Day 2 at BookExpo America -- Book Sense Round the Clock

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And the Winners Are….

At this year's Celebration of Bookselling at BookExpo America, Leif Enger's Peace Like a River (Atlantic Monthly) won the Book Sense Book of the Year award as best adult fiction title.

The winner for adult nonfiction was Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House), and the winner of the rediscovery award -- presented for the first time this year -- was given to My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (Random House).

In the children's category, Ian Falconer was once again the winner for illustrated book, for Olivia Saves the Circus (Atheneum), and Ann Brashares won for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Delacorte) in the literature category.

"I don't know what to say. I don't ever expect to win -- I'm incredibly grateful," said Enger. "The Book Sense [stores] really propelled Peace Like a River. I owe booksellers a ton." Brashares noted to BTW, "I was really honored to win…. I'd like to share my incredible gratitude to booksellers."

The sixth annual celebration -- co-sponsored this year by the Atlantic Monthly and Smithsonian magazines -- was once again a festive mix of reunion, good cheer, and praise, as over 1,000 attendees capped a busy first day on the trade show floor. ABA President Ann Christophersen introduced the evening's host, Doris Kearns Goodwin, who thanked booksellers for their support, noting her pleasure "to be here with so many loyal friends."

Outgoing ABA President Neal Coonerty and outgoing board member Matt Miller were both saluted for their years of service. The approximately 60 people attending the prospective booksellers school, which concluded today at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, were welcomed and urged "to come back next year as owners and operators of 60 new independent bookstores," said Christophersen. Also thanked were the 25 members of ABA's Booksellers Advisory Council. And Becky Anderson Wilkins of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, was presented the 2002 Charles S. Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling, sponsored by SEBA and underwritten by Ingram.

In an emotional moment, Christophersen congratulated the Tattered Cover on its important victory protecting customer privacy in the bookstore. The audience gave owner Joyce Meskis a standing ovation as she came to the podium to thank all who supported the store's legal fight during the past two years.

ABA Town Hall Meeting

This year's Town Hall Meeting was filled with positive and constructive comments from attending booksellers. Incoming ABA President Ann Christophersen opened the informal meeting, and asked booksellers to share their thoughts about ABA and its many programs, be it accolades or criticism.

The hour-long meeting began with an announcement by Greg Topalian, vice president and show director for BookExpo America, that ABA and Reed Exhibitions have agreed to a 10-year contract extension, meaning that the partnership between ABA and Reed will last at least until 2015.

As part of a joint statement, ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz commented: "ABA is delighted to be entering into a new 10-year agreement with Reed as a partner in BEA. As the trade show grows -- and reaches out to new participants -- this agreement reaffirms Reed's commitment to the independent bookstore community -- and demonstrates that no matter how the show evolves and changes -- independent bookstores remain a leading focus of this annual gathering of the American book business."

A prominent topic at the meeting was Bookselling This Week in its online format. Those present received an explanation of BTW's new enhanced printing option. Copies of last week's issue were distributed, and the response was positive. The new print capability debuted last week.

Other topics included the ABA Book Buyer's Handbook in electronic format and the importance of ABA's advocacy efforts.

ABA's Annual Membership Meeting

Immediately following the Town Hall Meeting was ABA's Annual Membership Meeting. The meeting was chaired by Neal Coonerty, who discussed his past two years as president.

In his president's report, Coonerty noted that while membership has gone down over the past year, retention rates have remained stable. The decline was due in large part to the fact that very few new independent bookstores were opening. Despite the decline in membership, he reported that independent market share had remained constant for the third year in a row. In fact, it had grown in terms of dollar sales.

Avin Mark Domnitz gave his CEO's Report at the meeting, reviewing highlights of the 2001 consolidated financial statement. During his report, Domnitz fielded questions from ABA members, including inquiries regarding the LIBRIS insurance program and the current financials of Book Sense and He also reviewed the implementation of the Strategic Plan, citing examples and programs in which the association is working to meet the plan's goals.

Let's Do Lunch…

The Book Sense 76 Lunch provided, for the second year in a row, an opportunity for booksellers to meet and acknowledge their appreciation to authors selected for the Book Sense 76 list. Hundreds of independent booksellers and 50 authors attended the lunch, sponsored by The New Yorker. David Carey, vice president and publisher of The New Yorker, which recently featured a special section on stores participating in Book Sense as well as recommended titles, told booksellers that "we salute your success and look forward to working with you for years to come."

Booksellers, in turn, then saluted the assembled authors, who had joined them at the many luncheon tables. Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo, whose Empire Falls was a finalist for the Book Sense Book of the Year adult nonfiction award, captured the spirit of the authors' comments. "I'm going to have to stop coming to these wonderful events, for, with each passing year, I owe you more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Book and Author Breakfast Highlights Diversity and Power of Children's Literature

Early Friday morning, an audience of nearly one thousand people experienced what many booksellers were calling some of the most entertaining and passionate presentations of the entire show when the American Booksellers Association - Children's Book Council Joint Committee hosted the annual Children's Book and Author Breakfast.

Committee co-chairs Deborah Sloan of Candlewick Press and Beth Puffer of Bank Street Bookstore in Manhattan served as emcees for the popular event at which the Women's National Book Association's Lucile Micheels Pannell Awards for Children's Bookseller of the Year were presented to Becky Anderson Wilkins of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, in the general bookstore category and Carol Borg Chittenden of Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in the children's bookstore category.

The event also featured four notable children's book authors, who spoke at length about their work. Beginning with playwright Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak, collaborators on a book about the ill-fated Czech children's opera Brundibar (Michael De Capua/Hyperion), through Kate DiCamillo, author of The Tiger Rising and Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick), to actor/author John Lithgow (Micawber's Museum of Art, Simon & Schuster), the audience of children's booksellers and industry professionals was enthralled.

911: Civil Liberties in a Time of Crisis

On Friday, May 3, a renowned panel joined in the discussion "911: Civil Liberties in a Time of Crisis" to explore how the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have affected the free flow and dissemination of information. The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), the Association of American Publishers, and the Freedom to Read Foundation sponsored the panel.

The hour and fifteen minute discussion was intense, and, in the final 20 minutes, included much give and take between attending booksellers and the panelists. Opening the session was Chris Finan, president of ABFFE, who said he was pleased with the large turn out (very few empty seats were left in the large hall), and urged attendees to join in the fight against censorship.

Moderating the panel was Joan Bertin, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of 50 non-profit organizations. Speaking about their experiences with censorship following the terrorist strikes were Barbara Kingsolver, the author of The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer (HarperCollins); Michael Moore, the author of Stupid White Men (HarperCollins) and the director of the award-winning documentary, Roger and Me; John R. (Rick) MacArthur, publisher of Harper's magazine; and Nat Hentoff, a columnist for the Washington Post and the Village Voice.

Highlights included Moore's funny and poignant telling of how Stupid White Men was almost pulped following 9/11, but was saved by one librarian who spread the word on a librarian chat room. Also, Kingsolver talked about how people can be censored simply through having their words distorted or taken out of context. -- Reporting from New York, Dan Cullen, Dave Grogan, Rosemary Hawkins, and Nomi Schwartz.