Position Announcement

Executive Director

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), a regional non-for-profit trade association, seeks an experienced and entrepreneurial leader to serve as its next Executive Director. The right candidate will be passionate about books and bookstores, have a solid familiarity with the region and the book industry, and have the strategic and administrative acumen needed to help the organization thrive in the future. SIBA is a trade association of independent booksellers and others who are an integral part of the booksellers’ success – authors, publishers, vendors, and publicists.

Independent bookstores have experienced a resurgence in the last ten years, nationally and in the South, by tapping into a deeply held loyalty felt by many for local retailers, the strong sense of community bookstores provide, and for the warm and specialized help offered. Notwithstanding the encouraging trends, indie bookstores must continue to be resourceful, creative, vigilant, and strategic in order to remain competitive in an extremely volatile business environment. SIBA has been an invaluable resource to independent bookstores as they navigate this demanding landscape.

The next Executive Director will inherit a resilient and capable staff, a healthy budget, and a membership filled with high-energy and dedicated booksellers. This is an exciting opportunity to join the organization at such a pivotal time and to make a real difference in the future of independent bookstores.


SIBA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to serving the needs of its member booksellers and helping them to become healthy, profitable, and sustainable enterprises.

  • Membership. SIBA’s membership currently consists of 158 core members who are independent, “brick and mortar” bookstores in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Industry members, totaling about 128, include publishers, authors, vendors, sales reps, and others who support SIBA.

  • Governance. The organization is governed by a five-member Board of Directors with each Director serving a three-year term. The Board meets three times each year, with one meeting held in conjunction with the annual trade show. SIBA operates under the Carver Policy Governance Model, which makes a clear distinction between the policy-making role of the Board and the implementation role of the Executive Director. SIBA is deeply committed to upholding the Carver governance principles and requires that the Executive Director and board members receive formal training in the Model.

  • Staff and Office. The SIBA staff is currently composed of two full-time positions

(Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director) and a contractual employee who is responsible for the website and the design and production of all communication and outreach initiatives. From time to time, external contractors and volunteers are engaged to help with specific tasks and assist during peak workloads. The staff operates virtually with each staff member working remotely. Regular communication, a strong work ethic, and dedication to SIBA’s mission has created an effective and efficient staff operation.

The incumbent, Wanda Jewell, is retiring after a thirty-year tenure as SIBA’s Executive Director.

  • Budget and Finances. The organization’s current operating budget is approximately $500,000 with advertising and sponsorship fees constituting major revenue sources and staff salaries being the largest expense category. The Board of Directors contracts with an external auditor to conduct an annual audit.

  • Conflict of Interest. It is of paramount importance that SIBA staff, volunteers and Board members scrupulously avoid conflicts of interest between the interests of SIBA and their personal interests. This includes both avoiding potential and actual conflicts, as well as perceptions of conflicts of interest.




The objectives of the SIBA Executive Director are set forth in the ends policies, which have been adopted by the Board of Directors. The ends policies provide a broad, yet explicit, framework within which the Executive Director operates. Current mega-ends policies are:

  • Core Members will have the skills/capabilities that contribute to their short- and long-term viability.

  • Core Members will have resources and information that foster innovation and experimentation and will have opportunities to share any knowledge learned, with particular attention to the digital and online experience.

  • Core Members will have resources and information that increase awareness of Southern independent bookstores’ importance within our industry.

  • Core Members will have resources and information to increase public awareness of their importance to the community.


Current programs are designed to provide skills, informational resources, and tools to enhance booksellers’ success and visibility. They include the annual Discovery Show and SIBA in the Springtime - high-energy networking and educational events which draw hundreds of booksellers, authors, publishers, and vendors. Special awards, social media, and marketing tools are designed to increase sales and public awareness of indie bookstores. Also, SIBA’s Peer Review Trust acts as an archive of best practices for bookstores and offers peer review assessments for stores who feel they would benefit from some outside assistance.


The work of the Executive Director is multi-faceted: it involves a myriad of responsibilities including management, sales, event planning, administration, governance, programming, relationship-building, trouble-shooting, problem solving, and idea generation. It is a job that requires multitasking with a focus on both the present and the future. Stakeholders include members, staff, Board members, authors, vendors, publicists, national and regional peer organizations. While exceptional efforts are needed during the time of the annual Discovery Show, the job is demanding and fast-paced throughout the year.

