Firstly, let me express again my thanks to the IOBA scholarship committee and to the membership at large for their support with the scholarship that I received. As Mike alluded to, CABS benefits the entire trade, not just the people who attend. Mike put it very elegantly when he talked about the “vibrant, vital ecosystem” that is the bookselling trade, and CABS does a great deal to foster and support this.
So, what makes CABS so great? There are many dimensions to it.
*Faculty* When people outside the trade asked me what I was doing in Colorado Springs this week, I told them that I was going to listen to established, very successful professionals volunteer their time to share most of the secrets of their commercial success with their up and coming competition. I can’t imagine there are many other professions in which this would happen. The sheer breadth of topics covered, and most often depth as well, was a bit overwhelming. Whether it was Brian Cassidy going over business basics for booksellers, or Garrett Scott talking about research methods, or Lorne Bair and Rob Rulon-Miller talking about cataloguing, or Katherine Reagan talking about selling to libraries, or Terry Belanger talking about physical descriptions of books, etc., etc., there were very few aspects of the business of bookselling that weren’t covered. The faculty made themselves available to answer any and all questions, often using personal anecdotes as supporting evidence. I spoke with more than one person at the opening night’s reception who indicated that they had attended CABS multiple times, because it was nearly impossible to absorb everything that was taught the first time around. My sincere thanks go out to the faculty for their very generous donation of their time and expertise, and in some cases, the donation of their own valuable books as reference materials as well.
*Administration* Kathy Lindeman and her staff were amazing. It must have taken a great deal of effort to make everything work so smoothly at CABS, but Kathy made it look easy. Every detail was attended to, and if any issues arose, they were handled swiftly, leaving us able to focus our full attentions on the material at hand.
*Accommodations* The CC Inn on campus is, to say the least, spartan. However, you can’t beat the cost, and since almost everyone is staying in the same location, building connections was easy, often past 2:00 or 3:00 am for the hardiest of partiers.
*Food* The students at Colorado College are very lucky. Not only do they have a beautiful campus, but the cafeteria, which is located in the same building as the seminar room, is quite simply amazing. CABS arranges for everyone to have breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, again fostering the building of connections among the faculty and the students.
*Collegiality* One of the biggest lessons that I took out of this week is exactly how much of a role collegiality plays in the bookselling trade. The title and a major theme of the keynote address by Lisa Baskin was “You Can’t Do It Alone”. Collectors need booksellers, booksellers need collectors, and booksellers need other booksellers. For this all to work, the entire ecosystem needs to be healthy, and I was very encouraged about the future of the ecosystem based on what I experienced at CABS this week.
Another thing I’ll take from this week is lasting contacts. I know that friendships were forged, and useful commercial relationships developed as well. The late nights at the CC Inn, conversations with faculty and students over lunch, and shared trips to the excellent local bookstores all contributed to this.
If you haven’t been to CABS (or even if you have), I would strongly encourage you to go. It’s a week spent in a beautiful location, learning very practical advice for business success, among people who share your passion for books and who will be your colleagues in the future. I’d be hard-pressed to think of another week in my professional career that was as rewarding, or as much fun, as this one.