Two southern booksellers have been selected as the winners of the inaugural Nancy Olson Bookseller Award. Carol Moyer, bookseller and former Children’s Manager at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, and Todd Ketcham, manager of The Book Cellar in Lake Worth, FL will each receive a check for $2000.
The awards, which will become an annual prize, were launched in 2019 with an anonymous donation from an author who is also an admirer of the late Nancy Olson, founder of Quail Ridge Books. The award honors booksellers who embody the spirit of Olson’s bookselling legacy of supporting writers–especially new writers– other booksellers, and community outreach.
Of winner Carol Moyer, a nominator commented, “While Carol’s greatest satisfaction at QRB may be experiencing the joy of putting the right book in a child’s hands, there’s no doubt that her love of children and children’s books has profoundly touched the community. Her work fits perfectly with Nancy Olson’s own deep commitment to enriching lives.” In their submission for Todd Ketcham, the owners of The Book Cellar praised, “He is more than an employee, he is a conduit between business and community, between people and experiences. We could not run this business without him, and his devotion to books and the people around him set a shining example for all the wonderful things possible when someone can work with their passion each and every day.”
Nancy Olson’s husband, Jim Olson, served as one of the judges for the Award, along with Sarah Goddin, buyer and former General Manager of Quail Ridge Books, and Linda-Marie Barrett, Assistant Executive Director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Jim spoke of his gratitude that the sponsor of this award chose to honor Nancy Olson’s legacy in this way, “Nancy would have loved this. She was a champion of other bookstores and would have loved to have seen booksellers so generously rewarded and acknowledged for the work they do for their communities.”
Upon hearing she had won the award, Carol Moyer replied, “I am honored and humbled to have received this award, an award which will keep the memory of Nancy Olson in front of booksellers each year. She was a shining star in the bookselling world, and she was my inspiration and will always have my endless admiration. That my colleagues selected me for the award this year is very deep praise and I am very grateful. Independent bookstores are a vital piece of the cultural landscape in their communities, as they provide the richness of literature in a setting where folks may gather to explore and share ideas. In that setting, it has been my joy to implement the mission of children’s bookselling to nurture the literacy of the rising generation. There is no greater reward for me than putting the right book in the hands of the right child at the right time. Over the years I have had the immense pleasure of seeing these children grow up to be readers, choosing their own books. As long as we continue to share the best books we can find with children, we will have started them on a life of reaping the rewards of reading. They will grow up treasuring books and bookstores.”
Todd Ketcham responded, “I am beyond honored to have been nominated by my colleagues and patrons. As many booksellers will tell you, we do not do this with the expectation of financial reward. To share the love of reading with our friends and patrons is reward enough. Winning the Nancy Olson Bookseller Award is both a surprise and a much-needed boon. In an era of increasing isolation, it is amazing to me that bookstores retain the oft-overlooked ability to bring people from disparate walks of life together in common purpose. If bookstores are cultural lighthouses erected in our communities, then booksellers are the lighthouse tenders that keep fanning the flames of knowledge. My only hope is that those flames keep burning bright for many a long year.”
The Nancy Olson Bookseller Award will become an annual award, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the anonymous donor.
Todd is pictured with Charlotte Shotgun, who read Charlotte’s Web at Drag Queen Story Hour.