ABA's New Digital Task Force Has First Meeting

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On Wednesday, January 10, ABA's new Digital Task Force (DTF) held its first meeting at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, in Brooklyn, New York.

The DTF is composed of 10 booksellers and industry professionals and five ABA staff members, and it is charged with looking at the myriad technical changes affecting the world of consumer book consumption, from the digitization of content to the burgeoning world of online social networking. The goal of the DTF will be to help advise ABA on devising strategies to address these issues.

At the first meeting, members heard a presentation by Len Vlahos, ABA's director of BookSense.com and Education, on some of the key trends driving changes in the industry and contemporary media. In addition, Oren Teicher, ABA COO, briefed the members on a relevant report from the Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Brave New World: Digitisation of Content, and the task force members joined in a discussion on blogging and online content creation led by Dan Cullen, the director of ABA's Information Department. However, the majority of the meeting was spent in a detailed discussion of booksellers' first-hand experience of how technology is affecting consumers' tastes and expectations, and how they are adopting their business models to meet those changes.

Writing about the meeting on her blog, The Written Nerd, bookseller Jessica Stockton of McNally Robinson Booksellers in New York City, said "We talked about what we'd like ABA to do for bookstores as our industry changes. We got excited about some possibilities, and occasionally bleak about others. We talked about ways for us to take the unique community of booksellers, that learns something every time we get around a table together, and make our conversation possible over space and time through Internet networking. We talked about how to stay at the table as the possibility of a viable e-reader looks imminent. We talked about how to keep talking," and she noted that "the DTF was a chance to start dreaming in digital, so indie booksellers will be ready when digital comes."

"We couldn't be happier with this first meeting of the Digital Task Force. It is focusing on crucially important issues, and complex ones," said Vlahos. "We touched on many key topics, and the discussions were smart, insightful, and invaluable in helping us begin to identify how ABA might provide the most value to its members in navigating through the technosphere. However, this is only the first step of a longer process, and we are really grateful to the task force participants for their commitment and hard work on behalf of their colleagues and the industry." --Dan Cullen

The members of the Digital Task Force are:

  • Alan Coon and Kelley Drahusuk (Spotty Dog Books, Hudson, NY)
  • Aubrey Davis (Arches Book Co., Moab, UT)
  • Russ Lawrence (ABA President, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT)
  • Bridget Rothenberger (Nomad Book House, Jackson, MI)
  • Steve Smith (Shaman Drum, Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Bob Sommer (Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ)
  • Jessica Stockton (McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, NY)
  • Neil Strandberg (Tattered Cover, Denver, CO)
  • Michael Tucker (ABA Board Member, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA)
  • Dave Weich (Powells.com, Portland, OR)

  • Avin Domnitz (CEO, American Booksellers Association)
  • Oren Teicher (COO, American Booksellers Association)
  • Len Vlahos (Director, BookSense.com & Education, American Booksellers Assoc.)
  • Dan Cullen (Director Information Department, American Booksellers Association)
  • Ricky Leung (Technical Lead, BookSense.com)