Indies Choice Winners Feted at Celebration of Bookselling

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This year's ABA Celebration of Bookselling Luncheon was a festive affair bringing together hundreds of indie booksellers and more than 40 authors whose works they nominated to the Indie Next Lists. The highlight of the event, sponsored by Baker & Taylor and emceed by ABA Vice President Becky Anderson, of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, was the presentation of the 2010 Indies Choice Book Awards (ICBA) to all seven winners, as well as the recognition of the honor award recipients who were among those in attendance.

Also honored was Judith Viorst, whose Alexander at the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day (Viking) was one of three titles inducted into the Picture Book Hall of Fame. Viorst helped set the tone for the celebration when she told the audience, "Bookstores are my synagogue and my temple."

Jerry Pinkney
Picture Book winner Jerry Pinkney

New Picture Book winner Jerry Pinkney explained why The Lion and the Mouse (Little, Brown) represents a "turning point" in his work. After more than a hundred books, Pinkney has shifted his goal as an author and illustrator to "giving the child ownership of the story." Honor recipient Marla Frazee (All the World, Beach Lane Books) celebrated not only the "personality, purpose, and passion" of independent bookstores, but also their status as the source of "the very best lattes ever." Honor recipient Susan Roth (Listen to the Wind, Dial) thanked booksellers for helping to share a story "I am very proud to be part of the telling of."

Young Adult winner Suzanne Collins (Catching Fire, Scholastic) noted that booksellers do a better job of summarizing and selling her books than she herself does, turning giant cockroaches and teenage death matches into something appealing. "If some of you could just jot down a couple of those lines, you'd help me out a lot in social situations," she said. Honor recipient Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Dutton Juvenile) sang the first line of the ode to indie bookstores she wrote after her book was chosen as an Indie Next Great Read, and honor recipient Libba Bray (Going Bovine, Delacorte Books for Young Readers) compared independent bookstores to Iggy Pop: both, she said, have a certain "cool factor," and both have endured much longer than critics expected. Laurie Halse Anderson (Wintergirls, Viking Juvenile), another honor recipient, talked about the power of local businesses in struggling communities, singling out her local bookstore, The River's End Bookstore.

Richard Peck
Honor recipient Richard Peck

Middle Reader winner Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me, Wendy Lamb Books) reminisced about growing up in the children's section of her local feminist bookstore in the 1970s, and admitted, "Whenever I stand next to Beth [Puffer] for any extended period of time, I have to resist the urge to ask her for a part-time job" at Bank Street Books. Honor recipient Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Shines My Shoes, Dial) said that the support of independent booksellers meant that she was starting a third Al Capone book, and honor recipient Richard Peck (A Season of Gifts, Dial) said that he "would have been lost" as a child if not for his local bookstore.

Adult Nonfiction winner David Grann (The Lost City of Z, Doubleday) said he was humbled by his award, because he had long looked to the Book Sense Book of the Year and Indies Choice Book Awards lists for his own reading. "Thank you for believing in The Lost City of Z, and for believing in the power of books," he said.

Kathryn Stockett
Adult Debut winner Kathryn Stockett

Adult Debut winner Kathryn Stockett (The Help, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam) also thanked booksellers, "for putting so much joy in my hands in the form of paper and ink." She particularly thanked the Tattered Cover booksellers who let her know about an error in the book that was corrected in later printings. Honor recipient Paul Harding (Tinkers, Bellevue Literary Press) thanked the booksellers he referred to as Tinkers' "guardian angels": Sheryl Cotleur of Book Passage and Michele Filgate of RiverRun Bookstore, who were early champions of his book.

Abraham Verghese
Adult Fiction winner Abraham Verghese

Adult Fiction winner Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone, Knopf) reminisced about the hours he spent at Prairie Lights Bookstore while studying writing, and said that as he traveled to bookstores around the country, "I had a great sense of meeting people who mattered."

Most Engaging Author Kate DiCamillo shared the story of the bookseller who knew that A Cricket in Times Square was the right book for the eight-year-old DiCamillo, as a complement to a biography of Abraham Lincoln. "It was one reader talking to another reader, believing in another reader," she said.

David Cully, B&T president of retail markets and executive vice president of merchandising/digital media services, spoke at the celebration on behalf of the event sponsor.