ABA Forums in Idaho and New Mexico Cover New Strategic Plan and BTW

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Last weekend was a busy one for the ABA. On Friday, March 22, booksellers gathered for a Booksellers Forum and financial seminar, held in conjunction with the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association (MPBA) Spring Meeting, at the Marriott Downtown in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and on Saturday, March 23, over 35 booksellers attended a forum and Book Sense seminar, held in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Spring Trade Show, at the Coeur D’Alene Resort in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

Attending the Albuquerque seminar and forum from ABA were Avin Mark Domnitz, association CEO, and ABA Board member Matthew Miller of the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. Also present were ABA Booksellers Advisory Council member Bob Sommer of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, and MPBA Executive Director Lisa Knudsen.

Present for the Coeur D’Alene meeting were ABA President Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California; Bookseller Advisory Council member Luanne Kreutzer of St. Helens Book Shop, St. Helens, Oregon; and ABA Senior Marketing Consultant Carl Lennertz.

In many ways, the New Mexico and Idaho forums touched upon similar themes and member-related issues, with the main points of discussion being the new ABA Strategic Plan and Bookselling This Week online.

Booksellers at both forums were asked to consider the draft wording of ABA’s proposed Vision Statement, and then to offer comments and input regarding the proposed Strategic Goals.

Danielle Freeman, book buyer and event coordinator for Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado, attended the Albuquerque forum. "I was impressed with how well the various points made by booksellers [about the Goals] were answered," she said. Freeman said she was struck by "how the questions brought out information…. I felt like I was learning so much."

The basic consensus about the Strategic Plan at the Idaho forum was that the "association was taking the right direction," said Coonerty.

As for BTW, some attendees in Albuquerque and Coeur D’Alene expressed concern over the loss of the ABA industry newsletter in print form. Tattered Cover’s Miller noted that, in Albuquerque, much of the BTW discussion centered around different ways it might be printed off the Internet, so booksellers "could hold it in their hands."

Meanwhile, Coonerty noted that, while booksellers at the Coeur D’Alene meeting did say that they missed the paper version of BTW, they also commented on the fact that, since the newsletter went online, it is more timely and offered more information. "People understood why [the newsletter went online]," he said. "I think they felt better about it."

Both the Idaho and Albuquerque forums were preceded by seminars. In Coeur D’Alene, ABA’s Carl Lennertz held a seminar, "Book Sense for Retail Booksellers," from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. He talked with booksellers about the Book Sense program, the changes and improvements being made, and how booksellers’ efforts are paying off with expanded recognition and increased sales.

In Albuquerque, ABA CEO Domnitz conducted his seminar, "Basic Bookstore Finances," from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Once again, it was the highlight of the day for many booksellers. "It was wonderful," said Sommer. "Avin knows his stuff; presents it in a lively, light-hearted manner; and listens and responds well to questions and fits the workshop to the needs of those present."

MPBA’s Knudsen concurred. "It really seemed to me like an excellent system for booksellers to organize throughout the year, and do their budgeting and planning."