Jan Nathan, Executive Director
Years ago when these awards were started, the PMA Board wanted to honor those publishers who were producing excellent books. Whether or not the sales were fantastic was not going to be a factor. We wanted to honor excellence in the craft of publishing.
We also had an ulterior motive. We wanted to allow publishers to receive input from those people who would be making decisions day in and day out about these books. So we asked a varied group of people if they would consider being a judge in the competition and making comments so that publishers could learn and improve the quality of the books they were producing.
Judges receive the books in mid-to-late January and they have between then and late April to read, dig into, and comment upon each and every title in a specific category. We now have the luxury of having three judges in each category, all of whom judge independently from the other and then send their forms back to the PMA office for tabulation.
After the winners are announced, the forms are returned to each and every participant in the awards competition so that the publishers can get immediate feedback on their books. Some publishers use these comments to better the quality of their next books. Some agree with the comments; some disagree. But it is the opinion of these critics, buyers, and/or reviewers that is being shared candidly.
Since the beginning of the awards, we have disclosed the names of the judges for the Benjamin Franklin awards so that all could see the types of people who are involved. However we never announce which category they judge, and because of that, most of them make commentary on each and every book in their classification.
This year’s judges come from a variety of areas and are located throughout the US. We wish to thank the following people for volunteering their time so that our titles can improve, improve, and improve.
Judges for the Benjamin Franklin Awards
M. Elizabeth Alston, Americas Times-Recorder; Sherry Armendariz; John Baker, Publishers Weekly; Vann Baker, Design, Etc.; Joseph Barbato, The Nature Conservancy; David C. L. Bauer; Henry Berry, The Small Press Book Review; Barbara Bibel, Oakland Public Library; Helen Blanchard, The Daily News; Gene Booth, Boothmark Books; Shirley Branden, Univ. of Delaware Library; Jim Bray, Sr. Librarian, Escondido Public Library; Linda Brummett, BYU Bookstore; Wendy Bryant, The Crescent-News; Evelyn Cairns, News Herald Newspapers; Clifford N. Carlsen, San Francisco Business Times; Alan Caruba, Bookviews; Sharon Galligar Chance, Wichita Falls Times Record News; Janice Chavers, High Pointe Place; Leigh Cohn, Gürze Books; Kim Cool, Business Editor, Venice Gondolier; Heidi Cotler, Tower Books; Tula Demas, Mt. San Antonio Community College; Sandy Jo Drebenstedt, Families First; Millie Duran, La Prensa; Joseph M. Eagan, Enoch Pratt Free Library; Marjorie Eaton, New Times Publishing; Bob Erdmann; Eleanor Fanicase, Baker & Taylor; Elaine Farrand, Tri-County Advertiser; Kim Fiori, Kim Fiori Design; Bill and Helen Fisher, Fisher Books; Howard Fisher, Fisher Books; Paul Frindt, Hunter House; Anthony Gambucci, Gambucci Clinic; Howard Goldstein, Howard Goldstein Design; Robert K. Griffin; Susan Gustafson, Whole Person Associates; Christine Haines, Herald-Standard; Darlene Hayes, Union City Daily Messenger; Michelle Hines, Asheboro Courier-Tribune ; Larry Hitchcock, The Hitchin’ Post; Gary Hollingshead, Mountain Statesman/Harrison County Value Guide; Ida Holyfield, The Dickenson Star; Rebecca Jackson-Clause, Bedford Bulletin; Claire Karis, Worcester Publishing Ltd.; Karlyn Marie Kasperek, Akron Bugle; Henry Kornman, HK Marketing Services; Bram & Gaelyn Larrick, Lightbourne Images; Wendy Z. Larson, Blue Unicorn Press, Inc.; Tom