SIBA News

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 sibaweb.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2019

SIBA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO RETIRE AFTER 30 YEARS; 
SEARCH ANNOUNCED FOR SUCCESSOR

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

A letter from the SIBA Board

Kimberly Daniels TawsDear fellow SIBA member,

As she mentioned in her letter to all of us, Wanda will be retiring a little less than a year from now. I hope that you join me in thanking Wanda for sharing her exceptional energy and innovative mind with us for three decades.

One thing is for certain… Wanda Jewell has been a central character in Southern booksellers’ lives for a long time. In particular; I want to thank Wanda for ushering Southern booksellers into the digital age by working tirelessly to give us the skills and capabilities to thrive. I want to thank her for her innovation and policy governance support and her passionate work to increase the awareness of Southern Independent bookstores importance within our industry and communities. Many of our author friends thank her for giving them a platform.

Wanda has been extremely generous with the time frame of her departure. She will continue to serve as ED until June 2020. We have ample time for a thorough search and graceful transition process. To facilitate this, the board has hired The Nexus Institute principal  Nanette Blandin to help begin our 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.

Nanette will be at the Discovery Show in Spartanburg to interview our membership and stakeholders and will help us to look at the priorities, characteristics and vision for this position and SIBA in the years to come. The board will formally introduce her at the SIBA annual meeting but please consider signing up here for a one-on-one private and confidential session with Nanette to give us some feedback.

A Search Committee will be named within the month and the group will start meeting this fall to begin the search process.

Transition periods can be exciting opportunities; and I am excited for both SIBA's future and Wanda’s new chapter as a grandmother-plus!

Thank you again Wanda for all of the fun we have had together and I encourage booksellers to please contact me, any of our board members or Nanette if you have questions. 

Kimberly Daniels Taws
SIBA President

Okra Picks2018 Fall Okra Picks

The end of summer and beginning of fall brings with it a new harvest of Okra (Picks). Southern indie booksellers have chosen a bushel of the best Southern books of the upcoming season, October to December.  Each of the 18 books on the list was hand-picked by an enthusiastic Southern bookseller as something they are especially looking forward to. Okra Picks are the “You’ve Got to Read This!” list for the upcoming holidays.

Becoming Mrs. LewisBook of the Just: Book  Three of the Bohemian TrilogyThe Dream DaughterSouthern Discomfort: A  MemoirLouisiana's Way HomeScribe