Current responsibilities include:

  • Promoting SIBA and its core members to consumers, authors, publishers, and other industry stakeholders via,, social media, the annual trade show, etc.

  • Bringing in over $500,000 of organizational revenue by selling SIBA’s advertising programs to publishers, authors, and distributors

  • Organizing the annual book trade show for the Southern region

  • Engaging core trade association members with the programs SIBA offers

  • Hiring and managing staff (whether volunteers, independent contractors, or paid employees) needed to implement SIBA’s programs and day-to-day responsibilities

  • Managing SIBA’s finances including a $500,000 budget, tax filings, bookkeeping, etc.

  • Working closely with the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and other regional executive directors to support national programs like Independent Bookstore Day, and ABACUS (ABA’s data collection platform)

  • Informing and supporting the SIBA Board of Directors using the Carver Model of Policy Governance

  • Staying abreast of key trends and developments in the industry and visiting members and other key stakeholders


SIBA has earned a reputation of being smart, entrepreneurial, and willing to take risks without being risky. It is a well-run organization. However, the extremely competitive and dynamic environment in which SIBA members operate requires that the organization be able to respond effectively and quickly to the challenges and opportunities ahead. Top priorities for the next Executive Director are:

  • Governance. Continue effective leadership and governance by utilizing the Carver Policy Governance Model and ensuring that SIBA has the best strategic and managerial tools needed to thrive in the future.

  • Strategic Vision. In order to effectively serve and represent its core members, SIBA needs to keep a constant eye on the external landscape, monitor and assess key trends and developments, and make necessary adjustments in its programs and operations.

  • Organizational Sustainability. Strengthen the organization’s long-term sustainability through sales and fund-raising, finding efficiencies in current programs and operations, adopting more professional best practices, and identifying new revenue sources.

  • Advocacy/Partnerships. Maintain and further strengthen SIBA’s strong reputation for being both a vital voice for promoting Southern literature and authors and an innovative and high-energy organization. Actively seek opportunities to inform publishers and other key influencers about the dynamic nature of the region and the power and success of Southern authors.

  • Communication. A top priority is communication with SIBA’s core members to hear their concerns and needs and to develop programs and services to effectively meet those needs. This should include a regular cycle of visits to bookstores and conducting surveys and other means of soliciting member views. The next Executive Director will take steps to implement effective, transparent, and regular communication about SIBA and to share industry information and key trends with core members.

  • Diversity/Inclusion. Actively seek opportunities to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.

  • Programmatic and Operational Focus. Without weakening the organization’s ability to innovate and experiment with new ideas, work on achieving greater focus and higher quality in those initiatives that are pursued.

  • Technology. Aggressively pursue ways technology can enhance SIBA’s efficiency and effectiveness.


While no one candidate is likely to have all of the following qualifications, the strongest candidates are likely to possess the experiences and qualities listed below:

  • Prior relevant experience with independent bookstores, retail trade associations, publishing, or nonprofit associations

  • Record of leading growth in an organization facing major technological and competitive challenges

  • Strategic thinking; “big picture” perspective with a keen interest in staying on top of broad trends in society and the economy, and the ability to adapt to the changing environment

  • An entrepreneurial orientation; creativity, resourcefulness; willingness to try new ideas

  • An appreciation for Southern literature and the South’s heritage and customs

  • A “people person”; a friendly and warm personality; professional demeanor; ability to interact effectively with diverse booksellers in the region and with publishing executives in New York City and elsewhere

  • Appreciation for the governing principles embodied in the Carver Policy Governance Model; experience with Carver governance and/or training preferred

  • Willingness to understand and continue the special culture that SIBA has built – warm, friendly, fun, non-corporate, and innovative

  • Team player; ability to lead effectively in a virtual office environment

  • Excellent computer and social media skills

  • Strong oral and written communication skills

  • Willingness and ability to travel, to attend conferences, and to visit members and other stakeholders (annual travel weeks per year estimated to be a minimum of ten weeks)

  • Primary residency in the region; if not currently a resident, willingness to make a commitment to relocate

  • If hired, absence of any conflict of interest between SIBA and his/her and his/her immediate family’s financial interests. While a SIBA member is not precluded from applying for the position, he/she and his/her immediate family may not have any financial interest in any company or bookstore within the publishing/book industry once employment as SIBA Executive Director commences.


