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Tallahassee's Midtown Reader Releases Video Parody of AI

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida created a wonderfully entertaining and instructive promotional video that emphasizes the power of "Actual Intelligence" over "Artificial Intelligence." In the video, a man asks an artificially intelligent device for book recommendations, to which the device responds with a series of unhelpful answers. The man then visits Midtown Reader, where a friendly bookseller quickly ascertains which book he is looking for (he can’t remember the title, only the illustration on the cover) and shows him where it is. The bookseller’s name? Alexis. (Her name is actually Alexis, and she’s an actual Midtown Reader bookseller.)


Fundamental to the mission of Midtown Reader is a belief that independent bookstores remain cultural treasures because they offer something online retailers cannot. In a brick-and-mortar bookstore with flesh-and-blood booksellers, recommendations are both personal and powered by actual intelligence (as opposed to the artificial variety). What’s more, with regular events like author readings and book clubs, independent bookstores function as community spaces where people can connect over stories, ideas, and perspectives.


Midtown Reader was opened in November of 2016 by Sally Bradshaw, who, after a career in politics, decided to make her childhood dream of owning a bookstore a reality.


“My sister and I spent many hours in our small Mississippi Delta hometown at both our local library and our neighborhood bookstore, sadly long gone now, a victim of Amazon,” Bradshaw wrote in the store’s email newsletter. “Books led me to believe I would grow up to be a detective (thank you Nancy Drew), or a lawyer (thank you Atticus Finch). Ultimately, I settled on public policy, and left home with dreams of changing the world in the political arena. I never imagined that my best and lasting chance to change the world would come in a bookstore.”


After only three years in business, Midtown Reader has become a “destination bookstore” and a bustling community space, with multiple events every week and meaningful partnerships with community organizations and non-profits across Tallahassee. Bradshaw believes that it’s this kind of connectedness, along with caring, knowledgeable booksellers and warm, personal customer service, that make independent bookstores disruptive in an age of online retailers and invaluable always.

Tags:  booksellers 

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Bookazine Holiday Hours

Posted By Nicki Leone, Sunday, November 17, 2019


Bookazine has announced their holiday hours. Take note when placing orders!


November 30 - December 23, 2019

Monday - Friday: 7:00 AM EST - 8:00 PM EST

Saturday: 9:00 AM EST - 4:00 PM EST

Sunday: 10:00 AM EST - 3:00 PM EST


Electronic and web orders accepted 24 hours/7 days

Closed 11/28/2019, 12/25/2019, and 1/1/2020



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B3! Webinar Recap: Launching a Book Festival in Your Community

Posted By Nicki Leone, Thursday, November 14, 2019

Would you like to begin a festival in your town? It’s a lot of work, but can add another dimension and revenue stream to your bookstore, deepen your relationships with community partners, publishers, and authors, and foster a greater appreciation for reading and author interactions in your region and beyond. Listen to four veterans discuss the book festivals they initiated or partner in, and learn some great tips on how to do it right and have fun doing it.

Launching a Book Festival

*Must be logged in to view.

Tags:  B3! Webinars 

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Nominate for the Winter 2020 Okra Picks by November 15

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Wednesday, November 6, 2019
The deadline for booksellers to nominate new titles for the Winter 2020 Okra Picks is November 15. Booksellers can submit through the Okra Picks Nomination Form or through a review on Edelweiss. Nominated books must release during January, February, or March of 2020, and be southern in nature, but can cover any genre, not just fiction, and not just adult titles. The Okra Picks are a baker’s dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA booksellers want to handsell. Let us know your favorites by nominating!

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Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The late Nancy Olson was a legendary bookseller, a first-class wit, a remarkably gentle soul, and a tireless supporter of writers, especially new writers looking for a chance in the publishing world.  Simply put, she was one of the best folks to ever work in the book business, and her Quail Ridge Books was—and is—a literary institution.   An admirer of Nancy’s, in conjunction with SIBA, will be awarding two $2000 gifts in her memory on December 18, 2019.   The Nancy Olson Bookseller Award will then become an annual program.  All SIBA booksellers—but not owners—are eligible for the awards.  Writers, readers, and/or storeowners may submit a name and any helpful information via email to SIBA at .  Also, individual booksellers may nominate themselves.  While the emails should explain why a particular nominee deserves to be selected, there are no hard and fast rules or requirements or guidelines for the submissions—the hope is to simply honor Nancy and recognize special booksellers.  The winners will be selected from these nominations by Sarah Goddin from Nancy’s Quail Ridge Books, SIBA’s Linda-Marie Barrett, Nancy’s husband Jim, and the donor of the gifts.  The deadline for e-mail nominations is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

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Posted By Nicki Leone, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Edelweiss+Some of the reviews submitted this week on Edelweiss+ from your fellow SIBA booksellers. SIBA members earn B3! points for every review if they join the SIBA community on Edelweiss. Email to be added.

