Great Farewell Trip

I have worked for PGW for 26 years but it's time to put away the boxes of ARC's and my computer bag and retire. These years working with publishers and booksellers have been some of the best years of my life. I have grown and matured (stop laughing) ever since I first started selling my authors' beloved works to bookstores all over the South. I have met and befriended so many talented people in this business, more than I can count. I have absolutely loved it.

Deciding to retire was not an easy decision. I didn't think I would quit working until I was at least 70 (I'm 66 now).  In the end though, the stress has just grown to be too much.  The medical issues that have plagued me for the last few years (tinnitus and hearing loss) finally took their toll.

That being said, even though it wasn't the way I had planned, I'm finding this might be a blessing in disguise. I have been able to get more than a few hours sleep because I don't wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a report due, an order not in, or yet another new system to figure out. I already feel calmer in my life and am excited about the new adventures I will now have the time to explore.

What a grand journey it’s been. Thank you all so much for all your kindness, generosity and friendship; it’s meant the world to me. People who write, produce and sell books are in a special and magical league of their own. I’m privileged to have been a part of it for so many years.

Here are the photos of my last season and road trips where I was able to say goodbye to my beloved bookseller friends, in the order that I saw them. 

I found this professional map on the internet. The solid red line was the three week road trip.

My first road trip is to the North Carolina stores between Asheville and Raleigh.

Jamie Southern of Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC.

Brian Lampkin of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC.

The evening we got to our hotel in Chapel Hill, Linda-Marie and I had a farewell dinner with some dear friends in the small town of Hillsborough. Site of a new murder mystery I was selling at the time , Last Girl Gone by J. G. Hetherton.

Clay Farr (UNC Press), Linda-Marie Barrett, John Sherer (UNC Press), Tanya King and Craig Poplars (Algonquin) dining in Hillsborough, NC.

Sarah Goddin and prankster Tony Peltier of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC.

Pete Mock of McIntyre's, Pittsboro, NC.

Tom Campbell and John Valentine of The Regulator, Durham, NC.

Back in Asheville I called on City Lights and Malaprop's.

Michael Redman, City Lights, Sylva, NC.

Justin Souther, Malaprop's, Asheville, NC

Then it was time to drive south and see my Atlanta-based stores.

Frank Reiss, A Cappella Books, Atlanta, GA

Doug Robinson, Eagle Eye Books, Decatur, GA
I also saw Tall Tales in Atlanta and Avid Bookshop in Athens. 
Time for the big, three week, "Farewell Tour" where I visited 15 accounts in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Knoxville, here we come.

Made it!

Waiting for us in our hotel room.

Flossie McNabb, Union Ave. Books, Knoxville, TN.

While driving through Knoxville, we both got a bit creeped out thinking of being "harvested".

Back on Interstate 40, heading west toward Nashville.
Passing the Blue Ridge Nuclear Power Plant on the way to Nashville.

Driving toward our hotel in Nashville on a rainy evening.

Catherine "Cat" Bock, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN, Cat's ecstatic that I'm leaving.

Memphis here we come.

Passing over the very swollen Tennessee River on the way to Jackson, TN.

Saying goodbye to Celeste Winters, Customer Care Manager, Ingram, Jackson TN.

She's so wonderful.

Sunset over the Mississippi, driving into Memphis, TN.

The Pyramid.

Having a serious farewell discussion with Jason Bouck at Novel in Memphis, TN.

View of Memphis from the hotel.
Now it's time to head south to Mississippi and New Orleans.

Heading south down Highway 78 in Mississippi.

Had to stop in at Wall Doxey State Park, one of my favorite places to see on my way down to Oxford.

Going out on a limb (sorry couldn't help it).

Getting close to Oxford, MS.

Lyn Roberts, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

Appreciating Square Books.
It was time to head to Grenada, MS.

This grave stone in a very remote cemetery off of Highway 7 has always intrigued me and I come back and pay my respects as often as I can.

