At this years BookExpo America, the Southeast Booksellers Association (SEBA) will honor Becky Anderson Wilkins, co-owner of Andersons Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, with the 2002 Charles S. Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling. The annual award is given to a bookseller who "has achieved excellence in the field," and includes a $1,000 cash prize and plaque. Incoming ABA President Ann Christopherson will present the Haslam Award at the ABA Celebration of Bookselling, held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., on Friday, May 3, in the Special Events Hall at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York.
Not surprisingly, Wilkins said that shes thrilled with the award. "Its incredible," she told BTW. "I didnt expect this. Its a wonderful thing for my family. I know this was an award for me individually, but I dont consider it that way. Its a huge validation for everything we do [at Andersons]. Its a great way to celebrate our [being an independent bookstore]."
Wanda Jewell, executive director of SEBA, said that Wilkins beat some stiff competition to get this years Haslam Award, the winner of which is culled from approximately nine applicants. "The judges said that this was the strongest pool of applicants they ever had," she said. The Haslam is sponsored annually by SEBA, and underwritten by Ingram Book Company in the name of "esteemed bookman" Charles Haslam.
In terms of awards, its been a good year for Wilkins, who was also named by the Women's National Book Association (WNBA) as the 2002 winner of the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award for a general bookstore. (To read more about the 2002 Pannell Awards, click here.
Wilkinss family has run Anderson's for the past 127 years. The business includes three bookstores, one in Naperville and two in other suburbs, and an independent pharmacy, which was also started by her great, great grandfather. All three are general bookstores, but with an emphasis on children's books and events.
In a press release announcing the award, SEBA noted that Andersons Bookshops have "a strong commitment and interaction with the communities where they live and do business." It also cited Wilkinss "Marketing and Focus Group that includes all of the managers, the school partnership manager, publicity head, co-op person, and any others with new ideas who are encouraged to attend. [Wilkins] approves all expenditures for advertising and promotion. Since the store has a most talented and creative staff with amazing ideas, they are able to produce all their own in-house advertising. The Andersons Bookshops mission statement reads to share a knowledge and passion for books to create lifelong readers."