The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association has named Alex George, the owner of Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Mo., its 2022 Bookseller of the Year. The award is given annually to a bookseller who “makes an extraordinary impact upon their community.”

In a release, MIBA called George “a powerhouse of literary accomplishment. Because of Alex George, Columbia has become a literary haven where the community comes together to celebrate the transformative power of books and reading.”

In an email nominating George for the honor, Pamela Klinger-Horn, a bookseller at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn., wrote “Alex George has proven himself to be a force of nature in his community. With Alex George and Skylark Bookshop, Columbia glows like a metropolis of literacy.”

A recent PW profile of Skylark Bookshop that was part of its spotlight on bookselling series called George, an Oxford-educated British expat, a “literary-jack -of-all-trades.” Besides being a bookseller, George is the author of three novels and the founder of the Unbound Book Festival that has taken place in Columbia every spring (except 2020 and 2021) since 2015. The free event draws several thousand people to Columbia and features a slate of marquee authors, including George Saunders in 2019, who famously declared while there: “Events like the Unbound Book Festival will save this country.”

George opened Skylark Bookshop in 2018, he told PW, because the community so embraced the literary festival – and there was no indie in Columbia selling new books. The bookstore, which has a simple motto – “Because Books” -- is located in a 2,700-square-foot space in a historic building in downtown Columbia. Skylark is the official bookstore for Unbound – and its bestselling title is George’s 2020 release, The Paris Hours.

George will officially receive his Midwest Bookseller of the Year Award on October 12 during an awards ceremony kicking off this year’s Heartland Fall Forum.