SIBA Book Award Looks to the Future

Since it was first begun in 1999, the SIBA Book Award has become one of the most successful initiatives of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Today, nearly ten years later, the list of award-winners represents some of the finest examples of Southern literature, and the award has become a fully entrenched respected entity among Southern booksellers and publishers. SIBA feels that is now time to take the SIBA Book Award to the next level.

SIBA has always maintained that the primary goal of the SIBA Book Award is to help its bookstore members sell more books. But for this to happen, the Award needs to continually raise its profile until it holds a place in the hearts of readers analagous to that of the Newbery or Caldecott medal, whose announcements are greeted with near-universal interest. A successful book award needs to capture the attention not just of publishers and eligible authors, or the booksellers who are the soul of the nomination and selection process, but also the reading public at large—the book club organizers and librarians, educators and book reviewers, and the avid readers from all walks of life. In order to further the goal of raising the visibility of the SIBA Book Award, and, hopefully, book sales for the nominated, finalist and winning titles, SIBA is taking two steps in 2008: I. SIBA Book Award & the Decatur Book Festival

Beginning in 2008, the SIBA Book Awards Ceremony will be held as part of the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day Weekend in Decatur, GA. The festival, which attracts upwards of 60,000 attendees each year, is open to the public and promises to garner increased exposure for the awards and the award-winning books and authors. SIBA will have a presence at the Decatur Book Festival with as many independents booksellers as can participate. The Decatur Book Festival will host a private reception for the authors and SIBA’s core members before the public awards ceremony, and the awards themselves will be included in the general festival publicity. In order to make the Award process as transparent and meaningful as possible, SIBA will also dispense with some of the past requirements for book award winners. Guaranteed attendance at the award ceremony is no longer required (although, with its presence at a major Southern Book Festival now assured, it is to be hoped that both winning authors and finalists will not pass up the opportunity to come). SIBA is also dispensing with the restriction that authors cannot win in the same category twice, or that the author must be living in order to win. The only restrictions that still apply are that the author must be southern or the book must be set in the south (preferably both), and that it must have been originally published in the previous calendar year. The nominations have been submitted—a process which SIBA hopes its member stores will use to engage the interest of their customers—and SIBA Booksellers have voted for their favorites. The finalists will be announced very soon. Winners will be chosen by a jury of SIBA booksellers after reading each of the finalists. SIBA wishes to thank Lenz Marketing who is both sponsoring the prize and will be working to promote the festival and the SIBA Book Award.

II. The 100,001 Book Project

In order to translate the increased visibility of the SIBA Book Award into increased book sales for SIBA members, SIBA will launch the 100,001 Book Project at the Decatur Book Festival. SIBA will showcase and share display ideas, online content, events, broker author appearances, provide templates for signage, and launch a full scale public relations program around the Awards in order to reach the consumer market directly. Participating bookstores will be asked to track the sales of the short listed (finalist) titles from Labor Day through year end with the goal of selling 100,001 books. SIBA will also continue to support the awards effort by including the finalists and winners in the SIBA Holiday Catalog, which is distributed to about a million and a half consumers every holiday season.