Having deep thoughts just off dirt road 73.

Having dinner with friend and famous author Jamie Kornegay and his beautiful wife Kelly.

Continuing south toward Jackson, getting on the Natchez Trace.

Along the Natchez Trace.

The famous entrance to Lemuria in Jackson, MS.

With Kelly Pickerill and Johnny Evans at Lemuria, Jackson, MS.

My beautiful relief driver.

Back on the road, now on to New Orleans.

On Interstate 10, getting close to New Orleans.

Made it!

On the roof of the hotel near downtown New Orleans, I declined the invitation to jump in.

Heading down Magazine Street.

Had pizza with Amy Loewy of Garden District Bookshop and Tom Lowenburg and Judith Lafitte of Octavia Books.

Nice view of New Orleans from our hotel.

With the legendary Joe DeSalvo, Faulkner House Books.
Now we turn east to get to Tallahassee before dark.

Back on the road, heading east again through Alabama.

So close to Page & Palette but sadly, we didn't have time to stop.

Continuing along the gulf coast through Mobile heading to Tallahassee, FL.

Entering Florida.

We wanted to make it to Midtown Reader in Tallahassee in time to see Grove/Atlantic author Jamie Quatro read from her new book Fire Sermon. Before the event we met up with four other award winning authors I have represented through the years.

Skip Horack, myself, Bob Shacochis, Jamie Quatro, Robert Olen Butler.

Sally Bradshaw, Midtown Reader, Tallahassee, FL.

Hooked up with fellow rep Eric Svenson at Midtown Reader.

After Tallahassee we turned south toward Tampa for the weekend. Linda-Marie was meeting Wanda Jewell and Nicki Leone to look over the location of the next SIBA trade show.

Heading south to Tampa in northwest central Florida.

Of course I had to go exploring.
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, near Tampa, is the location for
the 2018 SIBA Discovery Show. It was inundated with fans, the  press, and police. Tiger Woods asked me to play a round with him but I just didn't have the time.

Valspar Golf Championship | Tampa Bay | PGA TOUR 2018

Spent the weekend near Tampa at Clearwater.

Sunset near Dunedin, FL.

Not far from our hotel, I would have loved to have seen a Manatee but, alas, they must have been at lunch.

On Sunday we headed south again for Sarasota.

Nora Gunneng, Bookstore 1, Sarasota, FL.

About to head east to Miami via Alligator Alley.

Looks like rain ahead in Miami. 

 Clear skies met us as we approached the city.

Gael LeLamer, Mitchell Kaplan and Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

Aaron Curtis, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

With Barbara Franzen, Southern Book Service, Hialeah, FL.
Now heading north up the east coast of Florida.


I'm in!


Heading into Palm Beach.

 Dan Foster and Jeff Jacobus, Classic Bookshop, Palm Beach, FL.

Took my shoes off and did some reconnoitering, Palm Beach, FL.

Susann Pezzetti, Tom Leonard and Sheila Grange at Vero Beach Books Center, Vero Beach, FL.
Another weekend, this one in Saint Augustine, home of author Laura Lee Smith.

Saint Augustine, FL.

Alligator Farm.

Beautiful Spanish Moss lined street, Saint Augustine, FL.

Linda-Marie at the Fountain of Youth (I think she must have it bottled and sent up to Asheville).

Rona Brinlee, The Book Mark, Neptune Beach, FL.
Neptune Beach, I got a real deal on a beach-side hotel!

To get to Amelia Island we took the ferry across the St. John's River.

"HIRO" our car, snug on board the ferry.

My essential companion.
On Amelia Island we paid a call on my territory's newest bookstore, Story and Song in Fernandina Beach.

Mark Kaufman and Donna Paz Kaufman at Story & Song, Fernandina, FL.

Crossing into Georgia.

With Mary Jane Reed, GJ Ford Books in Saint Simon's Island, GA.
And finally the 6 hour push back to North Carolina.

