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Announcing the winner of The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

Posted By Nicki Leone, Thursday, June 16, 2016
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016

The Reba and Dave Williams Foundation for Literature and the Arts

Katherine Clark’s The Headmaster’s Darlings Wins
The 2015 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

Sarah Addison Allen Given Special Recognition

The Headmaster's DarlingsThe 2015 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction has been won by Katherine Clark for her The Headmaster’s Darlings. The novel, Clark’s first, is the initial installment of a quartet of books set in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Reba White Williams, sponsor of the award, praised The Headmaster’s Darlings for “its originality, Southerness, and uplifting message, all requisite qualities for the Willie Morris Award.”

Sarah Addison Allen was recognized for her six novels published over the past eight years, beginning with Garden Spells (2007) and more recently First Frost (2015). Allen’s novels are noted for their appealing characters, some appearing in more than one book, and the magical realism that infuses people, places and things. Allen sums up her style as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Her Special Recognition is the first-ever for the Willie Morris Award.

The Headmaster’s Darlings is the ninth Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, which is given annually. For more information, see

Tags:  inkreadible  katherine clark  reba white williams  sarah addison allen 

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SIBA Creates Pat Conroy Scholarships, Sponsored by Penguin Random House

Posted By Nicki Leone, Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016


The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) is pleased to announce the creation of The Pat Conroy Scholarships in honor of the late author whose lifetime achievements have meant so much to Southern booksellers.  The scholarships, which will be bestowed to two booksellers annually in each of the next four years, are made possible by Penguin Random House, whose Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, Dial Press Trade Paperbacks, and Random House Audio imprints publish Mr. Conroy’s works in hardcover, paperback, and audio editions respectively.

These scholarships are designated specifically for booksellers who have never attended a SIBA Discovery Show, held in September, in keeping with the Penguin Random House’s fifteen-year tradition of supporting educational programming for booksellers at the event.  The scholarships will cover up to $1,000 of the winner’s travel, hotel, and meal expenses for the Discovery Show first-timers.  To be eligible, a bookseller must be a full-time employee of a SIBA-member bookstore, working at any level or capacity.

SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell said, “We believe that nurturing the next generation of career booksellers is one of the best things we can do to advance the future of bookselling.  These scholarships Penguin Random House is endowing, which deepen and expands this mutual commitment to foster education at the Discovery Show, are forward-looking, and will mean a lot to every SIBA bookseller.  How appropriate that these awards honor Pat Conroy, who was so kind and generous with all of us, and in particular, to those new to our industry.”

“Pat Conroy is a beloved Penguin Random House author,” said Jaci Updike, President, Sales, Penguin Random House, “and it is a privilege for us to honor his legacy in a manner that benefits new booksellers.  Pat deeply loved books and the men and women who sell them and would be made very happy and proud to have an opportunity to enhance their professional education.” 

Pat Conroy’s A LOW COUNTRY HEART: Reflections on a Writing Life, a new nonfiction collection of pieces spanning the author’s long literary career, has been announced for posthumous hardcover and e-book publication by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday on October 25, one day before his 71st birthday.

To be considered for a Pat Conroy Scholarship, booksellers can self-nominate, or be nominated by other booksellers or sales reps. Owners and managers are strongly encouraged to nominate frontline booksellers who are interested in bookselling as a career. The deadline for nominations for the 2016 Pat Conroy Scholarships is July 15, 2016.

Scholarship recipients will be announced on August 1.​

The 2016 SIBA Discovery show will be held September 16-18 at the Hilton DeSoto in Savannah, Georgia.

To apply, the nominated bookseller should fill out the information below, and email it to

  • YES! I have never been to SIBA and I would love to go.
  • Name
  • Address
  • E-mail address
  • Bookstore: where do you work? How long have you worked there and what is your current role?
  • Make Pat Conroy proud! Please write a short (two paragraphs is ideal) description of why you love being a bookseller and what you hope to get out of SIBA.

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A Letter from the SIBA President: Your Board needs your help

Posted By Nicki Leone, Monday, May 23, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 20, 2016

Dear SIBA members,

Jill HendrixI hope you all had a fantastic 2nd Indie Bookstore Day! Our area challenged customers to visit 7 Upstate SC stores spread 2 hours apart and we had 9 people complete the challenge to earn a 20% discount for the next year at all 7 stores.