Wine Simple Would Like to Meet Creatures Imaginary Museums 

9781984824257 Wine Simple 11/19/2019
"Award-winning sommelier Aldo Sohm by all rights should be a stuffy, snobbish autocrat who will scoff at you, you wine ignoramus! By some miracle, however, he is, instead, a gently intelligent guide to the world of wine, making this confusing subject easy to approach. He shares his wisdom in this fun-to-read guide." -- Anne Peck, Righton Books, St Simons Island, GA

9780525542315 Would Like to Meet 12/3/2019
"When a romantic comedy is perfectly executed, it leaves one with this giddy, full-hearted, warm, and intoxicating feeling that makes one believe in actual honest-to-goodness happy endings, and this book delivers all of that and more in a way that I haven’t experienced in a good long while. Rachel Winters’ debut novel is a lovely, funny, witty, and heartwarming homage to the entire rom-com film cannon, and I absolutely adored every single page of it! It unfolds like all the best rom-coms do, with lots of laughs (from full-bellied exclamations to cheek burning chuckles), more than a few empathetic grimaces (also usually accompanied by some laughs, and more than a few “oh no’s”...), and an abundance of heart. I only wish that this gift of a story came out sooner, as I am itching with the prospect of recommending it to people! I guess I’ll just have to content myself with making it my March 2020 romance book club pick ??"-- Lucy Perkins-Wagel, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

9781616208592 Creatures 1/7/2020
"Evie must confront her unstable upbringing on an island off the coast of Los Angeles, a father who used and sold drugs, a mother who was mostly absent and the constantly changing moods of the Pacific Ocean. Dealing with loneliness and abandonment, she is constantly searching for love and stability while she mostly raises herself. There is a lot to unpack here as Crissy Van Meter has created so much depth (an ocean pun, hah) to Evie's life on Winter Island that I could have been easily convinced the place actually exists. I read this in one sitting, it is such a truly beautiful book." -- Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

9781593765866 Imaginary Museums 1/14/2020
"Hysterical, vivid, ominous, fervid, outrageous, captivating: can one collection of short stories be all of these things? Once you read Imaginary Museums, you'll see the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Polek's collection is filled to the brim with unforgettable characters: pretentious academics, nervous brides, sneaky landlords--they're all here and then some. Imaginary Museums transports you to places that are wholly another world and yet also undeniably familiar. Short fiction is having a moment, and if you haven't delved into some of the great short fiction that's being published, a great place to start is with Nicolette Polek's masterful and engrossing work." -- Morgan McComb, Square Books, Oxford, MS

More bookseller reviews

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Position Announcement: Executive Director

Posted By Nicki Leone, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Position Announcement

Executive Director
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

Position: Full-Time

Job Description: Executive Director, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

SIBAThe Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), a regional not-for-profit trade association, seeks an experienced and entrepreneurial-minded leader to serve as its next Executive Director.  The right candidate will be passionate about books and bookstores, have a solid familiarity with the region and the book industry, and have the strategic and administrative acumen needed to help the organization thrive in the future.

SIBA is a not-for-profit trade association of independent booksellers and others who are an integral part of the booksellers’ success – authors, publishers, vendors and publicists. SIBA’s membership includes 158 core members who are independent, “brick and mortar” bookstores in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The organization is governed by a five-member Board of Directors with each Director serving a three-year term.  SIBA is deeply committed to upholding the principles of the Carver Policy Governance Model which makes a clear distinction between the policy-making role of the Board and the implementation role of the Executive Director. The staff, which is currently composed of two full-time positions and one contractual employee, operates virtually with each staff member working remotely. The annual operating budget is approximately $500,000. Wanda Jewell, the incumbent, is retiring after a thirty-year tenure as Executive Director.