Evaluation of prospective candidates will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, please submit applications on or before 11:59 pm Eastern December 16, 2019. Each application should include:

  • Email transmittal with the subject heading: SIBA Executive Director Application

  • A current resume

  • A cover letter outlining the candidate’s ability to respond to the challenges and opportunities described in this document

  • Up to three letters of reference (optional)


Applications should be addressed to SIBA Search Committee and sent via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SIBA is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates.

Announcing the 2020 Southern Book Prize Finalists

Southern Book PrizeSouthern independent booksellers have selected the finalists for the 2020 Southern Book Prize, representing bookseller favorites from 2019 that are Southern in nature—either about the South, or by a Southern writer. Nominations were submitted by bookstore members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and culled from books that have received strong reviews from Southern booksellers. The sixteen finalists which received the highest number of nominations are a collection of the most beloved “hand sells” in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature of the year.

The finalists are now placed on the 2020 Southern Book Prize ballot. Winners in each category will be chosen by popular vote from readers who support Southern independent bookstores. Participating bookstores will distribute ballots to their customers, which can be returned to be entered into a raffle to win a complete set of the finalist titles. An online ballot will also be available at

Voting opens the week of the Love Your Bookstore Challenge, November 8-17, 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 8 through February 1, 2020.

2020 is the second year the Southern Book Prize has been opened up to a popular vote. SIBA launched the public ballot for the 2019 prize, shifting the voting period to build momentum and excitement during the holiday season.

“The response from our member stores and the general public was overwhelming,” said SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell. “Everyone got involved – booksellers, readers, authors – in the end nearly 3500 ballots were submitted from all over the South. It was a wonderful affirmation of how important and beloved our member bookstores are to their communities.”

Southern Book Prize winners will be announced on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

2020 Southern Book Prize Finalists

The Dutch House The Magnetic GirlNever Have I EverThe Nickel BoysNothing to See HereThis Tender Land


Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow)
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper)
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler (Hub City Press)
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)

The Furious HoursI Miss You When You BlinkLate MigrationsSouthern Lady CodeTell Me a Story


Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy by Cassandra King (William Morrow)
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (Doubleday)
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott (Atria Books)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)

The Gilded WolvesHum and SwishI Will BE FierceThe King of KindergartenRayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee


Hum and Swish by Matt Myers (Neal Porter Books)
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers)
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong (Roaring Brook Press)
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (Wednesday Books)
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes (Nancy Paulsen Books)


For more information contact:
Wanda Jewell, Executive Director
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Wiley CashWiley Cash, the New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind than Home, This Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad, has been selected to receive the 2020 Conroy Legacy Award. Created in honor of the example set by the beloved Southern author Pat Conroy, the Conroy Legacy Award recognizes writers who have achieved a lasting impact on their literary community, demonstrated support for independent bookstores both in their own communities and in general, created written work that focuses significantly on their home place, and supported other writers, especially new and emerging writers. 

“We are so delighted to see that booksellers have chosen Wiley Cash as their Conroy Legacy Award Recipient,” said Wanda Jewell, Executive Director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, which oversees the Award. “Wiley is a generous southern friend to bookstores and writers.”

In addition to his novels, Cash is the creator of the Open Canon Book Club, which seeks to introduce readers to “voices and portrayals of the American experience they may not have otherwise encountered” and which is supported by independent bookstores in the South and nationwide. He is also a founder of The Land More Kind Appalachian Artists Residency, a week-long residency program for writers, visual artists, musicians, songwriters, and photographers who are either from Appalachia or devoted to creating art representative of the region.

"Pat [Conroy] was one of those successful writers who was also pushing others ahead of him,” said Cash when he was told he would receive the award,  “I've heard story after story from writers whose work he shouldered and shared with the world. He did that for me. We all need to do that for the writers who are coming behind us. He didn't pull the ladder up. He reached a hand down." 

