In a California sweep, 165-year-old Books Inc., the oldest bookstore in the West, will receive this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year award, while the Karel/Dutton Group's Lise Solomon has been named PW Sales Rep of the Year. The honors will be handed out at BookExpo America in May.
Books Inc. is co-owned by Michael Tucker (a past president of the American Booksellers Association); his wife, Margie Scott Tucker; Nikolai Grant; and his wife, Shannon Grant. The store is headquartered in San Francisco and currently operates 11 general interest bookstores with large children’s and YA sections. Nine of the stores are based in neighborhoods, and two, which operate under the name Compass Books, are located in San Francisco International Airport. A new 4,000 sq. ft. location is slated to open in Silicon Valley in June.
In her nominating letter, Donna Paz Kaufman, of the bookstore training and consulting group Paz & Associates, wrote: “Books Inc. stands as not only a model for retail bookselling, its history proves the value of resilience, creativity, persistence, and teamwork." She called Michael Tucker "one of our best, most skilled, professional, and optimistic bookstore entrepreneurs in retail bookselling," noting that he and his team have shown how much they care about "the importance of bricks-and-mortar bookstores for our industry and the quality of life in our communities.”
Booksellers and publishers were equally eloquent about Solomon, a commission rep, who serves on the board of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. As Melinda Powers, head adult book buyer at Book Shop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif., noted in her nomination, “[Solomon] is passionate about books and goes above and beyond for little unsung heroes well before they become award-winning." Powers noted that Solomon was one of the early supporters of shock 2010 Pulitzer winner published by tiny Bellevue Literary Press, Tinkers, and said "her reading taste is impeccable, engendering trust among her buyers; when she loves something, you immediately take notice.”
Look for in-depth interviews with the 2016 award-winners in the April 18 pre-BEA issue of Publishers Weekly magazine.