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)

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!