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Our books matter: Takeaways from BEA

Every year, thousands of publishing professionals, booksellers, librarians, readers, authors, and unabashed book enthusiasts gather for Book Expo America. It’s an opportunity to learn about new books and trends in publishing, to gather as many galleys as you can fit in your luggage, and for me, to sell Island Press books.

For an Island Press book to arrive on the shelves of your favorite indie bookstore, we rely on our sales representative groups. Our reps have the enviable job of traveling to different independent bookstores in their regions and telling them about the upcoming books from a variety of publishers. BEA was a chance for me to meet with many of our rep groups and pitch our books.

"We ranged from high level discussions of climate change and policy to fun stories about using bike share."

Of course, a discussion about Island Press books is never just about books. While I started off with my description of Water is For Fighting Over to our California and Southwest reps, we ended with a discussion of successes they’ve seen personally in water conservation in their communities. And of course, many discussions of Baylen Linnekin’s Biting the Hands That Feed Us ended with everyone sharing personal stories of contradictions they’ve experienced in the food system. We ranged from high level discussions of climate change and policy to fun stories about using bike share.

It was especially gratifying to hear feedback from the people who are often on the ground selling our books. One rep said, “It’s such a joy to sell your books—they’re real books. They matter.”