Midwest Bookseller of the Year

Celebrating booksellers who have made an extraordinary impact on their community

Celebrating the Midwest Bookseller of the Year award is one of the highlights of our our work each year.

Nominees are judged according to the impact they made on their community and the industry at large in the previous year. Qualities that demonstrate an impactful bookseller are many, including effectiveness in handselling titles, passion for books and the bookselling industry, creative marketing campaigns, effective community outreach, inspiring customers, co-workers, or the industry at large, taking risks, showing excellence in customer service, implementing effective business practices, developing new sales models, giving back to one's community, and much more. 

Criteria and Process

The booksellers at A Room of One's Own in Madison, WI

The Midwest Bookseller of the Year award is an annual award that celebrates a bookseller who had an extraordinary impact on their community within the previous year. 

Congratulations to the staff at A Room of One’s Own, Midwest Booksellers of the Year.

  • First picture, left to right: Caide Jackson, Anada Werner, Misian Taylor, Sydne Conant, Alej Pérez
  • Second picture, left to right: Gretchen Treu, Russell Potter, Sam Faulkner, Wes Lukes 
  • Not pictured: Gideon Ariel

One of the Midwest’s proudly queer-owned bookstores, A Room of One’s Own found a voice in 2021 as a staunch defender of trans rights and a vocal advocate for queer, trans, and BIPOC people everywhere. This commitment to uplifting historically unrepresented communities is present in everything they do—social media, events, custom merchandise, the books they stock and promote—and has been especially uplifting during a year of isolation and political strife. Read about A Room of One's Own inspiring community impact here.

Schwesnedl Photo
Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl, owners of Moon Palace Books

​At our annual membership meeting on October 26, Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store, granted the Midwest Bookseller of the Year award to Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl, owners of Moon Palace Books. As Danny said, "It’s not just that I’ve never heard anyone say a critical word about Minneapolis’ Moon Palace Books; it’s that I’ve never heard anyone say anything less than absolutely effusive."

Moon Palace's dedication to their community, in good times and bad, inspired not only those in the Twin Cities but countless people across the country. Read about Moon Palace Books' inspiring community impact here.

2019Caine Photo
Danny Caine, owner of The Raven Book Store

We celebrated the transformative role booksellers play in the world by granting the 2019 Midwest Bookseller of the Year award to an independent bookseller who had an extraordinary impact on their community, Danny Caine, owner of The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Running a successful independent bookstore involves so many moving parts, coordinating them all demands the skills of an orchestral conductor. But when a store gets it right, they find their voice and become a beacon for booksellers, publishers, authors, and readers locally and nationally. With Danny Caine as its owner, The Raven has found its voice and is using it to strengthen independent bookselling. Please read on to see why Danny is so deserving of this award.

2018Kissner Photo
Judith Kissner, owner of Scout & Morgan Books

The winner of the inaugural Midwest Bookseller of the Year award in 2018 was Judith Kissner, founder, owner, and bookseller at Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minnesota.
Our board reached this decision by asking our membership to nominate booksellers, then working directly with community members and industry professionals to create a detailed picture of their accomplishments. The effusive, detailed testimonials we received about Judith’s work are truly inspiring and demonstrate what it means to embody excellence as a bookseller.

"At a time when so many people are trying to comprehend the changes happening in communities of the rural Midwest, there are reasons for hope and optimism beaming through the front door of Judith's bookstore."

Read the complete article about Judith Kissner's accomplishments.