Order a side of Okra!  
SIBA Announces the 2009 Fall Okra Picks—great southern books, fresh off the vine.

Okra Picks(Columbia, SC)-Summer is winding down and the harvest is coming in and Southern Indie Booksellers have a selected a basket full of books for the Fall 2009 Okra Picks. Thirteen books made the final list, and include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s and young adult titles.  All the books have the following things in common:  1) They are Southern in nature. 2) They are Fall 2009 releases and 3) There is a SIBA member Bookstore who is really excited about this book. Southern booksellers love their Southern authors!

The Okra Picks, Fall 2009 Edition:


A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory
Overlook Press, September 2009
9781590202500 $25.95 Fiction

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks
Grand Central Publishing, September 2009
9780446581646 $25.99 Fiction

Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle
Algonquin, September 2009
9781565126329 $19.95 Fiction

Rebel Yell: A Novel by Alice Randall
Bloomsbury, September 2009
9781596916685 $25.00 Fiction

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
Pocket Books, November 2009
9781439109656 $7.99 Fiction

The Widow and the Tree by Sonny Brewer
MacAdam/Cage, October 2009
9781596923331 $23.00 Fiction

Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts by N.M. Kelby
Borealis Books, September 2009
9780873517676 $15.95 Fiction

Wyatt’s Revenge by H. Terrill Griffin
Oceanview Publishing, November 2009
9781933515533 $25.95 Fiction


Give My Poor Heart Ease by William Ferris
University of North Carolina,
November 2009
9780807833254 $35.00 Music

The Long Snapper: A Second Chance, a Super Bowl, a Lesson for Life by Jeffrey Marx
HarperOne, September 2009
9780061691393 $24.99 Biography

The Soul Tree: Poems and Photos of the Southern Appalachians by Laura Hope-Gill
Grateful Steps, September 2009
9781935130079 $49.95 

Children’s & Young Adult
Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown
Putnam, September 2009
9780399250309 $16.99 Juvenile Fiction

Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass
Candlewick, September 2009
9780763635831 $17.99 Childrens

Watch for more Okra Picks promotions.  There will be The Okra Picks Patch at  Lady Banks will introduce The Okra Picks to over 5000 consumer subscribers in the October issue.  Okra Pick titles will be highlighted on the Southern Indie Bestseller list. SIBA will post at marketing and promotional materials as part of an “Okra Picks toolkit” for booksellers to help them talk up these titles. 
For more information on the Okra Picks program, visit SIBA’s website at

Wanda Jewell, Executive Director
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
3806 Yale Avenue, Columbia, SC 29205
Fax: 803.779.0113


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2009 SIBA Book Award Winners Announced

A hard-as-nails woman. A hard-drinking man. A city that sings the blues and serves it up with red beans and rice. A lost dog and a lost cat and a lost world waiting to be discovered. It can all be found here…the best in Southern Literature as chosen by the people who would know. . .Southern Independent Booksellers

Columbia, SC - July 4, 2009 -
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 SIBA Book Award, celebrating the best of southern literature:

The 2009 SIBA Book Award Winners:

FICTION: Serena by Ron Rash, Ecco

Ron Rash eloquently writes about something near and dear to so many of us in the south cherish , our autonomy. The takeover of our southern woodlands by the federal government is just another instance of some difficulties our southern fathers had to endure for the good of all. He tells this almost forgotten piece of history as though he were there.–Books on Main, Newberry, SC

POETRY: Dear Darkness by Kevin Young, Alfred A. Knopf

Kevin Young's Dear Darkness is a moving reflection on love, death, family and memory. He moves nimbly from grief to joy, sex to sorrow, and though his poetry is often intensely personal, it reaches out to us all. His poems need to be read aloud to relish his gift with language. His odes, to everything from His Sex to Barbeque Sauce, always surprise, like these lines from Ode to Watermelon: I want to devour/like grief, this life/to the rind-- to leave/ not white,/only green,/ behind.–Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

COOKBOOK: Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose, Random House

"This cookbook exemplifies the best of Southern hospitality: it is warm and inviting and makes you feel like you and the author are the best of friends, exchanging recipes and shopping tips while lingering over the author's signature Sweet Tea Pie." – Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

NONFICTION: The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg, Random House

"A truly gut-wrenching story of Bragg's journey from the darkness of his childhood to the lightness of fatherhood.  He bravely shows us that while fathers can control and influence our lives, in the end, we all find our own way.  Instead of succumbing to his tragedies, he overcomes them with stunning success.  We should all be this strong." –Raven Bookstore, Homer, LA

CHILDRENS: Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery, Walker & Company

The emotional impact of "The Two Bobbies" was undiminished on the third and fourth reading. It's a great story for children and animal lovers of all ages.–Enterprise Books, DeWitt, AR

YOUNG ADULT: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Harcourt Children’s Books

First, I read it straight through without breathing, hooked on the fast-paced adventure.  Then I read it through again slowly, breathing deeply and enjoying each word.  I was enchanted by the characters--their depth and mystery.  Days later, I still couldn't get Graceling out of my mind.”  –Gottwals Books, Warner Robins, GA

Each year, hundreds of booksellers across the South vote on their favorite hand-sell books of the year. These are the Southern books they have most enjoyed convincing their customers to try; the books they have become evangelists for; the ones that they couldn't stop talking about; the ones most often pushed into a customer's hands with the words "You have got to read this!" The SIBA Book Award was created to recognize great books of Southern origin, as determined by people whose business it is to know great books-the independent booksellers of the South.