Lewis, Tehabi Books; Ron Liggett; Kathy Lilje, Sandusky Register; Jerry Marino, The Marino Group; Donna Markarian, Poplar Creek Library; Becca Bacon Martin, The Morning News of NWA; Laura McCaffery, Allen Couny Public Library; Leslie McClure; Peggy McCracken, Pecos Enterprise; Cindy McKechnie, New Sage Press; Barbara J. McKee, Streetsboro High Library; Patty Miller, New Hampshire Comm. Tech. College; Joyce Misner, Bibliographer, Allen County Public Library; Laura Mitchell, Escondido Public Library; Claire Morales; Gary Moselle, Craftsman Book Company; Jackie Musgrave, Anchorage Municipal Libraries; Marianne Napoles, Champion Newspapers; Andrea Nickles; Christine Nolt, Cirrus Design; April Ober; Carolyn Olson, Quality Books; Layce Parkinson, Dakota County Library-Eagan; Bill Parton, Arkansas Tech University; Jonathan Pataki, The Coastal Journal; Robert Paul, Sequoyah High School; Dolores Payne, Ocean County Library-Stafford Branch; Lisa Peet, OCV Architects; Hugh Penton, Penton Overseas; Larita J. Pierson, The Bonham Daily Favorite; Jon Pompia, Chronicle News; Lori Qualls, Midland Daily News; Cathy M. Quimby, New Castle News; Diane M. Ranney, Asst. Director, J. Bourne Public Library; Chris Richman, Daily Chief-Union; Ellen Rigante, West Islip Public Library; LuAnn Roberto, 411 Graphics; Scott Rodas, Ocean County Library; David Rosen, Soundelux/Mind’s Eye Audio Publishing; Robert E. Schnare, Director, US Naval War College Library; Maryhelen Schnetker, Quality Books; Cathy S. Schreima, Editor, Evening Leader Publishing Co.; Eugene G. Schwartz, Consortium House; Carol Scott, Sand Springs Leader; R. N. Sharma, Ph.D., West Virginia State College; Shirley Shick Learn, Sampson-Livermore Library; Sue Sidelinger, Armada Times; Joanne Silva, Brandywine.net Business Report; Pat Sledge, Tangipahoa Parish Library System; Les Smith; Marcella Smith, Barnes & Noble; Robin Stall, Tribune Review; Bryan Stevens, Elizabethton Star; Heather Stevenson, Sunbelt Publications; Barbara Stewart, WEB DuBois Library; Patricia Sullivan, Glendora Public Library; Harold Sweet, Harold Sweet Graphic Design; Kathleen Thorne-Thompson; Mike Tribby, Quality Books; Katherine Tufts, Gazette Newspapers; Amy Tuttle, XYZ Group/Little Tiger Press; Bunni Union, Geauga West Library; Earlene Viano, Interlibrary Loans/Hampton Public Library; Kathy Wagoner, STA-KRIS, INC.; Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Telluride Magazine; John R. Webster, Abacus Graphics; Nancy Welch, Statesboro Herald; Gayle Wilkinson, Travis Jr. High; Jennifer Y. Wilson, Library Director, Southwest Community College; Deborah Wingert, Asst. Librarian, Terra Community College; Jeanette Wolff, Latrobe Bulletin; Elizabeth Woll; Pamela Woodward, Book San Diego; Nancy Yost, Senior Voice; Judith A. Zaccaria, Winfield Daily Courier; Ilene Zaleski, North Miami Public Library; Floyd M. Zula, Acquisitions Section, Library, CSU-Fullerton.
This year the judges have all commented on the fantastic quality of the entered books. This was not always so in the early years of this competition. It’s clear to see by viewing these publications, that the judges’ commentary over the years has assisted many independent publishers in improving their titles so that they can compete on an equal footing, in many cases, with publishers who have far larger budgets for promotion than they do.
A good book should be rewarded . . . and the Benjamin Franklin Awards offers that reward to many. This year there were 1,500 entries. Of those, 49 were honored with the Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence in Publishing throughout 1997. We congratulate them and all of you who have made the world of publishing become over the past 10-15 years a more-even competitive field for new publishers and authors.