A Letter From ABA CEO Oren Teicher

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Dear Booksellers:

I want to start this letter by expressing my thanks and appreciation to all of you who joined us at one of the 10 ABA Spring Forum meetings these past weeks.

Beginning in mid-March in North Hollywood, California, and ending five weeks later in Evergreen, Colorado, we had the chance to meet with hundreds of you in all parts of the country. This is the 20th year ABA has hosted Spring Forums, in conjunction with the regional associations, and, once again, they were a focused and productive opportunity to listen to your feedback, answer your questions, and, importantly, get your ideas and suggestions regarding ABA education and programming. It was an incredibly valuable series of meetings for ABA.

The PowerPoint presentation from the Spring Forum educational session — “A Year of Bookstore Profitability” — has now been posted on BookWeb.org, and very soon we will post the session handout, which is now much expanded, including all the proven tips and best practices shared by booksellers at the forum.

Now that the Spring Forum travel season is done, I want to turn the tables a little bit and urge you to make some travel plans of your own to join your bookselling colleagues later this month in New York City at BookExpo.

Despite the growth of the Winter Institute and the Children’s Institute, BookExpo is still the largest gathering of the country’s independent booksellers. And it remains the national event where all the industry’s stakeholders can come together under one roof. Those two facts potentially make BookExpo a rich and productive time for indie bookstores. I say “potentially” because in the 21st century, trade shows face inherent challenges in a world of online catalogs and omnipresent electronic communications. We at ABA fully realize that you must take a hard look at whether the costs of attending BookExpo are worth the benefits.

Importantly, our colleagues at BookExpo understand that, too. In planning for this year’s show, they met with indie booksellers, publishers, distributors, and others and incorporated that feedback into reimagining this year’s event. The result, I believe, is a show that can offer you more of what BookExpo is uniquely suited to do, that is, provide opportunities to network, meet key publishing staff, learn about upcoming titles, and sharpen your professional skills. 

Understanding the bottom-line pressures that independent bookstores face, BookExpo made a significant financial commitment so that ABA member booksellers can reserve rooms at the 2018 Hotel ABA — The New Yorker, a Wyndham Hotel — at a rate of $200 per night, including all taxes and fees. (I do understand that $200 a night might not initially sound “low,” but that is a solid value for New York, in a very nice hotel.)

There’s a lot of programming at BookExpo, and I want especially to emphasize the opportunities at to expand your network of industry connections.

At BookExpo, ABA is again organizing Meet the Editor visits — where you can talk with editors in their New York City offices about the editing process — as well as Publicist Speed Dating sessions, which give you the opportunity to introduce your store and take steps to plan engaging author events to drive new traffic to stores and spur book sales.

And this year, both of these initiatives are expanding on the Javits Center trade show floor, with the addition of In-booth Editors’ Hours and Publicist Meet-Ups.

In addition to those valuable networking opportunities, ABA and BookExpo will offer a number of education sessions on topics such as hiring for diversity, e-commerce marketing, data-driven bookselling, and Edelweiss+ inventory management, as well as roundtables for booksellers to discuss point-of-sale systems. Other programming will feature booksellers showcasing the latest crop of Indies Introduce authors, the ABC/CBC Speed Dating Lunch with Children’s Authors, and the Silent Art Auction to benefit American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) and Every Child a Reader.

The ABA Lounge can again be your off-the-trade-show-floor office at Javits. It will feature author signings following the BookExpo adult and children’s author breakfasts, as well as a chance to meet with ABA staff, including the IndieCommerce team, and discover new titles at the lounge’s galley room.

And, importantly, there will be opportunities for us to come together as independent bookstores at the Annual Celebration of Bookselling Lunch, the Town Hall, and our Annual Membership Meeting.

There is a wealth of programming at this year’s BookExpo, and, if you haven’t yet registered to get your free ABA member badge, I hope my encouragement will convince you to read more about ABA and BookExpo programming and to get full information at the BookExpo website.

The very good news is that, nationally, the indie bookstore resurgence is continuing, as we see sales increases in the indie channel, new stores continuing to open, and established stores successfully finding new ownership. All of that can be showcased to the entire book industry at BookExpo. We at ABA are appreciative of what our colleagues at BookExpo have done to focus and innovate the trade show, and I very much hope that you will join us in New York City at the end of this month to be part of the vital and diverse network of indie bookselling.

And, looking ahead, ABA’s planning and work on the upcoming Children’s Institute continues. As I hope you’ve been reading in BTW, there will be more programming than ever at Ci6 for booksellers who want to connect more fully with the world of children’s bookselling and more effectively connect young readers with great writing. There will be sessions at Ci6 for both managers and frontline booksellers, a fantastic lineup of keynote speakers, and more authors than ever. The institute is scheduled for June 19–21 in New Orleans, and registration is still open. Here’s a link for more information, and I hope that you will seriously consider joining us for what I know will be a fun and fulfilling event.

And, as always, I hope you’ll never hesitate to contact me about anything ABA or industry related.

Sincerely,

Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association