Despite the fact that spring officially arrived yesterday — and the wintry weather is still affecting much of the country — I did want to begin this month’s letter with a final word about the recent Winter Institute. Though I said it in Kansas City, the entire ABA staff wants to once again thank everyone who worked so hard to make Wi8 a success under conditions that were sometimes challenging — booksellers, publisher partners, plenary speakers, guest presenters, and especially our lead sponsor, Ingram. The energy and commitment you all brought with you to Kansas City made this year’s institute a very special experience for all of us.
But, despite the snow on the ground here in New York as I write this, spring has arrived, and for us at ABA this is the beginning of the Spring Forum season. This year’s 11 forums, held in conjunction with the regional booksellers associations, began in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and will continue until May 8. (Here’s a link to more information and the full Spring Forum schedule.)
The Spring Forum meetings combine an educational session with an open forum discussion, and each year we work to hold them in different locations, to give as many booksellers as possible an opportunity to attend. The discussions at the forums offer ABA an indispensable opportunity to hear what is on your minds, to learn what issues are directly affecting your businesses, to give you an update on ABA initiatives, and to share ideas and insights.
I’ve been traveling to Spring Forum meetings now for more years that I can count, and I can honestly say there hasn’t been one meeting that my colleagues and I didn’t come away having heard feedback or information that helped ABA work better on behalf of members.
The forum meetings have no formal agenda, which has always been a key to their success, as members can address any issue that they feel is important. Without setting an agenda, it’s safe to say that in the upcoming weeks we expect the discussions at the forums will range across a variety of topics, including how sales in the first quarter of 2013 have been shaping up (have they kept up with the strong sales we saw through most of 2012?); the effects of the localism movement in your community; some of the innovative things you are doing regarding events to attract customers to your stores; how you are adding value to your stores’ websites; your experiences with selling Kobo eReaders and eBooks; the fight for sales tax equity in your state; your reactions and feedback to the first multi-publisher marketing program, “Thanks for Shopping Indie”; and your plans regarding BookExpo America.
Speaking of the “Thanks for Shopping Indie” promotion, this past week ABA announced another round of multi-publisher promotions that we are calling “Celebrate (With) Indies.” Titles for these new promotions celebrating debut authors, moms, dads, and grads were selected by booksellers, and many are Indie Next List Picks and Indie Bestsellers. It’s another opportunity for stores to take advantage of some special offers while helping demonstrate the critical role indie bookstores play in selling books across all channels. Booksellers keep telling us about the critical importance of reinventing how we do business and these new initiatives are one way in which our colleagues in the publishing community are responding. We hope all stores will want to participate. For more information, go to BookWeb.org/celebrate.
At the majority of this round of Spring Forum meetings, we will also be presenting a new education session — “The Top 10 Things You Must Do Now!” This session is drawn from the results of a recent booksellers’ survey in which ABA bookstore members nationwide shared the ideas and best practices that had most helped to make their stores successful and profitable in 2012. The top 10 ideas cover such key subjects as marketing/promotion, finances, inventory, customer service, and more. And we know that the exchange among booksellers during the session will highlight a number of additional good ideas! So, please try to join us.
Looking beyond the Spring Forums, BookExpo America (BEA) begins on Wednesday, May 29, with a compelling ABA-featured plenary, breakout educational sessions, a special tour of children’s book artist/illustrator studios for members of the ABC Children’s Group at ABA, and the children’s art auction to benefit ABFFE’s defense of the free speech rights of young readers.
This year, we are also working with our colleagues at BEA to introduce some great enhancements and new benefits to the ABA members’ lounge, including author signings and greater access to ARCs. We are organizing publisher/bookseller focus group meetings, based on their success at Wi8, and are looking forward to another inspiring Celebration of Bookselling luncheon. The ABA Town Hall and Annual Meeting will give us an important opportunity for updates and communication. And, of course, there will be a chance on the BEA trade floor to get an overview of the upcoming lists of publishers of all sizes and specialties. BEA is an unparalleled event, an opportunity for all segments of our industry to meet, and, we believe, a unique resource that indie booksellers can use to help their stores grow and prosper.
We’re happy to note, too, that we were able to respond to the feedback from members about the importance of a Hotel ABA for BookExpo America. This year’s hotel exclusively for ABA member booksellers attending BEA is the Grand Hyatt New York, located at 42nd Street and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. (Here’s more information about the hotel and room rates.)
In addition, all ABA member stores in good standing that book rooms at Hotel ABA will be eligible to win one of 56 prizes provided by BEA to help reduce ABA members’ expenses to attend the show in NYC, where, we all know, hotel rates are high. So, if you are coming to BEA, I strongly encourage you to book your room at Hotel ABA before the April 1 deadline, so that you, too, can be entered into a drawing for one of the following prizes:
- 1 grand prize of four free hotel nights (room and tax)
- 5 second place prizes of three free hotel nights (room and tax)
- 15 third place prizes of two free hotel nights (room and tax)
- 35 fourth place prizes of one free hotel nights (room and tax)
The special rate at Hotel ABA is only available until April 1, 2013, or until the block is full, for accommodations from Monday, May 27, through Sunday, June 2. So, if you are thinking of coming to New York, this is the time to book. Every store that reserves one room or more will automatically be entered into the drawing for the free nights.
For my colleagues and me, one of the highlights of our jobs is the opportunity to meet with you, visit your stores, to hear your comments and feedback. We hope to see you soon, hopefully at both an upcoming Spring Forum and at BookExpo America. And you can always reach us by e-mail or phone.
All best regards.
Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association