A Letter From ABA CEO Oren Teicher

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ABA logoDear Booksellers,

There are a few ABA-related things I want to highlight this month, but as I begin this letter, I very much want to acknowledge that millions of people in Houston, Harris County, and beyond have begun what will be the long, hard job of recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a disaster of epic scope. Harris County is the second-largest county in the U.S., with six million people, and the scenes of destruction, suffering, and displacement have been harrowing. But, heartrendingly, that was not the whole story, and witnessing the actions of the first responders, medical professionals, and citizens from Houston and beyond has been inspiring.

Inspiring, too, but not surprising, has been the response following Harvey from the bookselling, publishing, and wholesaling communities. On social media and in bookstores’ e-mails, we read about the many bookstores that were donating portions of their sales to relief efforts, not to mention the many individual efforts on the part of booksellers. In addition, our colleagues in the publishing industry are also offering assistance to bookstores, libraries, and community efforts. And, as is always the case, integral to relief efforts in our industry has been the work of the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation, which, as a core part of its mission, provides emergency financial assistance to booksellers in times of natural disaster.

In support of all this work, ABA will be making an additional contribution of $5,000 to Binc and will also match any additional contributions that Binc receives between August 31 and September 15 up to another $5,000. The booksellers affected by Harvey are hard at work in helping their communities rebuild; let’s do what we can to support them. And, of course, as I write this on September 5, the weather forecast for yet another hurricane is dominating the news; let’s hope this one blows out to sea.

On a much happier topic, just one week from today, ABA will open registration for Winter Institute 13, to be held in Memphis, Tennessee, from January 22–25, 2018. As has been the case for many years now, we expect that the institute will fill up quickly. If you are planning on attending Wi13, I can’t urge you strongly enough to register early, to avoid having to put yourself on the event’s waiting list. Set an alarm... put a post-it note on your computer… tie a knot around your finger! Whatever it takes, if you are planning to come to Wi13, I hope you are ready next Wednesday, September 13, when the registration page goes live on BookWeb at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

When you read the details about the Wi13 programming next week, I think you will be very pleased. With the help of our publishing partners, Wi13 is going to have one of the strongest lineups of keynote speakers in years. (Here’s this week’s BTW coverage of the keynote speakers.) And, thanks to the many contributions of the ABA Educational Task Force, the Booksellers Advisory Council, the ABA Board, and many, many member booksellers, the schedule of educational sessions will be very strong, with offerings for a wide range of interests and levels of experience.

This year especially, I urge you to review the full Wi13 schedule when making your travel and hotel plans. Monday, January 22, at Wi13 will have a wealth of programming, including an introduction to bookselling workshop, a full-day workshop on bookstore finances, an IndieCommerce Institute, and discounted admission to the National Civil Rights Museum and to Graceland for institute attendees, as well as special all-day tours to visit Faulkner sites and Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, and a Civil Rights/blues tour to Greenwood, Mississippi. In addition, our friends at Ingram — Wi13’s lead sponsor — will be offering the opportunity for booksellers to make Nashville their Wi13 arrival city on Sunday, January 21, for a reception that evening and tour of Ingram facilities on Monday, January 22. Later that day, Ingram will provide a special bus service to Wi13 from Nashville, getting booksellers to Memphis in time for the opening reception that evening. So — if you can — include that Monday, January 22, as a part of your plans.

And we have something special planned for the concluding hours of the institute as well. We’ll have more info in the coming weeks, but, if you’re coming to Wi13, I urge you not to miss a special presentation of the Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, set for Thursday, January 25, just before the Wi13 closing reception. Thacker Mountain will be a blend of lively music, fun conversations with authors, and a couple of great surprises. The folks at Thacker Mountain have long worked with Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, and we are thrilled that they will be a part of the Wi13 program.

So, to sum it up: There’s more than ever planned for the Winter Institute. My colleagues and I hope that you will be there for all of it, and don’t forget that registration opens next Wednesday, September 13, at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Coming much sooner than Wi13 are the fall regional trade shows, and my ABA colleagues and I hope that we will be seeing you at one of them. At the fall shows, you can stop by the ABA booth, where you can leave a business card to register for a chance to win a Wi13 scholarship and collect information about Indies First on Small Business Saturday, the newest Indies Introduce selections, the upcoming Children’s Institute, IndieLite, and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to sign up for special one-on-one sessions with members of the IndieCommerce team to talk about your IndieCommerce website, and ABA will be presenting a new educational session on the increasing importance of backlist. The first show of the year will be SIBA’s, from September 15–17 in New Orleans.

In addition, in New Orleans on Thursday, September 14, the day before the opening of the SIBA show, ABA will be offering the first of two special workshops on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Addressing Stereotypes and Creating a Welcoming Environment.” The presenters of this workshop from Cultures Connecting — Ilsa Marie Govan and Caprice D. Hollins — are experienced and their work has been hailed by a number of organizations and attendees, including ABA’s president, Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in Seattle and ABA’s staff, who were part of a full-day workshop on diversity that Govan led for ABA last month. (ABA will also be offering the full-day workshop on Wednesday, October 11, ahead of the MPIBA fall trade show at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel in Denver. There, the workshop will be led by Govan.)

Both of these workshops are a unique opportunity to spend a day focused on an issue of utmost importance. I totally understand that not all stores have the opportunity or the resources to come to one of these diversity workshops, but if you can, I urge you to strongly consider attending. I know it will be an eye-opening and extremely beneficial day.

Here’s more information about the workshops.

Finally, Indies First on Small Business Saturday will be held this year on November 25, and it’s not too soon to begin planning. This year’s Indies First spokesperson is author Jason Reynolds, and if you haven’t yet watched the video he shared last month urging his fellow authors to visit their local bookstores on Indies First/Small Business Saturday, do it now! Then, given how fired up you will be after the video, check out the numerous specials that publishers and university presses are offering on a wide array of frontlist and backlist titles in support of the event.

A key point that ABA has conveyed in our ongoing individual meetings with publishers has been the importance of making these special offers as straightforward and easy to implement as possible, and as they make their individual decisions about offers many publishers have done just that. Taking into account the publishers handled by distributors, there are literally hundreds of participating publishers, including more than 30 university presses.

Please, do carefully review the information about publishers’ Indies First offers. By utilizing them, you have the opportunity to present your customers with a rich and diverse range of titles this holiday season at a much-improved cost of goods.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we move further into the fall, I hope to see many of you at the regional fall shows and diversity workshops, and, if we don’t have a chance to catch up there, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any comments, feedback, and questions. As always, ABA is a more effective organization when members speak up and participate.

Warm regards.


Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association