We're members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, the regional trade association for independent bricks-and-mortar bookstores. Arguably, SIBA is the strongest of the regional associations and although we are on the fringes of its territory, it is the region we feel closest to.
SIBA just announced the 2007 Book of the Year awards. These will be presented at our annual trade show, this year in Atlanta, Sept. 28-30. FYI, the 2008 show will be in Louisville at the Galt House, and we'll be seeking volunteers to help executive director Wanda Jewell put on the show. As a special treat, at least one other regional association will be meeting concurrently at the Galt House, making next year's show possibly the biggest regional show ever held.
We're prepared to take any of you willing to be trained to serve on our advisory board, so if you're interested in a fall trip to Atlanta to meet the authors and publishers of the year's best books, please give us a call at the store. Each of the award-winners will be on hand for the presentation of the SIBA Book of the Year awards, so that list alone should be enough to encourage you to come with us.
Regional shows are a great opportunity for us to spend time with the authors, including a very special moveable feast where dozens of authors spend ten minutes having lunch with a table full of booksellers. Past shows have featured James Patterson, Tim Dorsey, Jim Webb, Karen Slaughter, Lorraine Dupree, and other top names, but much of the fun is in meeting famous authors BEFORE they become famous. Ann and I obtained the first copy of "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" right out of the box. Even the author, Susanna Clarke, had never seen the book until that moment in Atlanta, and it is one of our treasured books. We'll provide you with the list of authors later as the commitments come in, but I guarantee you'll have a number of memorable encounters and get to see all the great books coming out later this year.
So, here are the winners of the SIBA Book of the Year for 2007*:
Children's book - Alabama Moon by Watt Key (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
Cookbook - I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris (Warner Books)
Poetry - Keep and Give Away by Susan Meyers (Univ. South Carolina Press)
Fiction - Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (Random House)
Nonfiction - Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt & Co)
I'll let you know that I voted three of those as my picks - the books by Sedaris, Frazier, and Shields - and have previously recommended them on these pages or in our newsletters.
*Each year, hundreds of booksellers across the South vote on their favorite hand-sell books of the year. These are the Southern books they have most enjoyed selling to customers; the ones that they couldn't stop talking about; the ones most often pushed into a customer’s hands with the words “You have got to read this!” The SIBA Book Award was created to recognize great books of Southern origin, as determined by people whose business it is to know great books—the independent booksellers of the South.
Books are nominated in several categories, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, cooking and children's. For a book to be eligible, it must be set in the South, and it must have been published within the calendar year. In order to promote diversity in the award, no author can win the award in the same category twice. Only SIBA-member booksellers can submit nominations, and only SIBA booksellers can vote on the finalists and winners of the award.