Wi4: A Revitalizing Mix of Education, Inspiration & Fun

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Despite a bruised national economy, snow-covered runways and canceled flights, even a virulent flu, last week hundreds of indie booksellers made their way to ABA's Fourth Annual Winter Institute in Salt Lake City for two and a half days of education, peer interaction, and professional rejuvenation.

Bookseller Tova Beiser of Brown University Bookstore spoke for many when she noted that "the Winter Institute was, again, a really good event -- I'm always a big booster of the education opportunities there." And, she added, "there's such a huge plus of having all these booksellers gathered together, where they can all touch base and talk with people in a smaller setting, making contacts and sharing ideas."

Beiser said that panels like "Using Multimedia to Market Your Store," led by Alex Beckstead, the director of the documentary Paperback Dreams, were full of ideas and tips and "made it seem really cool and worth doing." And events such as the keynote panel discussion -- the state of the book industry hosted by Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers, in Madison, Connecticut and featuring editors Morgan Entrekin of Grove/Atlantic; Nan Graham of Scribner; and Robert Miller of HarperStudio -- examined "big-picture" issues and offered stimulating discussion regarding booksellers' evolving role in publishing.

From an in-depth look at the critical Local First/ShopLocal movement to fun tours of acclaimed local bookstores Sam Weller's Books and The King's English, booksellers again said that the Winter Institute provided a unique intellectual boot camp, professional getaway, and reunion weekend.

This week BTW looks at the Pre-Winter Institute Local First Conference and Wi4's opening keynote breakfast on the state of the industry. Watch for more Winter Institute coverage in the weeks to come. But in the meantime, catch up with booksellers' comments on Twitter and checkout our photos of Wi4's many events on Flickr.

Also, don't forget to mark your calendar for Wi5, to be held from Thursday, February 4, through Sunday, February 7, 2010, at the Doubletree San Jose in San Jose, California. Registration for the event and hotel will open in early September. --Dan Cullen, photos by Jeff Wexler