ABA President Steve Bercu’s First Letter of 2014

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Dear Fellow Booksellers:

What a great time of the year! We have just finished the holidays and are right before Winter Institute 9. As far as I can tell, it was a very positive season for many of us. Many stores had record sales during the holidays. I read about best single days in store history, best holiday seasons, and best years for many stores (BookPeople had its two best single days and fourth consecutive best year). It is this sort of news that makes us know that print is here for the very long term and that we are an integral part of getting print to people.

Be certain to take the time to fill out the short survey about your holiday sales that arrived on Monday, January 6, in an e-mail from ABA’s CEO, Oren Teicher. [If you can’t find the e-mail, please let ABA’s member relationship managers know and they’ll send it along.] Each year, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance compiles this survey across indie retail, and this year it is working with Advocates for Independent Business, the coalition co-founded this past fall by ABA. The survey has proven to be an invaluable tool in our continual conversations about the value of local business to our communities. The deadline for completing the survey is midnight PST on next Tuesday, January 21.

January 21 is also the date of the Opening Reception for Wi9. This year’s institute has sold out, and it’s going to be the biggest and best one we have had so far. The task for us now is to determine how we can deliver the same high level of education and collegial experience to even more of our members. I expect to see many of you in Seattle and, as usual, to learn a lot while we are there.

During the next few months, everyone who has an IndieCommerce website will be moving to Drupal 7. It looks like we will be able to do much more and do it better, and at the same time make our stores more competitive in the digital age. I urge every single store, no matter what your level of sales or digital knowledge, to take a serious look at joining IndieCommerce. This is definitely a place where more is better. If you want to feel better about your pathetic digital capability, just talk to me at Wi9 or give me a call. You can ask me almost anything about these issues and receive the satisfaction of realizing that you know more than I do about it.

I also want to remind you to share your creative marketing, promotional, and publicity ideas for anything — not just Indies First — with ABA. Please send your stories to Dan Cullen. He and his colleagues are tasked with developing ABA’s educational programming, and they are always on the lookout for great ideas to share at upcoming gatherings of ABA members.

If you have time, feel free to write a letter of support to the French government in their effort to make free shipping illegal in France. As you know, they are doing this to support their local bookstores and other small retailers. Et ça me plaît beaucoup!

Now it is time to start packing for Wi9.

I hope you had a wonderful season! See you in Seattle.

Steve Bercu
President, American Booksellers Association
Austin, Texas