This year’s 20th anniversary PW Bookstore of the Year Award goes to Square Books on the historic town square of Oxford, Miss., the center of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County in William Faulkner’s novels. Founded by Richard and Lisa Howorth in 1979, the store has grown into a trio of store fronts over the past three decades. It hosts “Thacker Mountain Radio” show, a live radio show with author readings and musical performances that airs on Mississippi Public Radio, and the annual Oxford Conference on the Book. Later this month it will hold its second annual Camp Square Books for adults—four days of author talks, lectures, hikes, and meals.
“I love the place,” says author John Grisham, a Square Books regular. “When you walk in the front door you can smell books. Time stops, and you want to browse and read and gossip and drink coffee upstairs on the balcony for the rest of the day. If you want a book, it’s somewhere in the store. If you want to know something about a book or an author, Richard or one of his staff will have the answers. If you want to meet authors, they’ll stop by soon enough.”
As Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin noted in a letter to the awards committee, “I am somewhat surprised to find myself writing a letter recommending that Square Books be selected as Bookstore of the Year primarily because I cannot believe it has not been selected before. Square Books is one of the greatest bookstores in America.”
Bruce Joshua Miller of Miller Trade Book Marketing, who led the fight to save the University of Missouri Press after funding was to be ended last May was selected as the 2013 PW Rep of the Year. “I believe Miller is probably the only successful sales representative to spearhead a mass movement to save a major prize-winning university press on the side,” wrote UMP author Jon David Cash (Before They Were Cardinals). UMP consulting director Jane Lago added, “there is no doubt that Bruce has gone behind the call of duty on behalf of the Press. He has put in more hours than can ever be justified by the commissions he earns. He has done so because of his belief in the value of university press publishing.”
Look for in-depth interviews with the 2013 award-winners in the April 29 pre-BEA issue of Publishers Weekly magazine.