ABA’s CEO Reflects on Last Week’s BEA

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Dear Booksellers:

It was good to see many of you at BookExpo America this past week. I hope you had a productive — and fun — few days in New York while sharing firsthand the renewed sense of optimism about indie bookselling from all quarters.

If you were unable to attend BEA, perhaps you saw some of the news accounts about the show and read the reports about indie bookstores becoming a “growth industry” once again. I can tell you that the positive vibes were felt throughout the Javits Center.

ABA was very happy to be able to report at BEA that for the fourth year in a row our membership numbers have continued to show a modest increase, and that sales across the network of stores reporting to our bestseller list are maintaining the strong gains we achieved in 2012.

As I indicated during my report at the Annual Membership Meeting, we at ABA know that success results from all your hard work. And, as I also said, despite the overall good news, we fully understand that some stores are still struggling. ABA is committed to doing whatever we can to help all members do better. As always, it was great to hear your feedback, comments, and suggestions at the Town Hall meeting. My colleagues and I came back to the ABA offices with some key items to follow up on.

The highlight at BEA, of course, was that the effort initiated two years ago to encourage publishers to take out a clean sheet of paper and to look at changing the ways we do business has resulted in myriad improvements. We are far from done, but the good news is that many publishers absolutely recognize the indispensable role indie bricks-and-mortar bookstores play in helping readers discover titles — and they are demonstrating their understanding that it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that there remains a strong and viable network of indie stores all across the country.

A few other brief items to keep in mind:

  1. Please be sure to take a look at our new “Indies Introduce” campaign. Here’s a chance to feature some of the best new titles for children and adults, all selected by a group of your colleagues. You can sign up online, and it’s quick and easy;
  2. Be certain to find out about ABA’s new program to review and analyze your credit card processing fees; here is a real opportunity to save money; and
  3. If you are participating in the Kobo program, please remember that our NPR sponsorship messages about Kobo eReaders and eBooks begins this week. Your best customers will now be hearing about your ability to sell e-reading devices and digital content.

During BEA, we had a few occasions to express our enormous thanks and appreciation to outgoing Board members Tom Campbell of The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, North Carolina, and Becky Anderson, Anderson’s Bookshops, Naperville, Illinois. Tom served with real distinction as a member of the ABA Board for the past six years. Becky served as ABA’s Vice-President and, for the past two years, as our President. She’s been a tireless — and effective — leader of our association, and all of us at ABA could not be more grateful and appreciative for all she has accomplished on behalf of indie booksellers. While we will miss both Tom and Becky, we were happy to welcome Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Connecticut, and Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Washington, as new members of the ABA Board during BEA.

I want to thank all the presenters at the various ABA education sessions held during BEA, particularly John Sargent from Macmillan for agreeing to be our Opening Plenary speaker. We worked closely with our colleagues at BEA this year to coordinate more of our respective educational programming, and we’ll continue those efforts next year. And thanks, too, to the Children’s Book Council, with which ABA again worked closely on the show’s children’s bookselling-related programming.

Thanks go to our entire Board of Directors for their support and hard work; to our Booksellers Advisory Council for their gracious willingness to stay an additional day in New York to both debrief and to provide valuable advice on a wide range of matters; and, last but not least, my enormous thanks and appreciation to the remarkable ABA staff. You guys rock!

Here’s to a successful start to the summer selling season!

Warm regards,

Oren Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association

P.S. We know that updates on ABA’s programs and initiatives may be of interest to other staff members in your stores. One easy way to share information is to encourage them to sign up for a free subscription to Bookselling This Week, ABA’s weekly e-newsletter. Anyone who would like to receive BTW can subscribe here.