Ahead of the final breakfast keynote at Winter Institute 12, ABA CEO Oren Teicher took the stage to bid a heartfelt farewell to ABA Development Officer Mark Nichols, who is retiring following Winter Institute.
“Mark has been instrumental in every single thing that ABA does. He’s been an extraordinary member of our team for 16 years, and to say that we’re going to miss him is just one big understatement,” said Teicher. “His mark, literally, is on everything that we do at ABA. There is nobody in this business who works harder. There is nobody who is more widely respected. And no one — and I really mean no one — who has more friends in the book business than Mark Nichols.”
ABA President Betsy Burton joined Teicher on stage to present two gifts to Nichols: a one-of-a-kind calendar featuring illustrations of New York City bookstores and an illustration of Posman Books’ former bookstore in Grand Central Terminal, where Nichols frequently shopped for reading materials for his commute from the city to ABA’s office in Westchester.
New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein, whose bookstore illustrations are featured in the collection Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments From Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers (Clarkson Potter), graciously provided the illustrations for Nichols’ gifts.
Burton said, “We booksellers, and I know I speak for all of us, love and respect Mark and can’t imagine what our world will be like without him. I’m sure publishers feel the same way, not to mention the colleagues who have had the pleasure of working alongside him every day for all those years.
“We’ll all miss him sorely, but his presence will not only linger in our hearts but in our lives. He’s had a way of bringing out the best in all of us, something that once learned just doesn’t go away,” concluded Burton.
Nichols, who was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers from attendees, said his entire career has been about family, hands, and heart.
“Family: You are all my family. My colleagues throughout the years have been my family. My colleagues at ABA are my very special family,” said Nichols.
“Hands: I started my career with 18 years handselling books. I’m going to finish my career handselling books, and I can’t wait. I don’t want to begrudge my time at ABA; I’ve loved everything I’ve done. I loved this whole experience here. I know I’ve handed things off into very capable hands and I hope you will support them going forward.
“Heart: Your hearts are so incredibly large and you have taken me into them and I can’t think of any words of my own that express anything better than the end of a poem by one of my favorite poets, E.E. Cummings.”
Nichols shared these final lines from Cummings’ poem “i carry your heart with me”:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)