Current programs are designed to provide skills, informational resources, and tools to enhance booksellers’ success and visibility. They include the annual Discovery Show and SIBA in the Springtime – high energy networking and educational events which draw hundreds of booksellers, authors, publishers, and vendors. Special awards, social media, and marketing tools are designed to increase sales and public awareness of indie bookstores. Also, SIBA’s Peer Review Trust acts as an archive of best practices for bookstores and offers peer review assessments for stores who feel they would benefit from some outside assistance. Priorities for SIBA’s next Executive Director are to continue strong governance practices, enhance strategic capabilities, promote organizational sustainability, build advocacy and partnerships, strengthen communication, improve programmatic and operational focus, seek opportunities to improve diversity and inclusion, and pursue ways technology can enhance SIBA’s overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Additional details about the position and qualifications sought are available on the Position Profile. Organizational information can be found on SIBA’s website – Inquiries about the position and the search process should be addressed to:

SIBA is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates.

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Storymatic Studios: Say Yes to Your Imagination

Posted By Nicki Leone, Tuesday, November 5, 2019

What made you decide to come to the SIBA Discovery Show?

Storymatic StudiosWe wanted to continue meeting people from stores in the South. SIBA was at the top of our list when we were figuring out our fall schedule. We’re glad we could make it too Spartanburg, because SIBA offers so many good opportunities to get to know people.

Did it meet your expectations?

Yes! We’re based in Vermont, and when we first did SIBA (New Orleans, 2017) we barely had a presence in the South. We are now carried in quite a few shops throughout the South, and it’s much easier for customers to find our products. I’m glad we could return this year.

What did you learn from attending the show?

I learn a lot at every show, but I think what I especially like about SIBA and other regional book shows is that you get to meet so many people who are passionate about the importance of bookstores. I like to learn about the history of each store, and about how people came to own or work in the store. Bookstores usually come with a lot of history, and they are run by people who care deeply about their communities. The Haunted Book Shop, for example. I really liked talking with Angela about how she ended up running the store, which has such a rich history in Mobile.

I also continued to learn about how stores incorporate sidelines into their product mix. I can’t remember the exact percentage, but someone told me that around 25% of their sales come from non-book items. Storymatic is a fun, literate sideline, and it was interesting to talk with people who are just beginning to diversify their offerings to include more than books. 

Why do you think the independent bookstore market is important?

Independent bookstores have importance that goes way beyond the economic impact they have within their communities. Books change people’s lives. I have a ton of respect for independent bookstores. Indies pay rent, employ people, and make important contributions to society. It’s important to me that customers can find Storymatic in actual bookstores around the country, that they can hold it in their actual hands, and that they can buy it from an actual person. When you work or shop in an independent bookstore, you have experiences and interactions you cannot have online. You gain knowledge that cannot be transmitted through fiber optic cable. You make memories and friends you cannot make online. Bookstores are very, very important.

On a personal note, when I was 16, I started working at Railroad Street Books in Great Barrington, MA. The store is long gone, but it made a huge difference in my life. I worked there off-and-on through college, and I’m grateful for that experience. Being around books and readers helped me begin to think of myself as a reader and writer. Working in the bookstore gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to run a community-based business. Often, when I package up an order for a bookstore, I imagine a younger version of myself at the other end of the shipment, opening it and showing it to a customer. 

Storymatic StudiosDescribe Storymatic Studios and how it got started

I made the first Storymatic several years ago while leading a fiction workshop at Marlboro College in Vermont. I then took that first Storymatic to my high school classes at The Putney School Summer Programs. I added to that first Storymatic year by year, class by class. All the while, students told me I should make more than one Storymatic, because they wanted to buy it and use it outside of class with their friends and families. Finally, I took their advice. Really, if it weren't for the excitement and support of my students, there would be no Storymatic.

After the first Storymatic came out, parents started asking me to make one for younger kids. So I took their advice and made Storymatic Kids. Even though it’s called Kids, it’s great for all ages.

And then my poetry and memoir students started going, “Hey, what about us? Where’s the poetry one? Where’s the memoir one?” So I modified some of the memory prompts we use in those classes to make Rememory, which helps you recall and share moments from your own life.

I thought I was pretty much done at that point, but then students started asking me why I hadn’t done anything with one prompt that involves writing sentences that mix up your senses, and another prompt where people ask questions about your story and you have to give an answer, even if it’s about something you’ve never considered before. That’s how Synapsis came out. It gives you a different way to make up stories.

