News you can use from the Land of SIBA: November 19, 2019
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11/8: Southern Book Prize Ballot opens (vote here)
11/8 - 11/17: Love Your Bookstore Week (more info)
11/15: Deadline to nominate Winter 2020 Okra Picks (here)
1/8/2020: B3! Book Club Discusses Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan (rsvp)
1/15/2020: Independent Bookstore Day Catalog is published (here)
2/3/2020: Deadline to place your IBD orders (no late orders this year!) (here)

SIBA Office Hours: Wednesdays from 2:00 - 5:00 PM EST
In the Land of SIBA Blog


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.


Nancy OlsonThe 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 store owners 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.


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!


Executive Director
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

Position: Full-Time

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.

read more


Announcing the 2020 Southern Book Prize Finalists

Southern Book PrizeSouthern independent booksellers have selected the finalists for the 2020 Southern Book Prize, representing bookseller favorites from 2019 that are Southern in nature—either about the South, or by a Southern writer. Nominations were submitted by bookstore members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and culled from books that have received strong reviews from Southern booksellers. The sixteen finalists which received the highest number of nominations are a collection of the most beloved “hand sells” in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature of the year.

The finalists are now placed on the 2020 Southern Book Prize ballot. Winners in each category will be chosen by popular vote from readers who support Southern independent bookstores. Participating bookstores will distribute ballots to their customers, which can be returned to be entered into a raffle to win a complete set of the finalist titles. An online ballot will also be available at

Voting opens the week of the Love Your Bookstore Challenge, November 8-17, building on the momentum of the grassroots campaign to encourage book buying at local bookstores and giving store customers chances to win more prizes. Voting will run from November 8 through February 1, 2020.

2020 is the second year the Southern Book Prize has been opened up to a popular vote. SIBA launched the public ballot for the 2019 prize, shifting the voting period to build momentum and excitement during the holiday season.

“The response from our member stores and the general public was overwhelming,” said SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell. “Everyone got involved – booksellers, readers, authors – in the end nearly 3500 ballots were submitted from all over the South. It was a wonderful affirmation of how important and beloved our member bookstores are to their communities.”

Southern Book Prize winners will be announced on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

Link to the Edelweiss Collection

 The Dutch House The Magnetic Girl Never Have I Ever The Nickel Boys Nothing to See HereThis Tender Land The Furious Hours I Miss You When You Blink Late Migrations Southern Lady CodeTell Me a Story The Gilded Wolves Hum and Swish I Will BE FierceThe King of Kindergarten Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee


Say "Yes" to your imagination!

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 to 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!

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

 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. (read more)

~Cat VanOrder, Bookmarks, NC 

Next week on Lady Banks Pick of the Week:

Read more about SIBA's Circle of Sites Program (aka the "banner for dues" program) and find out whether your store is eligible to participate and receive free membership dues.

On Lady Banks Bookshelf this month:


BESTSELLERS: October 27, 2019


Printable versions for your store displays: Hardcover | Paperback | Children's.

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Guardians
John Grisham, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385544184
2. The Dutch House
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062963673
3. The Water Dancer
Ta-Nehisi Coates, One World, $28, 9780399590597
4. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
5. Blue Moon
Lee Child, Delacorte Press, $28.99, 9780399593543

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Talking to Strangers
Malcolm Gladwell, Little Brown, $30, 9780316478526
2. Catch and Kill
Ronan Farrow, Little Brown, $30, 9780316486637
3. The Body
Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $30, 9780385539302
4. Blowout
Rachel Maddow, Crown, $30, 9780525575474
5. Me
Elton John, Holt, $30, 9781250147608

Special to the Southern List
Books that appear on the Southern Bestseller List, but not on any other region's list

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street Karen White, Berkley, $26,Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy Cassandra King Conroy, Morrow, $24.99,Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie Carly Simon, FSG, $27,The Book of Gutsy Women Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, S&S, $35,Three Days at the Brink: FDR's Daring Gamble to Win World War II Bret Baier, Catherine Whitney, Morrow, $28.99,Nothing Fancy Alison Roman, Clarkson Potter, $32.5,The Pioneers David McCullough, S&S, $30,Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War S.C. Gwynne, Scribner, $32,Becoming Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50,All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $17,News of the World Paulette Jiles, Morrow, $15.99,The Cockroach Ian McEwan, Anchor, $11,A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler, St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99,Celestial Bodies Jokha Alharthi, Catapult, $16.95,The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America Matt Kracht, Chronicle, $15.95,The Flame Leonard Cohen, Picador, $18,These Truths: A History of the United States Jill Lepore, Norton, $19.95,Churchill: Walking with Destiny Andrew Roberts, Penguin, $24,Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk Jon Krakauer, Anchor, $15,Empire of the Summer Moon S.C. Gwynne, Scribner, $17,Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents Pete Souza, Voracious, $19.99,Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! Mike Lowery, Orchard Books, $16.99,

see all


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

Important and useful links:

SIBA Office Hours: Wednesdays from 2:00 - 5:00 PM EST
In the Land of SIBA Blog
Southern Indie Bestsellers (HC | PB | Kids)

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Thank you for your interest in SIBA,

Nicki Leone

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
51 Pleasant Ridge Drive, Asheville, NC 28805
Fax: 309.410.0211


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