The Heartland Fall Forum is a three-day annual event hosted by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA) and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA) to bring bookstore owners, publishers, and authors together. This year it was held in Cleveland, Ohio. Guests stayed in the Renaissance Hotel, a historic hotel with lovely architectural features, tasteful decorating, and spacious hotel rooms.
Day one’s agenda included book awards, an opening reception, and a gathering at Loganberry, a new/used bookstore. The smell of books greeted us as we entered the bookstore. My eyes were immediately drawn to a lovely antique wooden bookshelf with its arches and decorative trim. The store provided food, drink, and music as we wandered through its many rooms. One room, the Sanctuary, contained antique books safely enclosed behind glass. There was always someone standing nearby to help you locate a particular book or unlock its protective case.
MIBA and GLIBA conducted their membership meetings while attendees enjoy a breakfast to begin the second day. Everyone listened to the speaker at the Marquee Author Event. This year we enjoyed an entertaining lecture by Ruta Sepetys. The remainder of the day encompassed three seminars, lunch, the opening of the trade show floor, and a tasting notes dinner with recognized authors speaking. The evening entertainment, if you chose to test your literary skill, was to participate in a quiz bowl.
The final day began with a children’s author breakfast, followed by the open trade show floor, and author book signings. The movable feast included a lovely lunch with tables visited by many authors all pitching their book. The conference concluded with a marquee author event featuring Emma Straub.
Overall, the conference was quite nice and well organized. It is always a pleasure to make connections with other booksellers, publishers, and authors. We met many first-time bookstore owners too.
What I would like to see improved in the conference?
- The class on Edelweiss for Beginners may work better as a walkthrough/workshop. Ex: Go to this page, click on this, etc.
- Since the speaker for the Economics of Publishing and How They Impact Booksellers could not attend because of flight issues, a repeat of this seminar would be nice.
- Round Tables – description for each round table would helpful. The roundtable with bookstore owners offering ideas and suggestions of what works best in their store, what doesn’t, and solutions is most helpful and should be offered again.
- We attend this conference to focus on bookselling and the business of bookselling. One speaker made a reference to a political issue we are presently experiencing. The last thing we wanted to think about was politics, nor did we appreciate her opinion. It may be wise to advise all lecturers to keep their political opinion to themselves.
- The keynote by Emma Straub could have ended at the completion of her speaking. She was enjoyable and very funny. The questions posed to her by the gentleman were repetitive. She covered the same material in her speech.
The 2019 Heartland Fall Forum was enjoyable and educational. See you in St. Louis, Missouri for the 2020 Heartland Fall Forum!