The EUREKAsiba Talks, a new educational event designed for members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), featured short talks by booksellers, industry professionals, and authors on educational topics.
SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell said the event, held at the Embassy Suites in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, February 20, was inspired by the hyper-successful TED Talks video series. Lasting from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., the event featured talks on topics such as design, marketing, social media, branding, writing and creativity, setting and achieving business goals, and self-published authors, for an audience of 38 member and non-member booksellers.
“It seemed like it would be too complicated to do a TED-style event, so I started looking online and it turns out there’s lots of things like TED out there. Then I had the idea to just do my own thing, but it’s really something that anybody in the industry could do,” said Jewell.
To avoid confusion, Jewell presented the new event as part of SIBA’s annual springtime programming, known as SIBA in the Springtime, using the tagline: “EUREKASIBA: A cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something during the SIBA EUREKA Talks.”
The day’s schedule featured a number of talks, including:
- “Take Your Social Media to the Next Level” by Sarah Benoit of JB Media Group
- “What Books and Other Objects Tell” by Elaine Neil Orr, author of Swimming Between Worlds (New American Library)
- “The Strange Kindness of Booksellers” by Brian Lampkin, owner of Scuppernong Books
- “The Dance With the Devil: Adversity and Creativity” by Radney Foster, songwriter and author of For You to See the Stars (Working Title Farm)
- “Is Profit a Dirty Word?” by Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction
- “Does Place Still Matter? Three Ways to Write Southern Today” by Kim Wright, author of Last Ride to Graceland (Gallery Books)
- “Sensual Marketing: Creating Intimacy Through Storytelling” by Gwyn Ridenhour of Matchbook Marketing
- “Little Bookstore: Big Mouth” by Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore
- “The Beauty and the Badass: Origins of the Hero-Princess Archetype” by Geanna Culbertson, author of The Crisanta Knight series (BQB Publishing)
- “A Self-Published Author Walks Into Your Store…What Do You Do?” by Gordon McClellan, founder of the DartFrog publishing service
- “Be-Do-Have = Do More! Goal setting for Lifestyle Change” by musician Eddie Heinzelman
After each 18-minute talk, participants formed groups to share and reflect for a 10- to 15-minute debrief session. “Booksellers and presenters had ample time in between presentations to ask questions of the presenter and each other, share ideas, and dig deeper,” said Linda-Marie Barrett, SIBA’s assistant executive director. “The downtime also provided an opportunity to stretch, decompress, grab a beverage and a snack, and get ready for the next topic.”
The talks concluded with a final debrief session, or salon gathering, featuring groups of six to eight participants. “At the final debrief, booksellers went through the whole day and shared with each other what the takeaways were for them, what they thought they could do right away when they got back to their stores, and what sort of ‘eureka’ moments they had during the day that will make things better for them back at work,” said Jewell.
The day ended with a happy hour and author reception modeled on the one at ABA’s Winter Institute, and a dinner with all 12 participating authors. For use throughout the day, SIBA also designed a colorful 8.5” by 11” program featuring the event schedule, presenter bios and session descriptions, and a list of sponsors, as well as space for booksellers to take notes during the sessions. During the day, booksellers were also allowed to visit the galley room featuring books from participating authors.
Kimberly Daniels Taws, owner of The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina, told Bookselling This Week that EUREKAsiba was a hit from the start.
“The setup of short TED-like talks with ample bookseller reaction time gave everyone insightful ideas and the time to process them,” she said. “The goal of EUREKAsiba is to be small and impactful, and I loved the closeness and actionable ideas that came from the event.”
BrocheAroe Fabian, a bookseller and publicity assistant at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina, was there to give a talk titled “Literary Bridges: Action-Focused Multicultural Inclusion Tactics for Bookstores and Booksellers.”
“EUREKAsiba was a brilliant idea for a number of reasons,” she told Bookselling This Week. “It was an intriguing format — as people self-selected their topic areas to present, the audience was treated to a manageable amount of in-depth information about someone’s area of expertise,”
SIBA also videotaped all of the sessions, which will soon be posted on the SIBA Vimeo channel. All PowerPoints, videos, and handouts will also be available online for anyone who could not make it.
Jewell said booksellers are welcome to adapt and use the EUREKAsiba model for an event at their stores.
“If I were a bookstore doing it, I would tie it to books and see what people were interested in and try to build the day around that. I would not do a topic that I couldn’t connect a book to,” she said. “I would try to get a couple of local authors involved and then maybe have an anchor author come from out of town to close the day.”
Booksellers might also decide to seek out notable people from the community to talk to customers about the books that changed their lives. Overall, said Jewell, the success of the event will depend on the content of the talks.
“I built a day that I would want to attend with talks about things that I wanted to hear about, and I think that was the secret sauce,” she said. “I was excited about going and it turns out a lot of people were, too. I can’t wait to do it again.”