This week, the Spring Forum travel season will begin for ABA, and my colleagues and I are very much looking forward to the 10 meetings that will be held in nine states between March 16 and April 25.
This is a big anniversary year for the forums. ABA began traveling in the spring to different cities and towns to meet with member bookstores 20 years ago, and since 1998 there have been more than 220 forums, where by my back-of-the-envelope estimate we have met with more than 8,000 booksellers. That’s a lot of booksellers and a lot of meetings!
Recognizing how central education is to meeting your goals, from the beginning, ABA’s forums have included new educational programming. (This year we are presenting a new session, “A Year of Bookstore Profitability,” with a year-long calendar of effective steps that bookstores can implement to boost sales and improve the bottom line.) But what makes these gatherings unique is that they are a key opportunity for ABA to meet directly with members so that we can hear your concerns, thoughts, feedback, and ideas in an informal setting that allows for meaningful dialogue and interaction. As always, we appreciate that in some parts of the country coming to a forum does involve travel, but over the years we have done our best to move the meetings to different cities in order to make them as accessible as possible to the largest number of members. Your participation has made ABA a more effective organization, and I hope you will be able to join us as we visit your part of the country over the coming weeks.
As many of you have heard me say at the opening of a Spring Forum meeting, ABA comes to these meetings with no agenda — our goal is to listen, and to answer your questions and respond to your input. Our conversations with you at the Spring Forums over the years have proven to be indispensable in shaping ABA’s work to create programs and initiatives that best meet the needs of indie booksellers.
ABA is pleased to be working again with our colleagues at the regional trade associations to present these meetings, and the first Spring Forum meeting will be Friday, March 16, in North Hollywood, California, with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. That meeting will be followed closely by meetings in San Francisco with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association on March 18 and with the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in Seattle on March 19. Here’s a link to all the Spring Forum dates and locations.
The other big industry event ahead of us is BookExpo, set for May 30 – June 1 at New York City’s Javits Center. The BookExpo team has been hard at work, with our input and help, on changes in the show programming and offerings designed to make it easier for you to meet and interact with key personnel from a wide range of exhibitors, discover new titles and non-book inventory, and to keep your costs as low as possible, given the Manhattan location.
We’ll be announcing the full BookExpo schedule for booksellers very soon, but among the programming will be the popular meetings with editors at their publishing houses, along with more publishers scheduling time in their booths when you can meet with editors; two rounds of publicist speed dating, as well as new, additional opportunities to meet publicists in exhibitors’ booths; the popular Silent Art Auction to Benefit ABFE and Every Child a Reader; special events for children’s booksellers; the Celebration of Bookselling Lunch; ABA’s Annual Membership Meeting and Town Hall; author signings in the ABA member lounge; and educational sessions focused on your store operations and bottom line. Watch BTW for full details to be announced very soon.
Registration for BookExpo is open, and, once again, there is a very affordable hotel option, this year at the New Yorker Hotel, located at 481 Eighth Avenue in New York City, between 34th and 35th Streets. Thanks to a significant financial commitment from Reed Exhibitions, ABA member booksellers can reserve rooms at the New Yorker at a rate of $200 per night, including all taxes and fees (a $33 per night added value). To access Hotel ABA reservation information, booksellers will need a BookWeb username and password (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for login details). The deadline to get this rate is May 14, or when the block sells out, whichever comes first.
So, there’s a lot going on over the next three months! And I very much hope that over the weeks ahead we have a chance to meet and talk, at either one of the Spring Forum meetings or at BookExpo. And, if that’s not the case, please do e-mail me with any questions, concerns, or thoughts.
Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association