Workman Sponsors Drabyak Fellowship to Winter Institute

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The American Booksellers Association has announced the creation of the Joe Drabyak Frontline Fellowship to the Winter Institute to be sponsored for the first three years by Workman Publishing. The fellowship will be awarded annually to one bookseller and will provide airfare, lodging, meals, and conference registration.

Steven Pace, Workman’s director of sales, noted that the fellowship would “be awarded to a bookseller who embodies Joe’s unabashed enthusiasm for recommending good books to readers and his contagious ability to help generate overall excitement for the books that he championed.”

Drabyak, Chester County Book Company’s master bookseller and a former president of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, died of cancer on August 27. Three weeks before his death, he learned of the fellowship to be created in his honor, when Pace and Craig Popelars, the director of marketing for Algonquin Books, went to visit him at his home in suburban Philadelphia.

“Between cheesesteaks, cigars, bourbon, beer, and pecan pie, while watching the Phillies beat the Mets on television and sharing lots of laughs, we told Joe and his wife about the fellowship in his honor,” said Popelars. “Joe was incredibly touched that he would, in spirit, continue to be a part of the bookselling community.”

Pace said, “Joe Drabyak was a unique force in bookselling. Everyone wanted to know what Joe was recommending. And, if your book was lucky enough to be named a ‘Joe’s Pick,’ you knew it had received his ‘magic touch’ and would soon appear on Chester County Book Company’s bestseller list. But he was also generous with his time and had boundless energy for teaching the art and craft of bookselling. That legacy is the inspiration for the Frontline Fellowship.”

“Joe Drabyak was an important part of the bookselling community, and we will miss him enormously,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “Every time we handsell a book, we’re channeling Joe. He not only taught us a great deal about books and bookselling, he also provided a role model for many of us. We’re proud to have a part in commemorating Joe and his many years of dedication to the book industry through the annual presentation of the Joe Drabyak Frontline Fellowship.”

Booksellers, publishers, and sales representatives are encouraged to nominate booksellers for the fellowship. Nominations should include the following:

  • Bookseller’s full name and complete contact information.
  • Store where the bookseller is employed. Both full-time and part-time booksellers can be nominated.
  • A brief letter of recommendation explaining why the bookseller is being nominated for the fellowship.

Nominations for the Joe Drabyak Frontline Fellowship must be submitted by Friday, October 8, 2010. Nominations should be e-mailed to

The winner, to be chosen by Workman and ABA staff, will be announced in mid-November.

A memorial service for Joe Drabyak will be held this weekend in West Chester, Pennsylvania.