>The Southern Independent Booksellers Association holds a trade show every fall. And this year, I was able to spend a few hours there! It’s been a book nerd dream of mine to go for years.

Here’s a little more about SIBA from the web site: SIBA is a trade association which represents over 300 bookstores and thousands of booksellers in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi.

I first looked up SIBA more than 12 years ago when I was trying to figure out how I could do something connected with my passion for books. One of the ideas I explored was becoming a bookseller (bookstore owner). I found SIBA while doing research about what it takes to operate a bookstore – and while I let go of the idea, I never forgot that every year in the south there’s a trade show for booksellers. With publishers giving out information and copies of the season’s upcoming titles.

Because I never became a bookseller, I never pursued going to SIBA. A few weeks ago I decided to see where this year’s trade show would be – and it was scheduled for Daytona Beach, just over an hour’s drive for me. This would be my year – and Wanda Jewell, director of SIBA, graciously reached out and let me know that I could have a press pass.

(Thanks, Wanda!)

So I went up for just a few hours on Saturday. Most of the education events were on Thursday and Friday, but I had commitments that I couldn’t move. (And I missed so many good panels and author talks – not happy about that).

But I made it there in time to hear 2 – the three breakfast speakers on Saturday and to spend a long while walking the exhibitors’ floor.

One of my concerns about going, especially after seeing the agenda, was that there might not be a lot for me to sink my e-teeth into because there were not a lot of African American authors that I recognized on the schedule.

However, on the exhibit floor some of the publishers had titles that will be great to talk about here. And I loved the academic press displays – the latest in history, memoir and cultural texts.

What I also underestimated was how much food culture is represented at the trade show. But of course the South is very food-centric. And I think about food probably more than I should – but at least now I’m thinking more and more about fresh, vegan food – lots of interesting titles, including Raw Foods (W.W. Norton).

And there were so many children’s titles – I love seeing what the new titles are for kids and thinking about how the young people in my world will receive them.

I’ll be writing about SIBA most of this week – too much to unpack tonight. But I am so glad that I went – I connected with book people, found titles that I can’t wait to read, and was able to fully engage in the book world. I always love doing that.

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