The Southern Book Prize

Each year, hundreds of booksellers across the South vote on the books they have most enjoyed selling to customers: the books they couldn't stop talking about; books by southern writers, or with a southern perspective, or both. For years, the SIBA Book Award has recognized great books of southern origin.

In 2017, the SIBA Book Award became The Southern Book Prize  and implemented The Conroy Legacy Award to honor one of the region's most enduring, iconic writers and to recognize Conroy as a force for good in the world of southern books and literature.

For a book to be eligible, it must be set in the South, or the author must be Southern (or both) and it must have been published within the previous calendar year.

Winners will be chosen by popular vote, and Southern indie bookstores will be encouraged to involve their customers in the voting process by creating in-store displays of the finalist titles as part of their holiday promotions. Each store will be provided postage-paid postcard ballots to hand out to booksellers and customers. An online ballot will also be available on November 10th. Returned ballots will be entered into a raffle to win a complete set of the finalist titles.

In-store voting will begin the week of the Love Your Bookstore Challenge, November 10-16, building on the momentum of the grassroots campaign to encourage book buying at local bookstores and giving store customers chances to win more prizes. Voting will run from November 10 through February 1, 2019. Southern Book Prize winners will be announced on February 14, Valentine’s Day.


The Conroy Legacy Award, honors the example of beloved author Pat Conroy and recognizes writers who have achieved a lasting impact on their literary community. Recipients will have shown the following attributes:

  • Support for independent bookstores, both in their own communities and in general.
  • Writing that focuses significantly on their own home place.
  • Demonstrates support of other writers, especially new and emerging authors.

The Conroy Legacy Award is given to one writer in SIBA territory per year. A juried panel of SIBA member booksellers representing all of SIBA's states will choose among nominated writers to determine the year’s winner.

Follow the links below to learn more. Mark your calendars now for important nomination deadlines and announcements!


Southern Book Prize

Celebrate Independents! Announcing the 2019 Southern Book Prize Winners -- the best in southern literature, from the people who would know...Southern Independent Booksellers and their independently minded customers. Nominated by booksellers and selected via popular vote by Southern booksellers and their customers, the chosen books represent the indie answer to the question "What was the best Southern book of the year?"

2019 Southern Book Prize Winners

The Line That Held Us

The Line That Held Us by David Joy
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9780399574221

"With the Southern grit of Daniel Woodrell and the rich Appalachian cadence of Ron Rash, David Joy is the new voice of Southern noir. In The Line That Held Us, Joy drags the reader by the gut on a dark and twisted journey of violence and vengeance in a story that will not be soon forgotten."
– Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Smack Dab in the Middle of MaybeCHILDREN’S
Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Hackl
Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780399557385

"Cricket is all alone -- her mama ran away, and her dad died, and now she's stuck with her Aunt Belinda, who doesn't want her. So Cricket sets out on a quest to find and solve a clue trail that she hopes will lead her to her mama and make everything right in her world. On the way, she learns to rely on herself and discovers that some treasures aren't monetary but are just as valuable. Fans of Sheila Turnage's Three Times Lucky will love Cricket and her journey of self-discovery."
– Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The Best Cook in the WorldNONFICTION
The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg*
Knopf, 9781400040414

"Rick Bragg is the whole package. Intelligent, to the point, hilarious and beyond generous with his time and storytelling. A true man's man and momma's boy who makes us cry with laughter. He embraces his Southern roots and contributes to the overall reason we all love the South."
– Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

*recipient of the 2019 Conroy Legacy Award

The 2019 Southern Book Prize represents a change in both format and timing from past years. Previously timed to be announced in the summer, voting in 2019 began November 10 as part of the Love Your Bookstore Challenge Week, and was opened to Southern booksellers and their customers. Winners were selected by popular vote and will now be announced on Valentine’s Day.

The response to the new format was enthusiastic as booksellers, readers and writers all rallied around their favorites on the ballot. Over 2800 ballots were submitted by Southern readers, representing over 150 Southern independent bookstores and confirming the Southern Book Prize as a true "Southern Readers' Choice" award. "It was a phenomenal response" said Wanda Jewell, the Executive Director of The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, which administers the Southern Book Prize. "It illustrates the magic that happens when independent bookstores get behind a book and get their customers involved."