Book of the Year & Bookseller of the Year Winners Honored

The Celebration also honored the 2008 Book Sense Book of the Year Award winners, the Publishers Weekly Bookseller and Rep of the Year winners, and the 2008 Lucile Micheels Pannell Award winners.

Khaled Hosseini accepts his 2008 Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Fiction.
Accepting his Book Sense Book of the Year Award in the Fiction category for A Thousand Splendid Suns (Riverhead/Penguin), Khaled Hosseini, said, "Thank you so much for this show of faith in my writing ... support that came long before the publication of [The Kite Runner], and then for handselling the hell out of my books." Sharing his memories of biking to his neighborhood bookstore in Kabul as a boy, he described a growing love of literature fostered by the reading suggestions and encouragement from the store's owner. "I fell in love with books in that store," Hosseini said, "and you can't become a writer of books if you're not a lover of books." Saluting the assembled independent booksellers at the Celebration, he said, "Those of you who chose to make a living in this craft [of bookselling] are cultural ambassadors in the communities you have chosen to serve.... Without that very unique brand of word-of-mouth ... [many writers'] careers would not have taken off."

Also present to receive his award was Children's Literature winner Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scholastic Press), and accepting via videos were Barbara Kingsolver and family for Book Sense Book of the Year Nonfiction winner Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (HarperCollins) and Mo Willemsfor Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Hyperion Books for Children) in the Children's Literature category.

Joel Sheldon, CEO and majority shareholder of Vroman's, Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, said, "Bookstores are institutions that change people's lives ... we affect customers' lives because we answer questions, from the trivial to the most important of their lives." Both Sheldon and Allison Hill, Vroman's president and COO, saluted their bookselling colleagues. Speaking of her "120 extraordinary colleagues," Hill lauded them for their "work to make Vroman's the best it can be and, in our own small way, make the world better through bookselling."

Roy Schonfeld of Abraham Associates, PW's Sales Rep of the Year, told the audience "not to worry about marketshare ... but to concentrate on the cultural impact of bookstores in their communities."

In the Pannell Award specialty category, Flying Pig Bookstore owners Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt were recognized for having "created a place that gives back to everyone who wants to be part of the book community" and for sharing their knowledge and experience with other booksellers at national and regional organizations, including the New England Independent Booksellers Association.

Clark Kepler of Kepler's in Menlo Park, California, accepted the Pannell award with members of his staff, who, he said, "bring books into the community and schools ... and are developing a whole new generation of readers at Kepler's.