When I was a graduate student in the English department at NC State University, one of my greatest pleasures was attending events for the book releases of my teachers and professors. I was fortunate enough to take a creative writing workshop with Jill McCorkle, literature courses with Jon Thompson and Thomas Lisk, and I got to know Wilton Barnhardt, John Balaban, John Kessel, Dorianne Laux and many others.
Several years later (after a large handful of years managing a gigantic bookstore in San Francisco), I was hired by Susan Nutter at NCSU Libraries, where I had the great privilege of coordinating the 2014 North Carolina Literary Festival with Marian Fragola. During the year and a half that I planned this Festival, I was lucky to meet and be advised by Nancy Olson, founder and former owner of Quail Ridge Books. Nancy and her Events Coordinator René Martin introduced me to several of our state’s great authors, and stressed the importance of developing and maintaining a community for our writers in North Carolina. It is a lesson that remains with me to this day.
When I took over the North Carolina Literary Festival (renaming it the North Carolina Book Festival) with my colleague Chris Tonelli in 2018, I continued to lean upon the wisdom of René Martin, QRB’s new owner Lisa Poole, and General Manager Sarah Goddin, who I had gotten to know over the years as NCSU Libraries partnered with Quail Ridge Books to produce several large-scale events. I found out that Quail Ridge Books needed a Marketing Manager, and when Sarah and Lisa offered me the job, I jumped at the chance to make a career change.
That was one year ago, and it has been one of the greatest years of my professional life. In this year, we have produced the first of a revamped annual Book Festival, started a literary podcast that reaches thousands of you every week, started an Arts & Lecture Series, redesigned our website, sold countless books and produced several amazing author events. Working with the stellar staff at Quail Ridge Books has been an experience for which I will forever be grateful.
About a month ago, I learned of Sarah Goddin’s decision to step down as General
Manager. Sarah wants to focus more on what she loves–bookselling–and less on the day-to-day operations of the business. In the 35-year history of Quail Ridge Books, we have only had two General Managers, with Sarah being the longest tenured, which tells you a lot about our history and the strength of our store. Sarah’s contribution to the success of Quail Ridge Books is too great to measure. While I am sad that she is stepping down, I am very happy that she is remaining on our staff to do what she loves: selling books.
Soon after learning of Sarah’s decision, I decided to apply for the General Manager position, and today I am happy to announce that I have been offered–and accepted–the job.
I am excited to contribute to the development of Raleigh as a home and
destination for authors, readers, publishers and presses. We have so many things to be proud of–the great authors, readers and booksellers in our city and state, the development of programs like the Arts & Lecture Series and the Redbud Writing Project, an amazing calendar of author events, and larger anchor events like the North Carolina Book Festival (with Bookmarks and Greensboro Bound just down the road). Together, we have the opportunity to build a very special literary community here in our hometown.
I am excited to build it with you.
Thank you, and happy reading!
–Jason Jefferies, General Manager