Books are nominated in six categories, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, cooking, young adult and children's. For a book to be eligible, it must be set in the South, and it must have been published within the calendar year. Only SIBA-member booksellers can submit nominations and vote on the selection of finalists. In 2008, for the first time, winners were selected by a jury of SIBA booksellers.

For more information about the SIBA Book Awards please visit SIBA's website at

About Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) is a trade association which represents booksellers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Find a SIBA Bookstore. SIBA exists to empower, promote, and celebrate core member bookstores in a spirit of partnership. Independent, privately held, brick and mortar bookstores in our region constitutes the core members. Included in our membership are owners, managers and employees of independent bookstores, publishers' representatives, publishers, wholesalers and producers of "sideline" bookstore goods. Librarians, book reviewers, writers and other "friends of the trade" are also represented in our membership.

SIBA was formed to unite in one organization individuals and businesses actively engaged in the writing, selling, publishing, distribution and/or promoting of books in the Southeast United States. SIBA provides a forum to discuss common problems and share ideas; offers educational programs and workshops for the benefit of its members; and strives to promote a high standard of ethics and business practices among the membership.

The Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell.  These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction.  Southerners love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of southern titles not to be missed each season.

SIBA has developed the Okra Picks program in response to feedback from its bookseller members who wanted the opportunity to promote current and upcoming southern titles.

The SIBA Book Awards are designed to give longer legs to books that have already been published.  SIBA’s Indie Stores and SIBA want to recognize those authors and thank them for the books that have added to the bottom line and to see those titles continue to grow in popularity and readership.

The Okra Picks are a whole new crop just hitting bookshelves that SIBA stores know their customers are going to love.  The first dozen Okra Picks will be for the fall and will be displayed at the SIBA Trade Show in Greenville, SC, for the first time. 

A new harvest of Okra picks will be announced each publishing season.  To nominate a book to be an Okra Pick send your nomination to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The first nomination period is between now and September 1. SIBA will be soliciting publishers for galley offers and “advanced access” requests which it will then forward on to SIBA bookstores. 

Once the Okra Picks are chosen, SIBA will be actively promoting these titles to both consumers and booksellers.  There will be The Okra Picks Patch at  Lady Banks will introduce The Okra Picks to over 5000 consumer subscribers in the September issue.  SIBA will post at publisher-provided marketing materials on The Okra Picks toolkit for booksellers as well as SIBA-designed materials to promote The Okra Picks.


2009 marks the tenth anniversary of the SIBA Book Awards.  For a decade southern booksellers have been honoring the books that they especially loved, the ones they most enjoyed putting into the hands of their customers with the earnest words “You’ve got to read this.”

The SIBA Book awards were created, not just to recognize great Southern books, but to give southern readers an enviable list of books to enjoy, read, buy, and give as gifts.  As of this time, the SIBA Book Award remains one of the most far-reaching and high-profile awards for Southern literature.

These fine  Finalists will be judged by a jury of SIBA booksellers. And on July, 4th – Independence Day, the Winners will be announced.  In September, in Greenville, SC, at the annual SIBA Trade Show, the winners and finalists will be recognized.


Almost Invisible:  Black Patriots of the American Revolution, Kate Salley Palmer (Warbranch Press)
If Animals Kissed Goodnight, Ann Paul, David Walker (illus) (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
Two Bobbies, Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery (Walker & Company)


Bon Appetite, Y’all, Virginia Willis (Ten Speed)
Holy Smoke:  The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, John Shelton Reed & Dale Volberg Reed (University of North Carolina Press)
Screen Doors & Sweet Tea, Martha Hall Foose (Random House)


The House on Tradd Street, Karen White (Penguin)
Mudbound, Hilary Jordan (Algonquin)
Serena, Ron Rash (Ecco)


Belle Weather, Celia Rivenbark (St. Martin’s Press)
The Prince of Frogtown, Rick Bragg (Random House)
Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Berkley Trade)


Beanball, Gene Fehler (Clarion Books)
Dear Darkness, Kevin Young (Knopf)
Signals, Ed Madden (University of South Carolina Press)

Young Adult:

Graceling, Kristin Cashore (Harcourt Childrens Books)
Lock & Key, Sarah Dessen (Viking)
Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown)