Former bookseller Jessica Stauffer has joined the American Booksellers Association’s staff as program and development coordinator, responsible for supporting all publisher-related programs and initiatives.
Stauffer will be working with ABA Director of Development and Publisher Relations Matthew Zoni and Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger as a liaison between publishers and member booksellers.
With Zoni, Stauffer will work on ABA’s Publisher-Partner Program and the Indie Next List. With Dallanegra-Sanger, she will be involved with the Indies First and Indies Introduce Debut Authors promotions and other initiatives. For Indies Introduce, Stauffer will help track sales of program titles and will compile Bookselling This Week’s author Q&As. She will also be involved in the planning and execution of the Winter Institute and the ABC Children’s Institute, in addition to supporting ABA’s presence at BookExpo.
Stauffer will also assist with the production of the Indie Bestseller List and will work with new ABC Group Manager Gen de Botton to review and edit the ABC Best Books for Young Readers Catalog. On January 1, Zoni handed over the reins of the ABC Children’s Group to de Botton as part of staff changes and promotions related to the retirement of longtime Development Officer Mark Nichols, which were announced in December.
In her new position, Stauffer will make good use of her past experience as a bookseller in both a big store and a small store. Prior to joining ABA, she worked at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California, for a year and a half and then at The Voracious Reader in Larchmont, New York, for a year.
At Vroman’s, Stauffer worked in the adult book department, where her job consisted of “a lot of handselling, shelving, and general maintenance of the section,” she said, adding that the experience provided her with “a good, solid base of knowledge.” By contrast, Stauffer’s experience at the Voracious Reader was more in-depth and involved helping the owner with daily operations, interacting with publicists and publishers, communicating with sales reps on ordering, and planning events.
“Vroman’s has a lot of different departments, but they were really great about letting me see what each department does and they let me sit in with the buyers, so I got a lot of experience that way. The Voracious Reader was much smaller, so I was sitting with the owner every day and definitely got a little more hands-on experience,” she said.
While working at Vroman’s and The Voracious Reader, Stauffer was a provisional member of ABA with hopes of opening her own bookstore. While financial constraints have deferred that dream for now, Stauffer said she still wants to open her own bookstore someday. At the moment, however, she is simply excited to be at ABA.
“I’m just really happy to be here and to get the chance to meet other booksellers and learn more about ABA and how they support the independent bookselling community,” she said. “I think this position plays to a lot of my strengths, and my meetings with Joy and Matt and Gen made it clear that this is good spot for me. I’m really excited about it.”
Stauffer, who majored in communications at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, said her personal literary tastes lean toward sci-fi and fantasy (mostly fantasy), teen and YA literature, and historical fiction. “I have a soft spot in my heart for classic children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland,” she added, “but it was also really exciting when I worked at The Voracious Reader to see all the new contemporary picture books that were coming out.”
Stauffer will be attending her very first Winter Institute in Minneapolis this month, so booksellers should be sure to say hello. Booksellers will also be able to meet Stauffer this April at the Children’s Institute in Portland, Oregon, and at BookExpo in late May in New York City.
Stauffer can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7546, or at [email protected].