At BEA, a group of ABA booksellers got together with National Sales Manager Heidi Weiland of Sourcebooks to talk about creating amazing store events. These expert booksellers provided insight into creating great events around authors, themes, holidays, or other special occasions targeting young readers.
Panelists Becky Anderson (Anderson’s Bookshop), Cynthia Compton (4 Kids Books and Toys), Meghan Dietsche Goel (BookPeople), and Valerie Koehler (Blue Willow Bookshop) have been running children’s events for years and shared the benefit of their knowledge with the bookseller audience:
- The stores that have many successful events today started out with no success stories and had to build up their event program. It can take years, but you have to keep doing the work.
- Local connections are key with PTA and PTO organizations, service groups, mom’s groups, or whatever is in your community. The key is to connect with these organizations and partner with them to create all types of successful events.
- Working with local authors is crucial. This can be done through launch parties, school events, and community outreach and can grow to a national presence for the author. The local indie bookseller can then provide books for those events.
- All bookstores start from a place of fear that they will do everything right for an event but no one will show up. Everyone has had this experience—you just have to keep moving forward.
Ultimately, there are no silver bullets to creating a great event, but lots of local connections really help. Events are a lot of work, but as you continue to create amazing experiences for your customers, you will see your reputation, your knowledge, and the success of your events continue to grow.
Publishers Weekly also did a great writeup of the panel, which you can check out here.