Friday, June 11, 2010

WNBA - That's BOOKS not Basketball!

I spent last weekend in Detroit for the annual Women's National Book Association meeting. I am a chapter president and we all get together with the national officers and a few committee chairs for 3 days of meetings. Sounds tedious? Well, that's what I thought as I went to my first one last year in Nashville, but it was actually fun and informative. I was looking forward to this one! And for those of you about to dis Detroit, we WANTED to go there (we're non-profits and budgets are crazy-tight.) And it was lovely.

We're rolling out a new website soon which was a big part of the discussion. Also October is National Reading Group Month, and NRGM is the biggest WNBA initiative each year. All the chapters have big events with big name authors. My chapter is having to change some things around as thanks to draconian library budget cuts, the fall book festival is no more. We're thinking of doing a dinner with book club leaders that's like speed dating. There would be 2-3 of us that would rotate to all the tables to talk about good Book Club suggestions. With NRGM, we also have a list of recommended books each year called Great Group Reads. Two of my friends are on the selection committee. They really enjoy it, but I could never do that - not only do I not respond very well to being told what to read, but it's a huge list in a very short time frame. But I have read 3 of the books on the 2009 list and they were all impressive.

This sound interesting? There are 10 chapters around the country currently, and I am the chair of the New Chapter Committee (please let me know if you're interested in starting a chapter in your city.) We currently have chapters in:
Dallas (starting back up!)
Los Angeles
New York
San Francisco
Seattle (just started last year!)
Washington, D.C.

Curious about what the heck the WNBA is? Well, in the fall of 1917, fifteen women booksellers who had been excluded from membership in the all-male Bookseller’s League (precursor to the ABA) and from attending the league’s annual convention (precursor to BEA), met in Sherwood’s Book Store at 19 John Street in downtown New York. They met again on November 13 of that year with thirty-five women present and formed a permanent organization, the Women’s National Book Association. WNBA’s unique characteristic was a membership open to women in all facets of the world of books—publishers, booksellers, librarians, authors, illustrators, agents, book production people—the only criterion being that part of their income must come from books.

That's one thing I love the most about this organization. I was in another publishing group when I was in New York, but when I left I was forced to quit as I was moving to a book wholesaler, and that's not a publisher. In the WNBA we have teachers, librarians, publishers, agents, authors, readers, booksellers, packagers, sales reps, and a hundred other types of people (in my chapter we have Structural Designer (engineer) and a project manager for a playground company (how cool is that!?)) We don't discriminate - if you love books, we want you. It's so great to sit around and talk books with other knowledgeable, enthusiastic readers.

In Detroit we went to the Detroit Institute of Art, and the Yacht Club. I really enjoyed it and would recommend more people go visit, as crazy as that may sound to some of you. It sure is affordable! Here is some awesome art, all of which I saw:


Stacy at The Novel Life said...

what an amazing group! i would love to start a chapter for Atlanta! what do i need to do?

and oh the art you've included...how gorgeous! the art wall is so incredible - how awe-inspiring it must have been to stand in front of it!

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I'm curious too about how to start a chapter??

Carin Siegfried said...

Hi Gerbera Daisy - I see you're in Little Rock. If you think you can get enough people together, that would be cool. But I will say one reason the WNBA works in Nashville and Charlotte but might be more difficult in other cities of similar size and sensibilities is that Nashville has Ingram and Charlotte has Baker & Taylor - that said, if you can get a group of about 15 people together to start who are willing to organize and be officers, etc., that would be fantastic! You should reach out to authors and agents as well as librarians and sales reps. Let me know if you need further direction after you talk to people! Good luck!