The Dog Writers Association of America, at its banquet today in Manhattan, named The Dog Merchants a best book for 2016.
Merchants are people who make their livings by selling goods they did not produce themselves. Merchants can be distinguished from farmers, artisans, and others who create items they could sell themselves but are more likely to license to a merchant, who has the facilities and experience to deal with consumers. Merchants thus provide a vital link between those who grow, create, or assemble goods and the buying public. Historically, the merchant class was responsible for the creation of a middle class between peasants and the nobility. In modern times, merchants are most often the proprietors of establishments ranging in size from small shops to multinational chain stores, including commerce websites.
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Often these early merchants were traders who would travel great distances to bring exotic goods to areas that otherwise could not afford to import them. Another kind of merchant was the shopkeeper, who would offer a wide selection of general or specialized goods in a central location, saving customers the trouble of seeking them out. In medieval Europe, increases in trade and population allowed the merchant class to prosper, creating a middle class between the wealthy and the poor. Over the centuries, this middle class gained power, leading to the collapse of the feudal system and the rise of the first democratic governments.
In modern times, the merchant who runs a single shop has been largely supplanted by new methods of doing business. Many successful mercantile, or merchant-style, stores have expanded into chains with multiple locations in a particular region or country or even internationally. Some merchants run franchises, which are offshoots of these larger chain stores but have independent management. In the 21st century, the success of Internet commerce has allowed merchants large and small to do business online, sometimes without a brick-and-mortar store.
The Dog Merchants tied for the top spot in our category with Reporting for Duty: True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs by Tracy Libby.
I’m both honored and humbled to win this DWAA award for The Dog Merchants. My 2012 dog book, Little Boy Blue, was a finalist for this top award but ended up being a runner-up, instead winning the DWAA Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. The Dog Merchants is my first time winning a best book of the year award from DWAA.
Thank you to all of the judges, and congratulations to my co-winner Tracy Libby and all the other dog writers who took home awards today. Kudos all around!