The Book Publishers Association of Alberta acknowledged the immense contribution Sharon Budnarchuk has made to the book community during the past 50 years at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards on September 13.
Sharon, co-owner of Audreys Books with Steve Budnarchuk, started in books in 1969 and has been an active member in the community. She received a standing ovation by colleagues and friends after her acceptance speech.
“I am deeply moved that you would honour me for doing what I love. Although my choice of career from bookseller to book sales agent, to publicist and back to bookseller was not a get rich scheme, I have been very lucky to have experienced many of the facets of this incredible business of books. It has given me many unique experiences and has made me who I am today.
I started in bookselling when “Books in Print” were actually bound volumes, not digital references. We sent our orders to head office once a week after physically counting the backlist and then waited 3-4 weeks for stock. Today at Audreys we check sales and reorder on an hourly basis to ensure just-in-time inventory.
After my stint at Classic Books, a Canadian chain that only a few of you will recall, I became a sales agent for Stanton & McDougall and in a year and a half I bought an agency and began commission sales for McClelland & Stewart in the last years of Jack McClelland being at the helm. I learned a little about publishing and became a colleague of the who’s who of the Canadian literary world.
So when Steve and I bought Audreys Books—with a bank loan that had lots of zeros—oddly I was not afraid. I knew we had the skills to make it work. We computerized the store for point of sale, refurbished the store’s main floor with oak fixtures, and then things got a lot harder because of political changes and new competition.
Like you we survived the Klein cuts, the arrival of large format bookstores and the Big A—Amazon. We survived because we cared about our staff, our suppliers, our local authors, and our community. One of the things I learned from Jack McClelland was that WE are part of the book chain, connected to one another—authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers—and we must nurture each other. And so together we must remind the powers-that-be that our particular voice here in Alberta is essential to the fabric of this country.
Now in my “mostly” retirement, please know that I am still here to help make that voice louder.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”