A Bookseller's Trip to the Quills

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By Carrie Sutherland of J.W. Beecroft Books & Coffee in Superior, Wisconsin

Thanks to ABA, I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first-ever Quill Book Awards ceremony in New York City. When I entered the ABA-sponsored contest to promote the event, I had no idea I would actually be attending the ceremony -- even as I jokingly told my manager, "I'm going to set up this display and win a trip to New York." As assistant manager of J.W. Beecroft Books & Coffee in Superior, Wisconsin, part of my duties include overseeing store merchandising. I heard about the Quills and the contest vie e-mail from ABA and through Bookselling This Week. When we received the customer handouts in our "White Box" and I saw the list of nominees and the breadth of genres covered, it seemed like a great opportunity to set up an interesting display with a lot of book-selling potential. I took a picture, sent it in, and forgot all about the contest as we continued to sell books from our display and tell customers about the upcoming Quills.

I was shocked when Meg Smith from ABA called to tell me they had drawn my name and I had actually won. Never having been to New York, I was extremely excited and immediately invited our storeowner, Janet Murphy, to attend with me. With just two weeks to prepare, I thought, "What am I going to wear?"

The awards were held on October 11th at Chelsea Piers on the shores of the Hudson River. In our formal attire, Jan and I set off in a cab and arrived to see the cameras rolling and lights flashing as nominees made their way down the red carpet. At the very elegant cocktail party, we enjoyed delicious hors d'oeuvre while strolling among the guests, looking for famous authors, spotting celebrities, knowing we were among the elite of the publishing industry and wondering, does anyone really look like their dust jacket photo? We overheard a nicely dressed gentleman say, "Right this way, Miss Roberts." Could it really be the Nora Roberts? (It turned out to be the wife of actor Tony Roberts, but a celebrity sighting nonetheless.)

We were warmly welcomed to the ceremony and dinner by ABA staff, including Avin Mark Domnitz, Oren Teicher, Eleanor Chang, Meg Smith, Mark Nichols, and Rosemary Hawkins from Bookselling This Week. They were all so gracious, providing us with insider's tips to New York City, discussing the ups and downs of the book business, and sharing their ties to the Midwest. The entire evening was a bookseller's paradise! To talk books with some of the best of the trade and to mingle with awe-inspiring authors David McCullough, Sue Monk Kidd, Deepak Chopra, and Elizabeth Kostova. Add to that the celebrities -- we were seated across from Matthew Modine and behind Tamara Tunie, we saw Kim Catrall and found out we had a brush with Candace Bushnell at the cocktail party, and we heard firsthand the humor of Jon Stewart and Robert Klein.

In the short time we were in New York City, we even spent an afternoon walking Fifth Avenue and viewing the sights of Manhattan, took a ride through Central Park, saw a couple of Broadway shows, and toured very quickly through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although the continual rain slowed us down a bit, it didn't dampen our spirits.

I feel so grateful to ABA for granting me this opportunity and for all of the other ways they support independent booksellers. They provide us with a voice to the publishers, an economical and easy to maintain website, a bestseller list that reflects what we sell, a national gift card program, a means to fight for our rights, and more information and resources than we can measure. Thank you so much for a fantastic experience in New York, but more importantly thank you for all you do everyday for J.W. Beecroft and other independent booksellers like us.