For the first time in over a decade, a New England store has been named PW Bookstore of the Year. Founded in 2004 by four veteran booksellers, Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., quickly became one of the preeminent bookstores in an area that has long been known for its vibrant literary community.
In 2013, longtime Cantabrigians and loyal customers Dina Mardell and David Sandberg purchased the bookstore. Five years later they sold half to a group of nine senior employees, including one of the original founders. Mardell and Sandberg own the other half of the 4,480 sq. ft. store.
As Maureen Karb, head of Como Sales noted in her nomination, Porter Square’s Mardell and Sandberg “have consistently been at the cutting-edge of bookselling: from the store’s Writer in Residence program to their adult book fairs. They have taken a store that was honestly pretty amazing from the beginning, and somehow made it even better. [It’s] just a great all around store.”
The 2020 PW Rep of the Year, Bob Barnett, is marking his 25th year as a sales representative. National sales manager for the University of Texas Press, Barnett was singled out as a good book man with a passion for independent and university press titles.
“I’ve known Bob Barnett for all 25 years of his career as a rep,” wrote Mitchell Kaplan, owner and founder of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., in his nominating letter. “I’ve not met anyone more knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and committed to the books and bookstores he or she represents and services. He truly understands the power of indie and university presses and has turned me on to some of our bestselling titles that I wouldn’t have come across but for Bob knowing me and my store so well. Bob embodies just what a rep ought to be.”
Look for in-depth interviews with the 2020 award-winners in the May 11 issue of Publishers Weekly. The awards will be presented later this year.