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)

ABA President Gayle Shanks today e-mailed bookstore members the news that the Board has offered the position of association CEO to Oren J. Teicher, ABA's current COO. The decision follows current CEO Avin Mark Domnitz's decision to step down. Teicher's appointment is effective June 1, 2009. Shanks' entire communication to ABA members is below.

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that after a full and thorough search the ABA Board of Directors has offered the position of our new CEO to Oren J. Teicher. We are delighted that Oren has accepted this appointment, effective June 1, 2009. As many of you know, Oren has been involved with ABA and independent bookstores for more than 20 years. At ABA, he has worn many hats. He was our Associate Executive Director, Director of Government Affairs, founding President of ABFFE, and, for the past 12 years, has been our Chief Operating Officer. Oren's knowledge of, and passion for, independent bookselling is well known to booksellers across the country. He has played an integral part in our IndieBound Local First initiatives, and he serves as an advisor to independent business alliance boards and other independent retail trade associations.

The Search Committee consisted of myself; Steve Bercu (BookPeople, Austin, TX); Betsy Burton (The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT); Linda Ramsdell (The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT); Michael Tucker (Books Inc., San Francisco, CA); and Lilla Weinberger (Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA); together with ABA's General Counsel, Deanne Ottaviano of Arent Fox LLP. We interviewed multiple candidates after reviewing hundreds of resumes. Though several of the other applicants were very highly qualified, the committee unanimously recommended Oren to the full Board as the right person for the job. His encyclopedic knowledge of everything associated with ABA's past and current programs, coupled with his thoughtful and insightful analysis of how ABA can meet our future challenges, combined to make him our clear choice.

As everyone knows, Oren will be succeeding Avin Mark Domnitz, our esteemed current CEO, who announced this past January that he will be retiring. Avin has served ABA and independent bookselling with extraordinary distinction. I am pleased to report that at BookExpo America this year we will be gathering together to celebrate Avin's many contributions to our industry. Plan on joining the entire book community on Thursday evening, May 28, at 9:00 p.m. at "Hotel ABA" (aka the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge) as we salute Avin and all he has accomplished. Additional details about this celebration will be forthcoming in BTW, but, please, do put it on your calendar right away.

As I wrote back in January in my letter announcing Avin's decision to retire, we are very proud of the fact that under his leadership, ABA has become an organization that is open and responsive to its members. We have come a long way in breaking down barriers to communication while encouraging interaction on all levels among booksellers, publishers, wholesalers, the ABA Board, association staff, and the book-loving world. The Board and Oren are totally committed to continuing and maintaining that kind of organization.

During these extremely difficult economic times, the enormous challenges facing ABA and independent booksellers cannot be overestimated. I am convinced, however, that the association's brilliant and dedicated staff under Oren's knowledgeable and enthusiastic leadership -- along with the remarkable resiliency and entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes ABA members -- will help us through this period and that independent bookselling will not just survive, but will once again thrive!

As recommended several years ago by our Governance Review Committee, details surrounding the new CEO contract will be made available to the membership after they are finalized. The Board wants to assure the membership that the terms of the new CEO's contract will fit well within the norm for trade associations of our size. The hiring of a new CEO is an appropriate time to conduct a review of all of the association's programs and expenses, and the Board has requested that Oren undertake that effort. To that end, I know that he will welcome your ideas and thoughts, so please feel free to contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I want to express my warmest thanks to the members of the Search Committee for the honesty, integrity, and intensity put forth during these past months and for their gracious willingness to put their personal needs aside for the common good of ABA and the bookselling community. The membership should have full confidence in the search process -- it was conducted thoughtfully and fairly.

I know that all booksellers, along with our book industry colleagues, will want to join the Board in congratulating Oren on becoming ABA's new CEO and to wish him well in his new position! These are challenging times, but by working together we will continue to create the literary landscape in this country, build our local economies, and bring books to readers.

Warm regards,

Gayle Shanks
ABA President
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85283

Increase Your Karmic Footprint

Wanda Jewell has a problem. After serving nearly 20 years as Executive Director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) she is overrun with books. All kind of books; finished copies and galleys, advance reading copies, advance reader editions, paperback and hardbound, slip-covered and not, limited editions, signed and unsigned, personalized and not. Books here, books there, books, books, everywhere…and each publishing season brings more. It was while she was contemplating the management of her extensive personal library, (with the television news on in the background) that Wanda had her “Aha!” moment: How to weed her collection and support her southern indie bookstores at the same time? In a flash of Obama-induced inspiration, Wanda created her own Free Book Stimulus Plan.

Books can be purchased anywhere. So why shop at indie bookstores? Because buying a book at your local indie bookstore doesn’t just stimulate your reading, it stimulates your local economy. Shopping local is an investment in your own neighborhood and good karma all around. And because you can get a free book!

ABA President Gayle Shanks Urges Congress to Support Small Businesses

On Monday, February 9, as Congress worked to quickly pass the Obama Administration's stimulus package, American Booksellers Association President Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, urged the Congressional leadership to continue its support for small businesses in crafting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R.1).ABA is also calling on all member booksellers to contact their legislators in Washington as soon as possible to urge support for the bill's small-business provisions.

In her letter, Shanks thanked the Congressional leadership for "recognizing the crucial importance of small businesses and for keeping the small business provisions in the current version" of the economic stimulus bill, and she urged them to remember the "value of small businesses" as they create the final version of the bill. (To read the full text of Shanks' letter, click here.)

A vote on the economic stimulus bill could come as early as Tuesday, February 10. If it passes the Senate, the U.S. Congressional Conference Committee will adjudicate the bill, and there are no guarantees regarding what provisions will, or won't, remain in the final bill. As such, ABA is calling on booksellers to adapt Shanks' letter and send it to their legislators in both the House and the Senate today.

Among other provisions, the economic stimulus bill that passed the House in late January increases the guarantee on Small Business Administration loans for lenders, which will induce commercial lenders to lend while also providing capital for entrepreneurs through a new debt-refinancing program. The bill also contains provisions to unclog frozen secondary credit markets, which in recent months have stopped working, denying private lenders the liquidity they need to make additional loans. Providing this fresh capital to entrepreneurs is expected to result in the creation or retention of 400,000 jobs, more than 15 percent of the jobs the economy shed last year.