Crossing into South Carolina.

And there are our beloved mountains far in the distance!

Almost there!

Just a few more miles, from sunny FL to rainy NC.

Made it!

Back in Asheville after 3 weeks on the road, so good to be home! Just a few more stores to see and then I'm done.

Back on the road to see my last remaining accounts in South Carolina and North Carolina. 

Jill Hendrix at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.
Meg Reid, Betsy Teter and Anne Waters of Hub City Bookstore and Press.

Sally Brewster at Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC.
Everything was a "this is the last time I'll be doing this" moment, very poignant for me

Fear not, I will still post scintillating and thought-provoking author interviews and ask the questions no other interviewer dares to ask. And perhaps some travel photos when I go to places like Mongolia or incredibly remote south Pacific islands.

Oh, my blog hit 100,000 page views this month, thanks for reading.


Unknown said…
Loved it Jon Will. Wasn't fond that you felt you're being "Harvested" but that's okay, only "He" knows. I'm so very glad and proud of you and am very glad and proud of Linda Marie. Talk to you soon. I'm making plans for another Texas trip. Love you, Bess
Susan D said…

John, I would love to know how many miles you have tallied in the 26 years that you've
been a book rep! So enjoyed "Great Farewell Trip" and just know that you have made
a difference in this big world of book selling. I am just a part-time bookseller for
a small independent in Atlanta, but I have always looked forward to your periodic
appearances at the store to encourage, share news, and make great suggestions as to
what to buy. Thanks for all the many years of dedicated service--you will be missed.
Oh, and just a mention of your blog--the hanging off the tree--sloth-style has got
to be the best blog photo ever. Love you.

Susan Diffenderer
Tall Tales Books
calvinallen said…
Looks like a great trip, and the booksellers look happy to be rid of you!
Theosobia said…
Jon, you will always shine in my memory as my most self-effacingly charming,pixilated [in the truest sense], and knowlegeable rep I ever encountered. I would that Fate would have allowed me to be part of your Farewell Tour. Bona Fortuna, dear Jon!
Much Love,
Judith Hawkins-Tillirson
Unknown said…
What a wonderful photo journey that you have gifted to us. But, it’s more than just a journey. It’s the people that you have met and touched in a way that nobody else could have but you. And thank you for allowing me to be part of a one-week journey with you. So many memories in those seven days-meeting some wonderful people, getting my first tick, having a beer in a real honky-tonk in Nashville, the rivers, the trees, the rain storms, the moon pies, the fire ants, buying fireworks at a gas station. I’m very happy that you were able close this chapter in your life with your beloved Linda-Marie. Does it get any better than that? My friend, you’ve done well. said…
Thank you for sharing. You hit so many of my favorite Southern places and bookstores. My husband and I closed our Georgia indie bookstore eight years ago and retired back to Tallahassee. We are big advicates of retirement at about your age. Enjoy your time, fill it with pleasurable things and come back to Tallahassee. We'll show you manatees and alligators aplenty at Wakulla Springs and St. Mark's lighthouse and wildlife preserve. Again, enjoy your retirement and thank you for sharing
Now it’s time to hike the AT!! Or maybe write? I love the photos. Congratulations on a meaningful and relational career. Jpd
Anonymous said…
I was fortunate to know you in the very beginning of your career. Congratulations on a life well-loved and well-lived. Buona fortuna in the next chapter. XOKathy
Richard Nash said…
Thanks for taking such good care of all the crazy-assed books I'd impose on you. By the way, an Icon author with a book coming in the fall called Hello, Shadowlands—I was searching my email for his info and discovered, in 2002, an email from him when he was an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill, wanting to book David Rees (Get Your War On) for the big tour we did that Fall. David's tour overlapped with some of your farewell tour, and Patrick's will as well. What goes around, comes around, for the good, some times. Thanks for all the good you've done and will do...

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