10 March 08 | Chad W. Post

I don’t have a lot to report on this conference that took place last week, except to say that the whole thing was pretty amazing and that it’s wonderful to see such a public celebration for a bookseller and his store.

Karl is one of the giants in terms of independent bookselling and one of the most knowledgeable book people in the country. The standing ovation he received on Thursday night was well-deserved, and it was fantastic to hear so many personal anecdotes about Karl and Shaman Drum. Really goes to show how a bookstore can be the cultural heart of a community.

The panels themselves were also interesting, from the one on publishing with Sven Birkerts of AGNI, Michael Wiegers of Copper Canyon, and Rebecca Wolff of Fence, to the very inspiring panel on writing in the schools with Terry Blackhawk of InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Jeffrey Kass of Pioneer High School, and Michele Kotler of Community-Word, to the very funny discussion of movie adaptations, which included Charles Baxter (Feast of Love), Laura Kasischke (The Life Before Her Eyes, and Jim Burnstein (Renaissance Man).

There really should be more events like this honoring booksellers. Karl has had such a huge impact on Ann Arbor’s literary scene, despite the fact that Borders is headquartered there . . .

And speaking of Borders, if I have one regret about attending this conference, it’s that I didn’t have a chance to go see the new concept store that recently opened and that Karl wrote about on his blog.

I have to admit, I’m a bit scared of a bookstore with TVs in it, but I really wanted to see the “Digital Center” and the Borders vision of the future of the bookstore. And visiting this store next to Kohl’s and Best Buy would’ve been a stark contrast to my visit to Shaman Drum and the conference. . . .

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