The Midwest, or more particularly Chicagoland, continues to dominate independent bookselling. At a ceremony to be held at this year’s BookExpo America, the PW Bookstore of the Year mantle will pass from Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, Ill., to The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, located in Winnetka, Ill. The PW Rep of the Year title returns to New England, where it will be shared jointly for the first time in the 20-year history of the awards by Random House district sales managers Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness.
In addition to the PW award, this year also marks two key anniversaries for the Book Stall. In mid-February it celebrated Roberta Rubin’s 30th year as store owner and the 75th of the founding of the original Chestnut Court Bookstore. The Book Stall is also on track to have its best year after its sales peaked in 2007. “There is no question that the closing of two Borders stores in the area has benefited us,” said Rubin, noting that January and February were up 45% and 28%, respectively. “A special offer to Borders discount members to join our discount club at no cost for the first year resulted in 350 new members. But it is the love of books and of reading in our community that has supported us, even in the lean times.”
In her nomination, Random House district sales manager Laura Baratto, wrote: “I love working with the Book Stall. Roberta has been doing this for 30 years and her enthusiasm is still running high. When they get excited about a book they can sell 400 or 500 copies. When the book is a big hit everywhere that is impressive, but they can do this with books that have not hit so big nationally. They are some of the best handsellers in the business. The store is a must on most author tours. They do a great job with small lunchtime get-togethers, enormous offsite events, and everything in between.”
Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, who share the Random House adult list in New England, are not just known as outstanding reps in the region. Kindness was named this year’s Random House rep of the year, and their Books on the Nightstand blog and podcast averages 27,000 downloads a month from fans across the country. Last year the pair organized Booktopia, a BOTNS weekend retreat at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt. It was so successful that they’re doing it again this spring and adding Booktopias later in the year at Square Books in Oxford, Miss., and Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif.
“If the role of the rep is changing, as it surely is, [Michael and Ann] will be the model for the future,” says Carole Horne, general manager of Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass. “They have become true partners with their accounts, from working with us to figure out promotions, to suggesting new ways to use technology to sell more books and operate more efficiently.”
Look for indepth interviews with the 2012 award-winners in the April 30 pre-BEA issue of Publishers Weekly magazine.