I was at BEA briefly and was pleased to meet Jessica Osborne, the new owner of E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, GA. Jessica tells me that her store is a historical building just across the street from the SIBA trade show hotel, The Hilton Savannah DeSoto, and she invites us all to drop in and visit while we’re in town September 16th-18th. SIBA Registration is currently open and Wanda is excited about all the great authors she’s booking. Last year several of the author meals sold out so be sure to register early.

At BEA I also learned that the ABA has helped negotiate some great backlist promotions that you should be hearing about soon. Karen Torres’ walked me through the Hachette promotion and it looks great. So reach out to your reps and ask them whether their houses have any new backlist promotions you should know about. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of working our way through new catalogs and trying to keep our turns up, we find that we’ve let our backlist selections get too slim. This is a perfect opportunity to make sure those books you’ve read and loved are still on your shelves.

Anecdotally, we have always thought SIBA a strong region, but now we actually have some documentation to back that up. The file linked below shows how the SIBA stores who shared their 2014 financial data last year via the ABACUS survey stack up to the ABA average. Across the board we have lower cost of goods sold and thus a higher gross margin. I credit the GABBS show for helping our region find great product at a great cost and driving those margins up.

Additionally our smallest and largest stores are outperforming their national counterparts with higher net income before taxes. We are slightly concerned about our middle-category stores (those selling $300,00 to $1 million annually) and would invite them to reach out to Wanda with their specific education requests for the trade show or other help they might be looking for to improve operations.

Whether you completed the ABACUS survey or not, each of you might find it helpful to run your own 2014 numbers and compare them to your fellow stores to identify your store’s strengths and weaknesses. This will also show you how easy it is to produce the numbers that the ABA will be soliciting soon for the fiscal year 2015 ABACUS survey.

Click here to download ABACUS South compared to the ABA

Given the passing of Harper Lee and Pat Conroy this year, it made me realize we might want to add an Oscar-style tribute to our trade show. Don’t get your visual expectations up too high but in the meantime, please email me the names of anyone you can think of who should be on our remembrance list.

Lastly, I’d like to ask everyone to please make sure their store has entered the data for 3 new questions we’ve added to the SIBA store profile: your store’s square footage, whether your store is in a small town or a city, and whether your store is located downtown/Main Street or elsewhere. To check, visit (you’ll be asked to login) and then look for those three questions right after you’re asked for all your social media URLs. Please take a moment to log in and fill in the blanks for us.  This information is needed before we can send out an important survey, so if you forget to fill it in I’ll be calling and asking you for it next week.

Here’s to a successful beach-reads season and a fun summer!

Jill Hendrix
SIBA President

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Let's Show America We Got HEART!

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Regional Bookstore Challenge
East, west, north, south or mid-America; which region has more heart?Binc board membersDeb Leonard(Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association) andWanda Jewell(Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) have put out a challenge to all independent bookstores to find out!
During the month of May bookstores can begin or increase a sustaining donation to earn points. The winning region will win a special party from Binc during their fall trade show.Here are the rules>

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Politics & Prose Job Posting

Posted By Wanda Jewell, Friday, April 22, 2016

Seeking a full-time events coordinator, including weekend and evening shifts, for the Children and Teens Department.

Duties include:

 Working with publishers and publicists to plan, coordinate, and book in-store and off-site

author events.  

 Managing in-store and off-site author events in collaboration with other booksellers, local

libraries, schools, Busboys, and other venues.  This includes ordering, scheduling school

visits and managing inventory.

 Managing part-time events assistant.

 Thinking creatively about events and explores partnerships with area schools, libraries

and other institutions.

 Collaborating with store event staff on off-site festivals.  

 Working with designated C&T and programs staff to develop classes for children and

young adults.

 Working closely with the marketing team to promote C&T events.

 Representing the bookstore at Children’s Book Guild meetings and other professional

meetings, including the annual BEA, to learn about new titles and talk with publishers

about upcoming author tours.

 Reporting to the department manager.

Duties also include supporting floor staff when necessary.  All staff are expected to read a variety of children’s and teens’ backlist and frontlist titles to maintain knowledge of department inventory, regularly write book reviews for the website and department newsletters.


 Excellent knowledge of children’s and teens’ literature

 Detail-oriented and able to multi-task and prioritize

 Good with people, including building new relationships

 Must be able to handle stressful situations

 Public speaking experience

 Retail/customer service experience preferred

 Knowledge of children’s publishing industry highly desired

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