So now we have four different products that help people explore their imaginations and memories. I think it’s important to do that. Stories keep our minds nimble. Inventing characters can help build a sense of empathy. I’d like to see a little more imagination and empathy in the world.

We’re based in Brattleboro, Vermont. We have a lovely little space in an old mill, alongside a variety of small, independent businesses.

The “we” that I keep mentioning is me and my wife, the photographer Vaune Trachtman. Sometimes people think Storymatic has a bunch of people. But it’s really just me and Vaune.


What are your newest products for the holiday season?


It’s a conversational, somewhat improvisational way to open doors to your imagination. In Synapsis, you’re prompted to turn two or three words into a sentence, which you pretend comes from a certain kind of story. Then you answer questions about that story and begin to flesh things out. I love how in just a few minutes you can go from a couple of random words to knowing all about the characters, settings, motivations, and arc of a story. 

You can use Synapsis by yourself as a writing prompt, or you can make an evening of it with your friends. It’s super adaptable, so you can make your own ways to play. I like how Synapsis offers a different way of thinking about how stories are created, so it can be a little challenging at first. But challenges are good things.  We like to think of Synapsis as being a little box of Yes.

Who should booksellers contact if they want to place an order?

You can contact me directly at or leave a message at 802-451-0050. Thanks!

Tags:  #siba19 

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B3! Webinar: An Introduction to Bookshop, a new online bookseller

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Tuesday, November 5, 2019

On Wednesday, December 4 at 2PM EST, Andy Hunter, CEO and Founder of Bookshop and Sarah High, Bookseller Liaison, will discuss Bookshop, its mission, and how it will partner with independent bookstores. The session will also provide time for your questions about the program and how you can benefit. Set to launch in January 2020, Bookshop is an online bookstore with an explicit mission to help promote and financially support the brick-and-mortar bookselling community. Built in collaboration with the ABA, independent booksellers, Ingram, and some of their favorite book and magazine publishers, Bookshop will be a way for websites, authors, indie stores, magazines, and bookstagramers to easily promote and purchase the books they love online without driving sales to Amazon.


Please RSVP if you'd like to attend the webinar. 



Tags:  B3! Webinars  Bookshop 

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SIBA19: "This is what I want to spend my life doing"

Posted By Cat VanOrder, Bookmarks, Monday, November 4, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2019

First, I’d like to thank the Reba & Dave Scholarship for allowing me to attend SIBA wherein I was able to experience a scene of community and belonging like I’ve never felt before. Second, I’d like to thank the independent booksellers, reps, and authors that are a part of that community, for making me feel entirely welcome, because that’s what my entire experience was. Like stepping into a home of a friend and knowing that no matter what, you belong there. I learned that independent booksellers absolutely do not care about showing vulnerability, that they will always reach down a hand instead of pulling up the ladder. 
I had never been to anything like this before, at least definitely not on this scale, that made me more positive than I had been before that this was what I want to spend my life doing. Helping my community connect and grow through the words and worlds of the authors that rely on, and support us the way we support them. That was something I hadn’t expected, or thought about; just how much independent booksellers mean to authors, but after hearing literally every author that spoke bring it up, it’s very much in the forefront of my mind now. A grave responsibility to be sure.

The roundtables were a bit of a conglomeration of my favorite things from SIBA coming together, in that it was where I truly got a good helping of knowledge from those determined to make sure we all succeed. From learning more about Ipage, which I thought I had known a lot about already (I hadn’t even scratched the surface), to learning how to up our display game, I came home with a ton of ideas that I immediately hopped on trying to figure out how to make it all happen, and I’m very excited for it all.

From the panels where I learned how to help make Independent Bookstore day a success, to the authors I chatted with that want to help make our Teen Advisory Council have some pretty cool meetings and events in the future, I’d say I achieved the goals I had going in. I connected with the people I wanted to, the people I didn’t expect to, and I made so many friends and opened up in a way that was incredibly shocking for myself. I explored the exhibition floor mostly on my own and found a ton of arcs to take home and review, and felt entirely comfortable doing it, like I was making an impact of my own. I came home from SIBA that Sunday knowing full well what I was going to be doing and why I was doing it, helping my fellow booksellers bring Bookmarks into a bright future for our community.
~Cat VanOrder, Bookmarks, NC

Tags:  #siba19 

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