full-length video of the All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup final haka to illustrate the value of using body language to empower. So many came up to us afterwards saying, 'Oh I just want to come to your beautiful country.' " [Editor's note: in the 2011 final, New Zealand beat France and won the World Cup!]

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