Avid Bookshop named finalist for Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year
By Jim Thompson via OnlineAthens.com
Avid Bookshop in Athens was named one of five finalists for this year’s Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year Award.
The announcement came Monday morning at the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute in Minneapolis, but Avid owner Janet Geddis, in Minneapolis for the event, got the word a couple of weeks before from a Publishers Weekly writer.
“I feel funny being the one saying this, but it is a really huge deal,” a self-effacing Geddis said when asked about the significance of the Publishers Weekly recognition. “Publishers Weekly is the most important publication in bookselling. It’s a tremendous honor.”
In addition to Avid Bookshop, the other four bookstores now vying for Bookstore of the Year honors are The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Nashville’s Parnassus Books, Prairie Lights in Iowa City and Wild Rumpus Books in Minneapolis.
This year’s finalists, while all are different, each hold an important place in bookselling, Geddis said. As the nominated bookstores were being announced, the audience reaction was remarkable, she said.
“That list … we were just gasping,” Geddis said.
Avid Bookshop opened on Prince Avenue in 2011, and last year opened a second location in Five Points. The two shops regularly host special events including author readings and book signings and story times for youngsters.
Geddis entered the bookselling business with no experience in bookselling, publishing or even retail sales. She did, though, attend a number of bookseller conferences as she was putting her plans together, and she volunteered at bookstores to learn some of the practical aspects of the business..
“I remember going to those conferences and saying, ‘I want that to be me,’” Geddis said.
“People didn’t quite know how to react to me,” she said. But, she said, she has found plenty of support in the bookselling community in the years since then. “It’s the best industry ever,” she said. “People are extremely supportive.”
And as it has turned out, Geddis’ initial lack of experience helped her and her staff of booksellers to chart a course that led to creating their notable bookstores.
“We didn’t know what the rules were before we started breaking them,” she said. “We’re very beloved in Athens, and that means the world to me.”
The Avid Bookshop staff has been an integral part of the stores’ success, Geddis said. “We have an incredible crew of booksellers,” she said. “We love what we do. … It’s been interesting to see how our business has grown.”
Publishers Weekly has sponsored the Bookstore of the Year Award for more than two decades. The 2017 winner will be announced in March, and the award will be presented at the Celebration of Bookselling at BookExpo in New York City, scheduled for May 31-June 2. This year’s bookstore finalists represent a broad range of independent bookstores from across the country, both newer stores and long-established ones.
“This year’s nominees for the 2017 PW Bookstore of the Year Awards shine a light on some of the most creative and energetic bookstores in the business,” Cevin Bryerman, executive vice president and publisher of Publishers Weekly, said in a news release announcing the finalists.
The 2016 Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year is San Francisco-based Books Inc., a 165-year-old enterprise that now operates a dozen stores.