An Uncommon Definition of Success
Each year, Publishers Weekly presents two major book industry awards at BookExpo America: Bookstore of the Year and Rep of the Year. Recipients of those awards exemplify success by having been recognized for their work. Success is usually equated with fame and fortune, but it applies as well to simply being good at what you love to do.
This year’s Bookstore of the Year Award was given to The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Illinois, just north of Chicago. Six members of the staff, including owner Roberta Rubin, traveled to New York City to accept the Award while over a thousand of us book industry professionals cheered their dedication, creativity, and expertise in promoting books and reading. The store opened in 1940 and this is the store’s 30th anniversary under Roberta’s stewardship.
Why was the store worthy of this award? Their success comes from a dedicated owner and equally dedicated staff who welcome writers at all stages in their careers with events they orchestrate on the North Shore and in downtown Chicago. They write delectable reviews in their monthly print newsletter. They send out hundreds of children’s books each month as gifts from parents and grandparents who care that their children fall in love with reading early in life. Their selection is thoughtfully tailored and carefully monitored. They nurture relationships with publishers and authors. They love ideas and beautifully crafted stories, and love sharing those stories with customers.
Roberta, known as the “Godmother of Books” in Chicago, has defined success not just by her salary and the store’s profitability, but by being a small business owner who leads a team that loves what they do, contributes to local charities, fosters community by being Winnetka’s gathering place, champions authors and their books, and reminds us to savor our time to read and all that reading brings to our lives.
Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman, sales reps for Random House, together won this year’s Rep of the Year Award. Usually, sales reps work alone, crisscrossing their territories to work with their bookstore clients. Michael and Ann decided to collaborate — and the duo is adored by all of the New England booksellers who learn from them about new books being launched as well as benefit from their efforts to bring great new books to readers.
Since 1993, Paz & Associates has facilitated both awards for Publishers Weekly. The time it takes to call for nominations, gather the submissions, form the juries, and notify nominees is some of the most gratifying work we do all year. All who make a living by working in the book community also make a life — where success is defined by just how much we are enriched by our work. Nearly everyone at the awards presentation that morning in early June at BookExpo had careers more like a calling, representing meaningful work with collaborative relationships. Kindred spirits filled the hall in New York City that day — sharing a common love of words and celebrating an uncommon definition of success.