July 5 – July 12, 2006 Edition

Southern Booksellers

Team With Historic Hotel

To Create Southern Library

COLUMBIA, SC/7/3/07–Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance members and The Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Virginia have come together in an unusual partnership to create the ultimate Southern book collection for the Inn's newly renovated showcase library. The "Build a Southern Library Project" was first conceived when the inn's owner, Ian Lloyd, contacted SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell for advice on how to fill Inn's new library shelves.


"Naturally, I was very excited." exclaimed Jewell. "The Martha Washington Inn is such a well-respected southern institution. It regards its new library as an important part of the uniquely Southern experience they offer their guests, so it is important that the collection reflect the character of the Inn and its patrons. When they asked me for recommendations, I told them no one knows Southern literature better than independent Southern booksellers."


To help create the collection, SIBA is soliciting proposals from its member bookstores. The organization will then compile the proposals into a master "catalog" which The Martha Washington Inn will use to select titles for its shelves. SIBA will funnel their selections back to the appropriate bookstore for fulfillment. The Inn has committed $20,000 towards building its collection.

"This is such a great opportunity for our stores" said Jewell. "SIBA was anxious to find a way for all of its members to become involved in what we think will be a fun and high-profile community project." As stores submit proposals, SIBA will post a running list of the titles on its website.

Proposals can be submitted via the website or email. Submission guidelines can be found here:

The deadline for stores to submit their proposals is Friday, July 13th.

Jewell sees the Build a Southern Library Project as a prototype model for other community/bookseller partnerships. But more importantly, she regards it as a "hand selling" opportunity for her bookstores. "I suppose names like Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Conner will show up on every proposal," she remarked, "but this is also a chance for them to suggest the books they regard as contemporary Southern classics. It will be the ultimate southern reading list!" Jewell noted that she doesn't expect every submitted proposal to be a large one, but hopes that all SIBA stores will take the opportunity to submit even a small proposal, noting that even among general independent bookstores there was a wide range of different strengths and interests. "A store in Louisiana might have a completely different notion of must-have Southern fiction than a store on the Carolina coast," Jewell pointed out.

About the Martha Washington Inn

Originally built in 1832 as a private residence by a Virginia General, The Martha Washington Inn has seen many different uses. From private residence it evolved into a finishing school for young ladies. When the armies of the Civil War battled in and around Abingdon, the building served as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and romantic stories of nurses and soldiers still endure to this day. After the Civil War The Martha became a women's college and today is an elegant hotel, paying homage to its gracious Southern roots and enduring historic legacy.

For more information about the Build a Southern Library Project, please visit SIBA's website at, or contact Executive Director Wanda Jewell at

About Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is a trade organization for independent bookstores in the South. It exists to empower, promote, and celebrate core member bookstores in a spirit of partnership. Independent, privately held, brick and mortar bookstores in the region constitutes the core members.