Unusual news down South! Wanda Jewell, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, will move next year to San Francisco from South Carolina but will retain her job, making her the first regional booksellers association head we've heard of to live outside her territory. She wants to spend time with her granddaughter and, she says, "any future grands to come!"
At the same time, Linda-Marie Barrett, longtime general manager and former co-owner of Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C., has left the store to become assistant executive director of SIBA, effective yesterday. Her initial focus will be as a Rep on the Road liaison to SIBA booksellers, expanding on outreach she began as a SIBA board member. She will also increase participation in SIBA's Frindies (Author Friends) program, and be the East Coast SIBA representative, beginning in early 2018.
Jewell commented: "I believe this will be good for SIBA. I'll have access to a whole new culture of bookselling. I'll research new products, concepts, and ideas at work and bring them to SIBA booksellers. I'm investigating the possibility of sharing resources with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, as well as contacting new vendors." She added that she plans to keep East Coast hours.
Barrett said, "Malaprop's has been my heart for almost 29 years, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity to work with Wanda Jewell, someone I admire tremendously. I'm bringing my bookselling experience to work at a broader level. I'll be reaching out to indies in the Southeast, traveling the territory, meeting booksellers and visiting their shops. I'll explore what's working and what needs attention, which is a perfect match for my passion to build connections, find solutions, and offer practical assistance. I'm very excited to begin my new work."
She also thanked Malaprop's owner and founder Emoke B'Racz "for hiring me and allowing me the space to be innovative, hire amazing people, and put my stamp on different areas of the store's business practices. I am grateful to all the booksellers from Malaprop's and from stores across the country who taught me so much about commerce, artistic expression, and, most importantly, being a better person. You are the best!"