A night at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Assn. Awards


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Saturday night, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Assn. gathered members, authors and publishers for its annual awards dinner at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Located in the Hollywood and Highland complex, it’s sort of glamorous -- just a stone’s throw from the Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards are held -- but it’s also in a mall, around the corner from a Hot Topic.

And that’s what the awards are like -- fancy and formal, but also a little bit sassy, punkish, in a cute way.


After a cocktail party, during which people chatted among long tables of new books, everyone was seated at round banquet tables. Every author in attendance was introduced, and each stood, one by one, for applause. As the meal moved from one course to the next -- salad, dinner, dessert -- the dozens of authors got up and moved to new tables according to a carefully detailed plan. (They had schedules. And maps.)

At each table, authors talked to booksellers about their new or upcoming books, in a publishing version of speed dating. Luckily, they’d been fed beforehand, so they talked as booksellers ate. Similar regional independent bookseller events have been taking place across the country all fall.

But the other dinners didn’t have Don Winslow providing the entertainment. Winslow is the author of mystery-thriller ‘Savages,’ set in Orange County, which our reviewer Sarah Weinman raved about as ‘pyrotechnic braggadocio and [a] deep meditation on contemporary American culture.’ Rather than giving a heartfelt speech about books and publishing, Winslow all but performed a stand-up routine during the main course, sending the room into spurts of laughter.

Then it was on to the awards. Three finalists had previously been announced in each category. The winners were:

Children’s Picture Book: ‘All the World’ by Marla Frazee (Simon & Schuster)Children’s Novel: ‘This Book is Not Good for You’ by Psuedonymous Bosch (Little, Brown)Fiction: ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ by Aimee Bender (Doubleday)T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award: ‘The First Rule’ by Robert Crais (Putnam)Nonfiction: ‘ Tattoos on the Heart’ by Father Gregory Boyle (Free Press)Glenn Goldman Art, Architecture and Photography Award: ‘Los Angeles: Portrait of a City’ by Jim Heimann, David L. Ulin and Kevin Starr (Taschen)

As for the awards, Mr. Bosch did make an appearance, albeit in dark sunglasses.

By the time the winners took the stage to accept large framed awards, the wine had been flowing, and the thanks were heartfelt, perhaps a little sentimental. Everyone was grateful to the independent booksellers for helping get their books into readers’ hands, and said so. It was a warm end to a jovial evening.


-- Carolyn Kellogg

(top right) Also from ‘Los Angeles: Portrait of a City,’ a photo of the opening of the Warner Theater (now the Wiltern) on Oct. 7, 1931. Credit: Mott Studio / Jim Heimann Collection