We’re happy to announce that our founder and CEO, Don Leeper, is the 2015 Recipient of the Pat Bell Award from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MIPA).

Don received his award at the 25th Annual Midwest Book Awards Gala on May 13, 2015, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

MIPA serves the publishing community in the Midwest by sharing book production, publicity, and marketing information through educational meetings and networking. The Pat Bell Award was established in 2010 to honor Pat Bell, “the rock” of MIPA and a long-time board member. Don says,

I’m truly honored to receive the Pat Bell Award. I’ve learned a lot from MIPA—a group of very entrepreneurial publishers!

MIPA describes Don as “a pioneer in independent publishing in the Midwest,” and we agree! From Bill Hammond, Editor and Author, who introduced Don at the awards,

I met Don in 1995 while driving down from St. Paul to Hazelden Publishing with my friend and colleague, Dan Odegard. Dan knew Don quite well and was anxious for me to meet him. After spending an hour with Don I realized I had just met a man of considerable character and expertise. Although at the time I had already invested 21 years in the book publishing industry—serving in such capacities as sales manager, editor, CFO, and publisher—I sensed I still had a lot to learn about publishing from Don. As it turned out, I was right.

Bookmobile is an independent company, and we just celebrated our 33rd anniversary (read more about our beginnings here). Bookmobile has served over 1,000 publishers in our 33 years, and we employ over 60 people at our offices and print shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As publishing has changed, Don has kept Bookmobile growing and thriving—from our beginnings as one of the very first digital printers, to the expansion of our offerings to include eBook conversions, print distribution to the trade, and Direct-to-Consumer services for publishers, to our current focus on broadening our color printing services for the art book market. Don is great leader not only externally, but internally as well. I’ve worked for him for 17 years and I’m not even his longest-term employee—Judy Ogren and Sarah Purdy hold the record at 28 years, then Kim Doughty at 20, and Mary Oakley at 18. That kind of employee longevity is evidence of a great boss and company culture.

You can read, and learn, more from Don himself on our Blog.