Faces in the Crowd: ABA Introduces Newest Staff Members

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In recent months, the American Booksellers Association has welcomed four new staff members, whose aim is to share their skills as well as their passion for independent bookselling with member stores. For booksellers who didn’t have an opportunity to meet them at BookExpo America, here’s a brief introduction. We hope that you’ll get to know them even better in the weeks and months to come.

Catherine Cusick is the new Member Relationship Manager for the NEIBA, NAIBA, MIBA, and GLIBA regions. She is the first point of contact for members in her regions and will be able to answer questions regarding ABA and its many services as well as provide assistance in dealing with industry-related issues.

Cusick comes to ABA from a professional background in theatre in New York City, where she was a director, producer, actor, and playwright for the last four years. As an independent producer, Cusick served as the main contact between every individual and entity involved in a production, from the creative team to a variety of professional organizations. She also served as a creative director for a family-operated professional resume-writing business, where she was the primary liaison for all new and returning clients. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Vassar College.

“The Drama Book Shop is a second home, and one of my absolute favorite places to be, period,” Cusick said. “It is the answer to every question the theatre community has related to published plays, acting editions, professional resources — any and all theatre-related print material. And it really is like a home to me — I can’t visit without running into a friend, colleague, teacher, or idol. It’s our communal living room.”

Cusick’s first day at ABA was at BookExpo America, where she was able to immerse herself in the work of ABA. She looks forward to getting to know more members and providing support for their businesses.

“I don’t know of any other association that provides as much value to its membership as ABA does to its participating stores,” said Cusick. “I’m knee-deep in the process of versing myself in every last detail of what ABA has to offer, and I can safely say the list of benefits really does just go on and on and on.”

Catherine Cusick can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7566; (914) 406-7566; or catherine@bookweb.org.

Shannon Azzato Stephens, ABA’s Industry Relations Assistant, is working with Development Officer Mark Nichols and Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger as a liaison between publishers and member booksellers.

Azzato Stephens is currently working on the Indies Introduce Debut Authors promotion by tracking sales for the spring program titles and organizing publicity for the upcoming fall titles. She also assists with the production of the Indie Next List and Indie Bestseller list –– gathering blurbs, proofreading content, and disseminating information through the weekly extended Bestseller list. In the coming months, she will be working on preparations for Winter Institute 9 and will coordinate the Consultation Station.

Previously, Azzato Stephens worked as the publicist and consignment coordinator at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and as a bookseller at Dubray Books in Dublin, Ireland. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. She is using her bookselling experience to complete a collection of short fiction and an academic thesis comparing independent bookselling in the U.S. and Ireland.

“Having worked for an ABA member bookstore, I can attest to the value of the services offered by ABA,” Azzato Stephens said. “IndieBound, the Indie Next List, the Indie Bestseller List, and seasonal offers like Indies Introduce make it possible for indies to spark sales and support the best authors writing today. I hope that my experience as a bookseller and publicist, as well as my work as a creative writer, will help me coordinate industry tools that connect booksellers to publishers, and booksellers to writers themselves.  I believe that indies can thrive in a changing industry, and I’m excited to be part of an organization that provides tools for successful business.”

Shannon Azzato Stephens can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7545; (914) 406-7545; shannonas@bookweb.org.

Sydney Jarrard, ABA’s Content Coordinator, writes for Bookselling This Week and develops content for educational programming at the Winter Institute, the ABA specialty institutes, and BookExpo America.

Jarrard received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Plattsburgh State University. She worked in marketing at Springer Publishing and interned at HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster while completing a Master’s degree in publishing from Pace University. As a trade sales marketing coordinator for Hachette Book Group’s Little, Brown adult imprint, she supported independent and national account reps and coordinated the publisher’s presence at nine annual fall regional shows and at the Winter Institute each year. She has freelance writing experience with several websites, as well as a New England newspaper.

Jarrard shares ABA’s passion for independent bookstores and looks forward to providing the information and education to help independent bookstores continue to do what they do best.

“Without Open Door Bookstore, I would not have had picture books to take home when I was a kid,” said Jarrard. “Without WORD, I would not have discovered Lionel Shriver or China Miéville. Without The Voracious Reader, I would not have found the perfect gift for my cousin’s first birthday. I don’t want to live in a world without independent bookstores.

“In all of the work I have done in the industry over the years, my favorite moments have been working with ABA and working with independent booksellers. I now get to do my two favorite things as a full-time job. I get to do my dream job. I get to write about bookstores, about the book world, and about books. I get to read the best of the best books and talk to the smartest, funniest, and most talented booksellers. I get to live my passion daily, alongside people who share that exact same passion. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Sydney Jarrard can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7563; (914) 406-7563; or sydney@bookweb.org.

Josh Harding joined ABA in March as the System Administrator. He is charged with supporting and maintaining the servers that run IndieCommerce, IndieBound, and BookWeb. Harding has 10 years of IT experience in a variety of environments and specializes in Open Source Software.

“Some of my earliest memories are from the Foundry Bookstore in New Haven, Connecticut, (which closed in 2003). Henry [Berliner, the store’s owner] turned me into a life-long reader,” said Harding. “I don’t know where the book industry is headed, but I’m certain that our members are an important part of its future.”

Josh Harding can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7528; (914) 406-7528; or josh@bookweb.org.