Of the role the Southern independent bookstore community has played in his career, Cash was emphatic: “It's only because the independent bookstores and booksellers embraced my debut that my books have had the success they've had. Indie bookstores put me on the literary map, and they've kept me there. Independent bookstores are the literary, social, cultural, intellectual, and ethical lifeblood of our communities. We go to indie stores to meet authors, discover books, discuss ideas, find community, exchange new ideas and challenge old ones."

A Land More Kind That HomeThis Dark Road to MercyThe Last Ballad

Suzanne Lucey, co-owner of Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC says the regard goes both ways: “We had Wiley to our store and for each book sold he donated a dollar from his own pocket to send to the ACLU. Who does that?”  
“He also has asked to do a writing class at our store,” she added, “and applauded a Clay County, NC high school teacher for introducing Appalachian writers like Ron Rash and David Joy. He really is trying from the bottom up to make our state and country better.”

SIBA will make a donation to the Pat Conroy Literary Center and to the UNC Asheville Foundation in the name of Wiley Cash.

Books by Wiley Cash

  • A Land More Kind Than Home (2012)
  • This Dark Road to Mercy (2014)
  • The Last Ballad (2017)

For more information visit SIBA at

September 3, 2019


The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance announced today, September 3, that Executive Director Wanda Jewell will retire in June 2020.  Wanda says that “Serving as SIBA’s executive director for the past 30 years has been the honor of my life."

"I am so proud of all we have accomplished together," Wanda said in a letter to core members. "SIBA is seen as forward-looking, innovative, and smart – an organization willing to take risks without being risky. I treasure the reputation we have earned."

SIBA president Kimberly Daniels Taws recently shared the Board’s heartfelt thanks to Jewell, saying “Wanda ushered Southern booksellers into the digital age working tirelessly to give everyone the skills to thrive. Her ‘try anything’ attitude has led to fun,  silly times and but mostly to great innovations including the board's adoption of policy governance. We are grateful for all that Wanda has given SIBA. She has epitomized the heart of the organization by her energy, dedication, passion and creative nature."

Taws highlighted some of Wanda’s many accomplishments over her three decades of work at SIBA in a letter to the membership and outlined the upcoming search process. The board has hired The Nexus Institute principal Nanette Blandin to help begin the search. “Nanette is highly recommended by those who have worked with her at the American Booksellers Association in the past. In 2014; she led the search for the ABA’s Chief Financial Officer position and, in 2018, she was the outside consultant to ABA's Governance Review Committee which was tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of ABA's governance and making recommendations for improvement.” says Taws in her letter. The board has set up ample time for SIBA members to give feedback at the upcoming Discovery Show in Spartanburg and will be naming a Search Committee within the month.

Questions about the search can be directed to Kimberly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Nanette at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A letter from the Executive Director

Beloved SIBA Bookseller,

Wanda JewellIt is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from SIBA coming in June 2020.  Serving as SIBA’s Executive Director for the past 30 years has been the honor of my life.  I love this organization and will miss working with you.  However, it is time for me to move on and time for SIBA to find the next Executive Director who will help yall move into the future.

I am so proud of all we have accomplished together, and I’m so proud of the SIBA team.  I am confident I am leaving SIBA in capable hands.  SIBA is seen as forward-looking, innovative, and smart – an organization willing to take risks without being risky. I treasure the reputation we have earned.  Foremost among our accomplishments has been effective use of the Carver governance model.  Our commitment to Carver has given SIBA an edge in terms of our ability to set ambitious priorities and the confidence to implement them. 

The SIBA Board is moving ahead by establishing a Search Committee and engaging the services of a professional search consultant.  More information will be forthcoming about the search, but I do want you to know that the consultant, Nanette Blandin, will be attending the Discovery Show in Spartanburg and will be available to meet with SIBA members.  She will be scheduling meetings on Friday to talk with members about SIBA and to hear their views about the priorities for my successor.  You can schedule an appointment here. I encourage you to meet with Nanette so that your views are heard and taken into account during the search process.

Some of you may be wondering what I will be doing post retirement.  Obviously, I plan to spend a lot of time on the West Coast being a grandmother!  Also, I have many ideas for projects that I would love to pursue.  In the meantime, I’ll be at SIBA doing whatever I can to ensure a smooth transition. 

Thanks to all of you for all that you do. 

Wanda Jewell
Executive Director
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance