On Monday, September 9, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher appeared in conversation with Tim Godfray, executive chairman of the Booksellers Association of Ireland and the U.K., during the BA’s 2019 book trade conference in Birmingham, U.K.
Both Teicher and Godfray are preparing for retirement from their respective bookseller associations this year. During their conversation, which was reported on in full by The Bookseller, Teicher talked about the new generation of booksellers joining the business in the U.S.
“There was a long period at ABA when I would look out at a room of people, and we were all of the same age. We were all a group of aging baby boomers, and that’s not true anymore,” Teicher said. “There’s a whole lot more younger people in our business, as obviously there are here, and that gives me an enormous sense of optimism for the future. I think the torch has been passed. I don’t minimize the challenges that that next generation of booksellers are going to have, but what I have observed is that there is a resilience about people in this business that is pretty extraordinary. People who own and operate bookshops are unique. I am optimistic. I’m sure whoever is sitting on this stage 30 years from now will also talk about the continued resilience of booksellers. I don’t think we are going anywhere.”
Looking at the British bookselling business, Godfray noted, “Consumers are coming back to printed books, publishers appear to be making more beautiful, physical books, the media are supporting bookshops and consumers are much more aware of what their communities would be like without bookshops. I am optimistic. Leaving the BA at a time when you read in the trade press stories that independent bookshops are bucking the trend in our country that is going through a pretty gloomy period and having all this positive messaging and vibrancy and optimism coming out of the bookselling community in the U.K. and in Ireland is wonderful.”
During the conference, Teicher was honored with an award from the Booksellers Association for “outstanding international contribution to independent bookselling.”