When a new bookstore opens, Marsha Wood is likely to have had a hand in what books are on the shelf. In her 15 years with Ingram Content Group, she has helped more than 300 independent bookstores, from the Book Bar in Denver to the Lit. Bar in Brooklyn, select their opening inventories. This year alone, Wood has already taken on 20 more new stores. At the same time, she guides established sales accounts through an expanding catalog of books from Ingram Publisher Services and its distribution partners.

Wood’s career in books might not have been entirely fated, but she says it certainly comes close. Before taking her current positions at Ingram as field rep in the Southern states and new store specialist, she spent 25 years working in college textbooks, beginning with Wallace’s College Textbook Company in Kentucky.

Last year may have tested the trade and placed the industry into turmoil. But through it all, wrote Ingram director of field sales Ron Smithson in his nominating letter, Wood spent hours walking booksellers through Ingram’s ordering website and teaching them how to manage direct-to-home orders and other programs and services. During the pandemic, she also developed a newsletter to give booksellers updates on new title releases, shipping information, and other industry concerns.

“I felt it was necessary to provide the stores I work with the best and most accurate information,” Wood says. “They deserved at least this. I emailed my stores, almost daily, in what was going on in our warehouses, with order fulfillment, shipments, and deliveries, as well as providing industry news as it became available.”

In her nominating letter, Linda-Marie Barrett, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, called Wood “a hero through Covid. Her daily emails to booksellers on stock levels and shipment issues, with guidance and honesty, have also been filled with so much heartfelt compassion and humor. I look forward to her emails because each one is like a big hug that affirms, ‘We’re all in this together.’ ”

Julia Green, manager of Front Street Books, in Alpine, Tex., agreed, writing in her letter that Wood’s emails “helped immensely throughout this pandemic.”

Wood says, “My beautiful, resilient, hard-working, bookselling customers provided me with the strength to keep on keeping on.” For her, deepening those relationships during a time of crisis was an imperative—one that she was proud to embrace. “Flux, change, pivoting, transformation, shifting, all the words, all the feelings, became the unlikeliest bond for all of us.”

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