Bookstore of the Year 2015

Each year, Publishers Weekly sponsors two book industry awards, the Bookstore of the Year and the Sales Rep of the Year. We have had the honor of facilitating these awards for over twenty years. Each year when I review the submissions from each of the honorees, I cry. When the jury members select the winners, the tears of joy return. No other career have I felt the gravity of the work involved and the passion of colleagues.

This year’s Bookstore of the Year Award goes to Books & Books based in Coral Gables, Florida, founders of the internationally recognized Miami Book Fair, champions of reading in eleven locations, including cafes, a newsstand, the Miami airport, Grand Cayman island, and an affiliate on Long Island. Their events schedule includes an event every night, sometimes two, and sometimes in Spanish.

Mitchell Kaplan, owner and working manager of the entire business, said this in his note to the book industry, customers, and partners upon learning Books & Books won this year’s Award:

“… we’re gushing with pride, but also feeling very humbled, since we hold so many Indie bookstores dear in our hearts and feel that they, too, are comrades-in-arms in this fight to keep literary culture alive.”

Is it hard work? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Mitchell Kaplan may never have envisioned how opening a single bookstore would change his life, he will acknowledge that the bookstore’s work has enriched the lives of many. And, it has been worth it.

This year’s Rep of the Year is Jennifer Sheridan with HarperCollins Books for Young Readers. A champion of great books and great writing for children, Jennifer liberally shares her views and opinions about the appropriateness of a book for a bookstore’s market. She distributes her own e-newsletter and is the liaison between the field and the New York offices.

In her essay for the jury, she wrote:

“I believe that if not for well-written children’s books at every level, there would be no audience for well-written adult books.”

She has worked in and served independent bookstores for her entire career. It’s no wonder many of her customers rose up to nominate her for this year’s Award.

In the book industry, you’re in good company with hardworking souls who dedicate not just their careers, but their lives. It’s truly inspiring.