In a clean sweep for the heartland, Anderson’s Books, which includes Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville and Downer’s Grove, Ill., ABCFairs, and Two Doors East, and Milwaukee-based sales rep John Eklund, with Harvard, Yale, and MIT presses, were named this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year and Rep of the Year. They will be honored at a ceremony at Book Expo America and in Publishers Weekly’s pre-BEA issue on April 25.
Anderson’s, a fifth-generation family bookstore that traces its roots back 136 years to the founding of W.W. Wickel Pharmacy (now Oswald’s Pharmacy), which sold books and other items before launching a separate bookstore in 1964, received dozens of nomination letters and e-mails. Co-owner Becky Anderson, who will be accepting the award, is currently v-p of the American Booksellers Association and has been selected to serve as president. She is also past president of both the Association of Booksellers for Children and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association.
“I don’t really know of another store as involved in their community as this store, or as involved with their local schools, or as involved with authors or in giving authors a platform. They do everything and they do it a bit better than other stores,” wrote Ev Taylor, regional sales manager for Penguin Books for Young Readers. “As both a publisher and an editor,” said Katherine Tegen of Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in her nomination, “I know that Anderson’s is one of my most important retail partners on both the regional and the national level—for their reach is large. Anderson’s is truly a tastemaker. I don’t know how I would survive in publishing without them.”
John Eklund began repping for Harvard, MIT, and Yale in 1998 after working as a buyer and bookseller at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops. He posts his reports and musings on life as a book traveller on a blog named for his favorite book format, Paper Over Board (paperoverboard.blogspot.com).
In his nomination Jonathon Welch, owner of Talking Leaves...Books in Buffalo, N.Y., wrote, “When I think of how I would define all of the characteristics that make up a great sales rep, John Eklund springs right to mind. Among other things he is passionate without being overbearing, perpetually informed and informative, informal and professional, attentive to the store, the buyers, and the staff, a great listener to bookseller complaints but a strong advocate for his books and presses, well-prepared and insightful. . . . I want to be like him when I grow up.”