A Letter From ABA CEO Oren Teicher

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Dear Booksellers:

Hope everyone is having a good summer. I know that for some stores July and August is like Christmas, so this is a busy time.

In my letter back in June, I encouraged you to fill out the 2014 ABA Member Satisfaction Survey, and the first thing I’d like to say this month is many thanks to all of you who shared your feedback and thoughts with us.

We are always grateful to get your assessment of ABA’s initiatives and programming and to hear your suggestions. ABA is a better association because of your input, and I assure you that we are already relying on what you’ve told us in our planning for the months ahead.

Bookselling This Week will be reporting on the results of the survey in the coming weeks, but here are a few highlights:

Information and education remain the most valued services of ABA. Approximately eight in 10 of those responding said that networking with fellow booksellers and industry information are critically important association functions. More than 70 percent of those surveyed said that the Winter Institute was either a primary or strong factor in their decision to renew their ABA membership.

But marketing and IndieCommerce are important, too. More than 70 percent of those responding noted that the DIY marketing materials and IndieBound were either a primary or strong factor when deciding to remain ABA members, while approximately 65 percent said that IndieCommerce was either a primary or strong reason for their decision to rejoin ABA.

And more than 90 percent of those responding to the survey said that they were very likely to renew their ABA membership.

To be sure, we don’t take that last stat for granted. We are reading very carefully the scores of comments that you submitted as part of the survey — especially those that pointed to areas where booksellers thought ABA could be doing a better job.

All comments were submitted to the survey anonymously in order to encourage candor and direct communication. But, to those of you who left a comment in the survey raising either a specific question or offering to get involved with an ABA committee or program, please, send me an e-mail so that we can connect and I can reply appropriately.

On another matter, as is reported in this week’s BTW, the ABA Board met last week, and, as part of their work, reviewed both the association’s work in meeting ABA’s Ends Policies and the Ends Policies themselves. This is one of the most essential governance roles of our Board, as the Ends Policies direct and prioritize all of ABA’s initiatives and programs.

At the meeting, the Board voted to approve a change to Ends Policy D(1) to make clear the importance of the issue of diversity in our industry.

That Ends Policy now reads:

“Member stores will be represented within groups of appropriate allies dealing with issues of literacy, culture, diversity, and the development of new readers.”

Last week, the Board was also part of a symposium on the future of book retailing that ABA organized with the goal of generating new ideas, discussing relevant trends, and identifying possible new ABA initiatives to help members strengthen their businesses. Thought leaders from the book business and beyond were part of this meeting, and we’re currently evaluating and processing the results of the discussions, which were facilitated by Ivan Barkhorn, managing director of Redstone Strategy Group.

The goal of the symposium was to provide the association with insights to inform strategy decisions aimed at helping member stores benefit from current or future trends in the book business, and you’ll be hearing more about it in the months ahead. But, for now, I wanted to extend ABA’s thanks to all the participants for their insightful and energetic participation. We were most fortunate to have assembled this stellar group of very knowledgeable people:

  • Robin Adelson, Executive Director, Children’s Book Council
  • Tom Allen, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers
  • Laurie Halse Anderson, Author
  • Peter Berkery, Executive Director, Association of American University Presses
  • Mike Brey, Owner, Hobby Works
  • Michael Cader, Founder, Publishers Lunch
  • Brian Cartier, CEO, National Association of College Stores
  • Donna Fenn, Author
  • Lance Fensterman, Group Vice President, Reed Exhibitions
  • Tim Godfray, CEO, The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom and Ireland
  • Erin Henkel, Senior Design Lead, IDEO
  • Peter Hildick-Smith, Founder and CEO, Codex Group LLC
  • Jim Milliot, Editorial Director, Publishers Weekly
  • Stacy Mitchell, Director, Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • John Mutter, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Shelf Awareness
  • Robbin Phillips, Courageous President, Brains on Fire
  • Ryan Raffaelli, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Linda Rottenberg, CEO and Co-Founder, Endeavor
  • John Rubin, Founder and CEO, Above the Treeline
  • Marly Rusoff, Founder, Marly Rusoff Literary Agency
  • Richard Russo, Author
  • Matt Supko, Technical Architect and Senior Developer, Augment Digital Workshop
  • Len Vlahos, Executive Director, Book Industry Study Group

As the group interacted with the ABA Board, it once again became obvious that the association is very well-served by the 10 members of our Board. They are an incredible group, and we don’t get the chance to thank them often enough for all they do on behalf of ABA. Thank you!

As I said, these are busy weeks for all of us, but I do hope in the midst of your selling lots of books you also have time for some summer R&R.

It will be fall before we know it, and I’ll look forward to saying hello at one of the upcoming regional trade shows. In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of the summer.

Warm regards,

Oren Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association