The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation has announced the nine booksellers from underrepresented backgrounds who are the winners of this year’s Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships, which will enable them to attend their fall regional independent bookseller association trade shows.
The scholarship, which is sponsored by Binc and Macmillan Publishers, is intended to encourage a greater number of individuals from diverse groups to choose and/or continue careers in bookselling. A panel composed of Binc board members, booksellers, bookstore owners, and publishers selected one winner for each regional association. The 2018 winners are as follows:
- Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA): Rebecca Fortes, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA): Jeffrey Blair, Eyeseeme African American Children’s Bookstore, University City, Missouri
- Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA): Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, Texas
- New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA): Veronica Liu, Word Up Community Bookshop, New York, New York
- Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA): Drew Durham, Books Inc., Burlingame, California
- New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA): Katherine Formosi, The Book Rack, Newburyport, Massachusetts
- Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA): Annie Carl, The Neverending Bookshop, Bothell, Washington
- Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA): Kayla Chang, Warwick’s, La Jolla, California
- Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA): Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Georgia
The program, introduced as a pilot program in 2017, was created by the Macmillan Diversity and Inclusion Council and Binc’s diversity task force. It offers a maximum of $500 for a bookseller from a traditionally underrepresented group in the industry to attend their regional show. Each scholarship package covers the cost of travel, lodging, and meals.
To be eligible, applicants were required to fall into at least one of the following categories: People of color, defined as people of African/African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Native American/Indigenous descent; people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer; or people with disabilities (includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses).
In addition, it was required that the applicant’s store be a member in good standing with one of the nine regional associations; booksellers were also required to answer three brief essay questions as part of the application process.
In 2018, Binc reported that the program received a 30 percent increase in applications over the previous year. The panel of judges reviewing the applications included Kat Brzozowski, editor at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and co-chair of the Macmillan Diversity and Inclusion Council Committee; Kim Brock, a bookseller at Joseph-Beth Booksellers; Andrea Vuleta, executive director of SCIBA; and Ken White, publisher of Query Books and a Binc board member.
“We were thrilled with the number and variety of applications received this year,” said Binc Executive Director Pam French. “The bookselling community is a collection of wonderfully diverse individuals, anxious to share ideas and experiences with their colleagues. All of the winners are doing their part to create a more inclusive environment and help strengthen the book industry.”
Don Weisberg, president of Macmillan Publishers, remarked that “broader representation within booksellers helps us reach a broader audience; being able to support Binc and booksellers in this way makes this a win-win for all.”