The NAIBA Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year Award
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Jarrod Annis, Handseller of the Year


NAIBA is proud to announce that Jarrod Annis of Greenlight Bookstores is the 2019 Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year.  Annis was chosen by the award committee (the staff of Chesapeake & Hudson) from among many talented and deserving booksellers.

Annis is humbled to be singled out from all those who strive every day to put the right book into the right hand. “Handselling goes far beyond the now standard “if, then” algorithm a lot of readers have become accustomed to. Handselling offers room for an actual discovery based on a completely analogue person-to-person interaction. It’s a sort of improvisation, the key to which is listening. Ask the person what books they’ve read recently. Ask why they have or haven’t liked things, if there’s anything they absolutely won’t read. Ask them what their favorites are. Listen. Riff off what they’re telling you. Recognize and understand when people have opposite tastes than you. All is not lost. It is not the reader’s job to make a bookseller’s life easier, it’s the bookseller’s job to make the readers’ life better helping them find their next favorite thing.”

Annis is the manager of Greenlight Bookstore's Fort Greene location, where he began working as a bookseller in 2011. During his time at Greenlight, Annis has extended his work within the literary community beyond his work as a bookseller. He has served as an associate editor at Ugly Duckling Presse and as a poetry judge for the Best Translated Book Award. Annis currently sits on the board of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses. Working with Small Press Distribution and CLMP, he helped establish the Indie Bookseller Council, which works to build community among indie booksellers across the country focused on selling small press poetry, literary fiction and works in translation. At Greenlight, Annis was able to parlay his interest in small press literature into the curation of a dedicated display space, which has become a destination for many of Greenlight's customers. 

Previous winners of the NAIBA Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year Award are:

2018: Allissa duBois, Otto Bookstore, Williamsport, PA

Jean Aiello, University Store (Univ of Pittsburgh) (Lifetime Achievement Award) 

2017: Alex Brubaker of Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA

2016: Kathy Rodgers of Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE

2015: Sean Curran of Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA

2014: Michael Fortney of Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA

2013: Alicia Michielli of Talking Leaves... Books in Buffalo, NY

2012: Rob Dougherty of Clinton Book Shop in Clinton, NJ

2011: Ellen Mager of Booktenders Secret Garden Children's Bookstore in Doylestown, PA

About Joe Drabyak

Joe DrabyakIn honor of NAIBA President and friend, the late Joe Drabyak, NAIBA has created the Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year Award to recognize booksellers who put their passion for books into practice with marketing and promotions.

Joe Drabyak was renowned in the industry for his creative promotional efforts. He could build excitement around any title with unusual events (have you heard about Joe's Nuts?), clever pairings, and handselling talent.

For Joe, a good book was a wonder to treasure. His wife, Reggie Painter, remembers: "He would often say to me while I was reading a good book, "Isn't it wonderful to have a good book to read?" Not only did Joe revel in the having a good book to read but got such a thrill out of putting it in the hands of someone else to enjoy as much as he did. He would sit at his lunch table at the store reading up to the very last second of his break. He could advise a customer on which new authors were not to be missed. He relished the advanced reader copies from publisher reps and most of all those precious manuscripts that authors would send him for his opinion. After reading one such manuscript, Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden, Joe told Mark that it would be nominated for a National Book Award. When it was nominated, Mark invited Joe to attend the National Book Awards Dinner at Atlantic Grove's table with Mark's wife, mother, Buzz Bizzinger, and Morgan Entreken," Reggie said. "It was the only time I would ever see him in a tux."

Joe captured the essence of a book with his witty quotes, which often appeared in a book's promotional campaigns. His skill creating non-author store events captured the unwary customer with enough intrigue to sell the book. He had a loyal following and even those who didn't know him would always pick up a Joe's pick, because they could confidently rely on Joe's solid recommendation alone.

There is a Joe inside many booksellers, and we want that spirit to stay alive and flourish. Nominate the bookseller in your life who shares their passion for books with customers in creative, fun, and unusual ways. Tell us a little bit about them and how they enhance the handselling experience. The winner will be recognized by their NAIBA colleagues at the Awards Banquet at the Fall Conference, and receive a complimentary packet of all the Fall Conference event tickets.