The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association announced this morning that it has launched an annual prize called the Midwest Bookseller of the Year, which honors excellence in bookselling.

The award will be presented each year to a bookseller affiliated with any indie in the MIBA region: North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. Eligible booksellers may be full or part-time, an owner, or a frontline bookseller.

MIBA launched the award, assistant director Robert Martin explained, "because we frequently see our members accomplishing incredible things. They deserve to be recognized by the industry as a whole." It's also, a way to raise the profile of booksellers to consumers, he noted. "Bookselling is often misconceived as similar to other forms of retail as a occupying a 'middleman' position between manufacturers and customers. [MIBA] aims to correct this misconception by celebrating the significant impact booksellers have on their colleagues, their communities, and on the book industry as a whole."

Nominations for this year's award are now open, and and any book industry professional may nominate someone through April 30. MIBA staff and its board of directors will determine the finalists, then vote on the winner.

The winner will be announced in early July, and honored at the annual Heartland Fall Forum book awards celebration, held this year on October 3 at the Historic Union Depot in Minneapolis. The winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Heartland, including all nights at the conference hotel, a $400 scholarship to cover travel expenses, and entry to all ticketed events.