Like many other organizations and businesses, while ABA is increasingly using remote communications for many of our meetings and interactions with members, there sometimes is no substitute for a face-to-face hello and an in-person conversation.
I think about that as ABA begins its 21st Spring Forum travel season. We are pleased to be working again with our colleagues at the regional trade associations to present these meetings, which began last Tuesday in Atlanta for the SIBA meeting and continued this past weekend in California with SCIBA and NCIBA. During March and April, my colleagues and I will be traveling to towns and cities in every region for another nine forums to meet with member stores. At these meetings, we’ll be presenting a new educational session — on the important business potential of pre-orders and ABACUS — and hosting an open forum, where booksellers will have the chance both to ask questions and to share their ideas, feedback, and any concerns related to ABA, the book industry, and other issues.
I can tell you firsthand that the hundreds of forums we’ve conducted over the years have been one of the association’s most direct and constructive channels for member communication and input. We have left every forum with important notes, ideas, or insights. It’s at these events that ABA has the chance to strengthen our ties with established member stores — and, as importantly, where we can say hello to new stores and hear firsthand about their businesses and plans. We work hard on the educational sessions we present at these meetings, and that programming is always stronger because of the participation of the attending booksellers. And we know, too, that the opportunity you have to network with your colleagues is a key benefit.
ABA does understand that each year’s forum schedule entails travel for bookstores in some parts of the country, but, with that in mind, we have done our best over the years to move the meetings to different cities so that the meetings are as accessible as possible to the largest number of members.
So, do you get the sense that I’m really encouraging you to attend? (And if you are an indie bookstore that is not yet an ABA member, we are offering a free trial membership, available at the Spring Forums.)
The participation of member bookstores at the spring forums continues to make ABA a more responsive and effective organization. I very much hope you will be able to join us as we visit your part of the country over the coming weeks. Here’s a link to all the Spring Forum meetings.
The other big event that I hope you will seriously consider adding to your calendar is BookExpo, set for May 29–31 at the Javits Center in New York City.
Our colleagues at BookExpo have been working hard to create an event that will provide you with numerous opportunities to discover new titles and non-book inventory, meet with publishers large and small, and share ideas and experiences with fellow booksellers. Working with BookExpo, ABA has created a range of programming that we hope will help you connect with publicists, editors, authors, and — importantly — fellow booksellers. It’s at BookExpo that ABA holds one of our two yearly Town Hall meetings and our Annual Meeting. ABA will again be hosting our Member Lounge, where you can relax, refresh, and meet with friends and business partners, and the lounge will again be hosting special post-author breakfast signings and featuring access to galleys. My colleagues and I will be in the lounge as much as we can, and I hope we’ll have a chance to meet you there.
And following BookExpo, in June, ABA will be in Pittsburgh for the seventh annual Children’s Institute. The institute, which is open to booksellers at all ABA member stores, will be held June 26–28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh–Green Tree in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be the strongest kids’ institute schedule ever, and, at this writing, a few spots remain open. I hope we see you there. Watch BTW for full details over the coming weeks.
So, there’s a lot going on over the upcoming months! And I very much hope that in the weeks ahead we have a chance to meet and talk, at either one of the Spring Forum meetings, BookExpo, or the Children’s Institute. And, if that’s not the case, please do e-mail me with any questions, concerns, or thoughts.
Finally, on a personal note, last week ABA announced my decision to retire at the end of the year. As I said in the announcement, this was not a decision I took lightly, for I have cherished every day of the 30 years that I have worked for ABA. There are some significant things still to accomplish, and with your input and support I will be working as hard as I can to ensure that ABA does all it can on behalf of indie bookstores. One of the greatest rewards of my professional career with ABA has been the many, many friendships I have gained in the bookselling community. To be sure, I will still be around for the remainder of the year and fully expect to see as many of you as possible in the coming weeks and months!
CEO, American Booksellers Association