Live from BEA -- Day Two

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Book Sense Book of the Year Awards Announced at ABA Celebration of Bookselling

Ann Patchett

At this year's Celebration of Bookselling at BookExpo America, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Little, Brown) won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award as best adult fiction title. Accepting the award for Sebold was Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown. The winner for adult nonfiction was Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller (Random House). Tom Perry, director of publicity for Random House, accepted the award for Fuller.

The winner of the paperback award -- presented for the first time this year -- was given to Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Perennial).

Cornelia Funke

In the children's category, the award for illustrated book went to Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague (Scholastic), which was accepted by Jean Feiwel, senior vice president and publisher of Scholastic. Cornelia Funke, author of The Thief Lord (Chicken House/Scholastic), accepted the award in the children's literature category.

In the Rediscovery category, the winner was The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston (Odyssey/Harcourt). Accepting the award was Jennifer Gilmore, director of publicity for Harcourt.

The finalists and six winners received reading-related gifts from Book Sense marketing partner, Levenger, a catalog and Internet company that provides high-quality tools for reading and writing.

The seventh annual Celebration was co-sponsored by The Atlantic Monthly and Minute Maid's Bacardi Mixers. Coming at the end of a busy day on the trade show floor, the event offered an opportunity for both booksellers and publishers to reaffirm their solidarity in bringing together books and readers.

Molly Ivins

The evening's awards were presented by nationally syndicated columnist and bestselling author Molly Ivins, who was introduced by ABA President Ann Christophersen. "It always makes me happy to be around independent booksellers," Ivins noted, and added that "I have delivered so many commencement speeches recently that I'm tempted to say, 'Go forth unafraid.'"

Prior to the announcement of the winners, booksellers thanked Carl Lennertz, former ABA senior marketing consultant, who is now vice president, marketing for the HarperCollins imprint. "Carl was the perfect person at the perfect time" to establish the credibility of Book Sense among both booksellers and publishers," said ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz. Addressing Lennertz, Domnitz continued, "I say to you from every independent bookseller in this room, and for everything you have done, thank you."

ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz and Carl Lennertz

Acknowledging the applause of the hundreds of booksellers and others, Lennertz said, "I love how you are taking Book Sense to a higher level." He continued, "There is so much that ABA does, and I beg of you to avail yourselves of it." Exhorting booksellers to "keep putting up your Book Sense 76 displays, keep reporting to the bestseller list," he said, "Your knowledge and your displays and your handselling are more important than ever. Please keep it going."

Linda Ramsdell of the Galaxy Bookshop with Rep. Bernie Sanders

Also honored at the Celebration was Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who earlier in the year introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157). Vermont bookseller Linda Ramsdell -- whose grassroots efforts together with other booksellers and state librarians helped convince the Congressman to introduce the bill -- presented Sanders with a special copy of the First Amendment. "We can fight terrorism without undermining the Constitution of the United States," he said.

Before the book awards, ABA honored and acknowledged the five years of service of outgoing Board member Lilla Weinberger of Reader's Books in Sonoma, California. Christophersen noted that she and Weinberger both joined the Board in 1997, and she thanked Weinberger for her "generosity and loving spirit," adding that "the Board will miss her, and I will personally miss her."

Also honored was incoming Board member Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands in Tempe, Arizona, who was presented with the 2003 Charles S. Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling.

ABA Town Hall Meeting

This year's Town Hall Meeting was filled with constructive and positive comments from attending booksellers. ABA President Christophersen opened the informal meeting, asking booksellers to share their thoughts about ABA and to "raise whatever questions and concerns you have."

The hour-long meeting began with an announcement by Tina Jordan, public relations director/special events director for BookExpo America, who explained why show manager Greg Topalian wasn't at this year's convention. "Nothing would keep Greg from [BookExpo] -- barring the birth of his first child," she said, prompting laughter from the large crowd. She noted that, due to the success of the special booksellers' Hotel California at this year's show, Reed Exhibitions plans to have a "Hotel 'California' in Chicago" in 2004.

Dominating much of the Town Hall meeting was the announcement that Book Sense and gift card vendor, Givex, would be launching an electronic gift card program. "The beauty of Givex," said Domnitz, "is it's not tied to any credit card processing system. It's a stand-alone system" which would allow booksellers to use it in a number of ways -- via the Internet, a specialized processing machine, or via telephone.

The program generated much interest among booksellers at the meeting, many of whom raised questions regarding costs and the mechanics of the program, all of which were answered by Domnitz. (Look for more on the gift card program in upcoming issues of Bookselling This Week.)

Some bookseller members raised concerns over ABA's new marketing partnership with Minute Maid's Bacardi Mixers to attract consumers participating in reading groups to independent bookstores with Book Sense. Christophersen pledged that the Board would exercise a great deal of sensitivity in evaluating any future relationships.

