ABA Board Members Set Resolutions for 2020

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Bookselling This Week has compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions from members of the American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors, who were asked to share their top goals for the New Year to help inspire other booksellers to set their own resolutions for the coming year.

Take a look at what some of ABA’s board directors have planned for 2020.

Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina: My bookselling resolution for the coming year is to go back to the basics with our staff and really talk about hand-selling and pairing up the right book with the right reader. I’d also like to continue to blend our online presence with our bricks-and-mortar shop to remind customers when they’re shopping in one that the other also exists. My ABA Board service resolution is to continue to work on communication between the board and our members, staff and regional organizations.

Bradley Graham, co-owner of Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.: As a store owner, to focus on staff training and career development, pursue more targeted marketing of books and events, improve our budgeting process, explore new partnering and outreach opportunities, and consider other ways of growing in place. As an ABA officer, to work with other board members and staff in understanding better where the book business is heading and determining what more can be done at the association level to boost profit margins for independent bookstores. 

Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine: To make a truly effective little handout to give to price-conscience shoppers who want to know what we are charging for a given book. It would be for folks who share with us, for example, that a particular book with a $30 list price can be bought on Amazon for $11.14 and what do we want for it? I’ve never been really satisfied with any of the out-of-the-box why-we-matter/shop local type messages I’ve seen. I am resolved to have a serious go at the creation of one that stands at least a reasonable chance of success of transmuting these civility-challenged moments.

Kelly Estep, co-owner of Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky: My resolution this year is to more clearly connect with our community in a way that will ultimately support our business and keep it growing. We are opening a dedicated event space and that will mean an expanded events schedule with some of those possibly being non-book related. Continuing the conversation with customers, community members, and our local and state government that local businesses need and deserve their support is a big part of that goal. For the board, this year is also about connection and direction with an exciting new leadership team at ABA. It’s an exciting time to be a bookseller and a privilege to be part of this transition at ABA.

Chris Morrow, owner of Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Manchester Center, Vermont: My resolutions for 2020 are tapping into natural joy more, finding ways to increase and improve conversations about the important issues of our time, making more time to read, and selling more books.

Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California: I’m resolved to finally implement several changes here that I’ve been meaning to try for years. Now that we have three stores, we can test things at one before rolling them out at all shops, so I plan to finally:

  • Enable customers to text the store — I’ve been dithering and trying to find the best solution for a while, but we’re just going to buy a phone and go for it
  • Try a “round up” program to raise money for a different cause each month (with props to Northshire for the inspiration)
  • Test a paid membership program

It’s always easier to put these things off than to make changes, but with a strong management team, a new store that’s open to change, and what I’ve learned from peers, why wait?

Christine Onorati, owner of WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey: My bookselling resolution for 2020 is not unique or new: I want to see our two locations get leaner and more profitable by adjusting the product mix and being eagle-eyed about payroll. Now that my husband is running the stores along with me, we are both keenly focused on rethinking what the stores actually require to run smoothly, the events we do, the books we carry, the ratio of non-book items — basically everything. Isn’t that what being a bookseller really is these days — being adaptable and nimble to change with our community and with the times? We’re looking forward to another year of change and growth.

Angela Maria Spring, owner of Duende District Books in Washington, D.C.: My resolutions are to make sure my infant and my business survive the year. Not terribly exciting, but it’s all I’ve got.

Tegan Tigani, children’s book buyer at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, Washington: My bookselling resolution is to read further ahead so I can make more Indie Next List nominations, work through my TBR pile in a strategic way, and do a better job buying with the full season in mind. In 2020, I will prioritize debut authors and diverse voices so my staff picks can broaden my customers’ reading as well as my own.

Continue the conversation! Visit ABA on Facebook and Twitter to share your own New Year’s resolutions for 2020.