October 3, 2019

California book trade association dissolves amid acrimony; riots feared


“Two states! We want two states!” shouted Stocktonite Stephen Malkmus on Pavement’s debut album, Slanted and Enchanted. Twenty-six years later, the vision Malkmus outlined (“There’s no culture! Forty million daggers!”) has finally collapsed for good. On Sunday, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA) approved its Dissolution Resolution (now there’s a song title, we say!) and officially folded its tent.

The Union might be preserved, though: under a Malkmusian “One California” proposal, the recently deceased organization may combine with its similarly acronymed (or is it “initialism-ed”?) sister organization, the newly triumphant Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (“NCIBA,” for short). According to book-nerd bible Publishers Weekly, SCIBA “changed its bylaws two months ago to allow member booksellers from around the state to join the organization, paving the way for a single unified group.” Would the resultant organization go by NSCIBA? SNCIBA? This could be a deal-breaker, we fear!

In all seriousness though, we love indie booksellers (yes, even the bean-sprout-eating, chai-sipping hippies in California!) and we hope that everything shakes out well for our Golden State friends. Indie stores are the backbone of the industry, and regional trade associations are the keystone of that backbone … or something like that. Why, it seems just yesterday I was myself a spry young bookseller attending the mid-Atlantic show in Philadelphia, seeking a community of like-minded book-lovers, as well as free totebags.

Indeed, PW alludes to “the mixture of sorrow and hope that permeated the weekend” of the last-ever SCIBA, and quoted Ingram Publishing Group’s Andrea Tetrick as telling the assembled booksellers that “what you do to create community and pass along knowledge is completely vital. Remember that in your darkest days.” Awww!



Michael Lindgren is the Managing Editor at Melville House.