Congratulations again to Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., which won Publishers Weekly's Bookseller of the Year Award. At the Celebration of Bookselling, owner Joel Sheldon was quite modest, saying, "I'm not the best bookseller." Thanking his staff, he did at least suggest that he might be "the best bookstore owner."
Vroman's president and CEO Alison Hill praised the staff: "120 of the most extraordinary individuals work so hard every single day to make Vroman's the best it can be and make the world a little better."
Saying that his "colleagues have been putting up with this ego for a month," PW Rep of the Year Roy Schonfeld of Abraham Associates told the crowd to "remember the cultural impact booksellers have in the community, an important theme in American society now and one we should pay a lot of attention to."
Both Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt, owners of the Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, Vt., winners in the children's store category of the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award, sponsored by the Women's National Book Association, accepted the award. Leavitt said that the pair were in the "business of creating thoughtful, imaginative readers. We ignite young minds."
Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif., winner of the Pannell award in the general bookstore category, thanked his children's booksellers.
Best moment in a videotaped acceptance award at BEA: Speaking from his studio, Mo Willems, winner of the Book Sense Book of the Year in the children's illustrated category for Knuffle Bunny Too, thanked the crowd and then said that the best part of winning was that he beat Jon Scieszka--as Scieszka slowly rose up behind him.
Brian Selznick, who won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award in children's literature for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, said he thinks of himself "as a bookseller at heart," adding that "all I know about books can be traced back to Eeyore's," the late children's bookstore in New York City where he worked. On tour and at events like the Celebration of Bookselling, "I always feel I'm coming home," he continued.
Khaled Hosseini, who won the Book Sense Book of the Year in adult fiction for A Thousand Splendid Suns, remembered the bookstore he spent much time at while growing up in Afghanistan in the 1970s. "There was no more favorite place for me in Kabul," he said. The bookstore owner introduced Hosseini to a range of authors from around the world, which was important in his development as a writer. "You can't become a writer of books until you have a love affair with books," he explained.
Thanking the crowd of booksellers for "handselling the hell out of my books," he stated, "Many, many authors owe their success to you. Without your word of mouth, our careers would never have taken off."
Congratulations to Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif., which won a drawing for all the books at the Ten Speed Press booth; the publisher did not want to ship them back to Berkeley. After learning that Skylight Books had won, co-owner and general manager Kerry Slattery grabbed helpers and begged for boxes. In the end, the store took home nearly 500 books.
Best description of librarians, by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! at the ABA Day of Education lunch: "They are a group of people you do not want to meet in a dark alley if you want to trample on free expression."
Goodman also called bookstores "oases of safe places where we all can talk."
Incidentally overall attendance at BEA was 28,494, which was up compared to the last BEA in Los Angeles, in 2003, when attendance was 27,143. By contrast, attendance last year in New York, traditionally the most popular site for BEA, was 36,112.
There were 5,539 book buyers at the show. Bookseller attendance was about level with last year, but librarian attendance dropped by almost 2,000, mainly because ALA will take place in Los Angeles later this month and because most of BEA's outreach to librarians has been on the East Coast. Total attendance of booksellers, librarians and other non-exhibitors, including the press, was 9,250.
The best tip of the show was made by BEA show director Lance Fensterman at the ABA Town Meeting, when he mentioned the shortcut between the
south and west halls: the outdoor courtyard that has plenty of tables,
food stands, including a great taco joint, and, of course, sun and
fresh air. We hate to count how many times at L.A. shows we've
grudgingly trudged the long, roundabout indoor passageway between the
Congratulations to the BEA and ABA staffs,
who pitched in and served the Book Sense lunch on Saturday, when the
wait staff walked out for two hours as part of a long-running
contractual dispute with management. Perhaps future subsidiaries could
include Reed Exhibitions & Catering or IndieFoodService.
It was great to run into Rich Freese, who has recovered from his fall
and is working as a consultant, mainly on sales and distribution
issues, and told us he is busy and enjoys his new gig. "I figure out
solutions and present them and the company enacts them," he said. The
president of Rich Freese and Associates, he was head of PGW when parent
company AMS declared bankruptcy at the end of 2006. He may be reached
at email@example.com or 510-336-9501.--John Mutter