ABA Annual Membership Meeting

Immediately following the Town Hall Meeting was ABA's Annual Membership Meeting. Booksellers heard a report from both Board members and ABA CEO Domnitz on the association's implementation of the strategic plan over the last 12 months. In her president's report, Christophersen pointed to the growing effectiveness of ABA's governance structure and said, "It's been a great year…. It's so great to have this group of people to work with."

In his CEO's report, Domnitz reviewed the implementation of a number of new initiatives and the further development of the Book Sense program, and he detailed the association's finances. (Look for more on the Annual Meeting next week in BTW.) "It is a joy to be the CEO of this organization," Domnitz noted in conclusion. "Independent booksellers are the best people in the world."

In other matters, Board member Carla Jimenez reported on Board elections, in which Mitchell Kaplan and Suzanne Staubach were re-elected to the Board, and Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore was elected to the Board. Members also ratified the Board's selection of Christophersen as president and Kaplan as vice president/secretary.

The Book Sense 76 Luncheon

Another high point of the day was the annual Book Sense Luncheon, where approximately 350 booksellers and 100 authors, publishing attendees, and press joined in a joyful celebration. At tables of 10, authors and attendees talked, ate, and thoroughly enjoyed each others' company. All of the authors were acknowledged by host Valerie Lewis, owner of Hicklebee's in San Jose, California, and those who were also nominated for the Book Sense Book of the Year Awards spoke to booksellers.

Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees (Viking/Penguin), said, "I think the best thing that ever happened to my book is that it was a Book Sense pick," and she related an exchange she overheard in a bookstore she visited on her book tour. "A woman said to the bookseller, 'I'm looking for a book, and I don't know the title, and I don't know what it's about. But it did have bees in it." Kidd noted that the bookseller handed the customer a copy of The Secret Life of Bees, "and the woman said, 'No, I don't think that's it.' And the bookseller said, 'Yes, it is.' Apparently, this is what independent booksellers do -- foist books on people who seemingly don't want them. I felt like I was visited by angels."

Jon J. Muth, the author of The Three Questions (Scholastic), said simply, "The Book Sense 76 nomination has put the wind under the kite of this book."

Afterward, booksellers were uniform in their praise of the event. "I find the Book Sense 76 Lunch the most inspiring and rejuvenating event of BookExpo," said Susan Novotny of Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, New York. "The energy that flows between booksellers and authors just blows me away."

Andy Weinberger of Readers' Books in Sonoma, California, said, "It was a great lunch -- I had tears in my eyes." He noted that, in seeing the gratitude of the authors in the room, "it made me realize that we're really doing meaningful work." Carol Chittenden of Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Massachusetts, concurred. "This is so inspiring and so affirming. I think I got a lump in my throat. For us, it was so clear that we are valued, and, on any given day when you are dealing with a receiving problem or whatever, and you think what difference does it make, you come in here and you see it does."

The Children's Book & Author Breakfast

Before the trade show floor opened on Friday, booksellers and other industry professionals sat down for breakfast with Barbara Park (Junie B. First Grader: One Man Band, Random House Children's Book), Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers (Blues Journey, Holiday House), and Robert Sabuda (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up (Little Simon). The 25th annual Children's Book & Author Breakfast was presented in cooperation with the Children's Booksellers and Publishers Committee of the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Booksellers for Children, and the Children's Book Council.

Also at the breakfast, this year's Lucile Micheels Pannell Awards were presented to Doug Dutton of Dutton's Brentwood Bookstore in Los Angeles and Cammie Mannino of Halfway Down the Stairs Children's Book Shop in Rochester, Michigan. Each received a $1,000 check and an original piece of art created by a children's book illustrator.

Dana Brigham of Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts, who attended the breakfast, praised all the featured children's book creators, but noted especially that "Barbara Park was hilarious."

Park lightheartedly began her presentation by telling the audience that she was going to speak about something no else usually does -- money. "Money for you, and money for me," she explained. And the way to attain this, she then suggested, was for booksellers to create a Barbara Park boutique in their stores, where "every Barbara Park book is face out as god intended them to be." She continued by describing how she became a children's author at the age of 30, and thanked "my adored independents" for handselling her first books.

She was followed on the podium by author Walter Dean Myers and his son, illustrator Christopher Myers, who also evoked laughter from the audience as they explained the genesis of Blues Journey. Walter Dean Myers talked about blues as "music of the heart," while Christopher Myers explained that he felt that blues was a very spare music form, which he reflected in his illustrations by using a palette of blues and browns.

Sabuda told the audience how his love of books, and pop-up books in particular, developed. He described how he started creating his first pop-up books by using old manila folders that his mother brought home from her job at the Ford Motor Company. "I'm a bookmaker," Sabuda proudly declared. "I could not live without books."

He also explained that when he creates a pop-up book, he "wants the book to dance." Sabuda encouraged listeners to embrace pop-up books, because "variety is truly the spice of life, when it comes to books for young people."

Read tomorrow's Live From BEA for more from the show, including the a report on ABACUS 2003 and more .

Reported by Dan Cullen, David Grogan, and Rosemary Hawkins. Photographs by Jeffrey Wexler.