SIBA believes in its booksellers and takes a leap of faith

(Columbia, SC)—In order to demonstrate the collective clout of independent bookstores and booksellers in the South, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) has taken an unprecedented, and daring, step. In a new policy just announced to its members this week, SIBA has offered to forgo collecting membership dues from its stores for the upcoming year if the stores in turn will allow SIBA to place a single banner ad on their store websites.  The ad, whose content will be sold by and controlled by the organization, will appear simultaneously on every participating SIBA store site for the duration it is booked—giving it extensive regional exposure.

“We are always looking for ways to show the impact and clout our stores have on the market,” said SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell, who says she envisioned a “circle” of store websites collectively promoting the same title, at the same time, to their customers—something she is confident will both help boost sales of the book and raise the visibility of the stores with publishers.

“Of course, waiving the dues for stores that participate is a real carrot,” said Jewell, who acknowledges that the economy remains a challenge to SIBA’s member stores and that they need to find ways to cut expenses. “We’re happy we’ve found a way to help, and can still give stores access to all the many benefits of being a member of SIBA.” she said.

But forgiving dues for participating stores is not without its own repercussions for the organization. SIBA relies on income from membership dues and is therefore betting that revenue generated from the ad space on store sites will make up what would have been collected in dues.  Jewell says she is confident that will happen—so confident that she regards the collective advertising model as an entirely new way for trade organizations like SIBA to operate.

According to Jewell, the response from stores so far has been “very enthusiastic.” Within hours of announcing the program more than twenty stores had signed up, included such high-profile booksellers as Books & Books in Miami, Florida, Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama, and The Regulator in Durham, North Carolina.

The current list of participating stores includes the following (and more are added daily):

A Novel Experience - Zebulon, GA
As the Page Turns - Greenville, SC
Author Squad – Huntersville, NC
Bay Books – Bay St. Louis, MS
Bayou Books - Gretna, LA
Beauty and the Book – Jefferson, TX
Blue Elephant Bookshop - Decatur, GA
Book and Cranny – Statesboro, GA
Bookin it! – Belmont, NC
Books & Books  - Coral Gable, FL
Book Swap of Carrollwood – Tampa, FL
Bound to be read– Atlanta, GA
Burry Bookstore - Easley, SC
Capitol Books & News – Montgomery, AL
Chapters Bookshop – Galax, VA
City Lights - Sylva, NC
Deb's Bookstore – Cullman, AL
Dee Gees - Morehead City, NC
Eagle Eye Books – Atlanta, GA
Family Bookshop – DeLand, FL
Fiction Addiction - Greenville, SC
Fireside Books and Gifts – Forest City, NC
Flyleaf Books – Chapel Hill, NC
Hall Book Exchange – Gainesville, GA
Island Bookstore - Duck, NC
Literary Book Post - Salisbury, NC
Lorelei Books - Vicksburg, MS
Malaprops Bookstore & Cafe - Asheville, NC
Orchard House Books - Smithfield, NC
Pablo's on Market - Athens, AL
Page & Palette – Fairhope, AL
Page After Page – Elizabeth City, NC
Phillips & Lloyd - Hayesville, NC
Quartermoon Books - Topsail Island, NC
Regulator – Durham, NC
Retro Cinema & Books – Washington, GA
Simple Pleasures Books & Gifts – Ashland, VA
Spellbound Books - Asheville, NC
Sundial Books - Chicoteague Island, VA
Swift Books – Orangeburg, SC
That Bookstore in Blytheville – Blytheville, AR
The Bookstore – Huntsville, AL
Two Sisters Bookery – Wilmington, NC
Words Bookstore – Hardy, AR
Yawn's Books - Canton, GA

The SIBA Bookstore Banner Program is not the first time the organization has experimented with collective advertising. Earlier this year SIBA, in cooperation with the eight other regional booksellers associations, implemented a banner ad program that appears on each of the nine associations’ websites.  But that program is targeted towards industry, where as the Bookstore Banner Program is designed to reach directly into the consumer market.

“It’s a much more ambitious undertaking,” said Nicki Leone, SIBA’s Web site administrator. “We’re coordinating dozens of sites with a weekly rotating series of banners.” Over the next few weeks, SIBA will be concentrating on helping its stores to add the special banner links to their Web sites and testing the delivery system. The Circle of Sites banner ad has already begun to appear on some store sites.

Leone added that SIBA will also be working with bookstores so they know the schedule of upcoming ads, and providing statistical information to publishers so they can evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

The SIBA Bookstore Banner Program will go live on January 1st. SIBA has designed a creative pricing model that will be attractive to publishers.

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.