Linda Cannon, co-owner of Parson Weems’ Publisher Services, died on December 5 following a brief illness. She was 68.
A longtime bookseller and sales rep, Cannon joined Parson Weems' in 2003 after an interlude working in the tech industry. She later became a partner and, in 2014, she and fellow partner Eileen Bertelli purchased the company from co-founders Colwyn Krussman and Chris Kerr.
“Linda was my business partner and my friend,” said Bertelli. “She loved being a book sales rep and the business of publishing. Of the many books we saw each season, Linda always found something special in them. She truly enjoyed working with publishers, authors and, most of all, with her booksellers across the territory.”
Cannon’s death came as a surprise, Kerr said: “We are still in shock and coming to grips with her unexpected passing.” He remembered his friend and colleague as “a voracious reader. She was widely admired for her direct, forceful manner, her integrity, and her commitment to her customers, her client publishers, and the industry.”
In 2017, Cannon was awarded the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s Kristin Keith Sales Rep of the Year award, and booksellers and publishers responded to the news of her passing with sorrow. NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler said Cannon had helped make Parson Weems “an invaluable rep group, with some of the best reps in the industry.” Dengler added: “She was so warm and fun to be with and when she came in the room, it just lit up. She was always thinking of others, whether to pay a compliment or help solve a problem.”
Former New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer echoed Dengler's sentiment. "She and I shared similar outlooks, especially our politics," Fischer said. "She was a champion of the decent folks, but there was nothing more entertaining than Linda’s rants against the bad guys, Trump in particular. They were served with a sly grin and sheer pleasure at her own outrage. She added spice everywhere she went."
Among Cannon's client publishers was Island Press, whose publisher David Miller remembered Cannon as "a consummate professional and a true friend. Her deep experience," he added, "was, of course, an important asset to us. But her enthusiasm and commitment to our books, our authors, and our mission was invaluable and inspiring. We, and all of publishing, will miss her greatly."
Cannon was born on June 4, 1951, in Rochester, N.Y. In the 1970s and early 1980s, she worked in college and independent bookstores in Cleveland and Pittsburgh before joining a commission group led by Jade Ide as a sales rep. Prior to a stint working for Internet startups, she also worked for Merrimack Book Services in the Southwest. She ultimately returned to Pittsburgh and later settled in Baltimore.
Receiving her award from NAIBA in 2017, Cannon said: “Working with the amazing and passionate booksellers in the mid-Atlantic has been as fun and rewarding as anything I have done in my decades as a bookseller. Through the good times and bad, we persist.”