A Letter From ABA CEO Oren Teicher

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ABA CEO Oren TeicherDear Booksellers:

It’s back-to-school time for America, and for indie booksellers, it’s the start to what has always felt like the very beginning of the holiday season: the fall regional trade shows

All eight of the fall regional trade shows offer unique opportunities, and once again, ABA will be at all of them. I very much hope that my colleagues and I will see you at your show in the weeks ahead. ABA depends on your ongoing input, questions, ideas, and feedback, and the conversations we have in the booth at your trade show are an unparalleled opportunity to hear directly from members regarding the issues you and your stores are facing. 

This year, our education session will focus on Independent Bookstore Day (IBD). As I hope you read last month in BTW, given the growing success of IBD, ABA has agreed to take over the management of this key national event, and current IBD Program Director Samantha Schoech will remain in her position and work closely with ABA on planning and promotion.

April 25, 2020, will be the sixth year for IBD, and the education session at the fall shows will offer an overview of the event and tips from booksellers who have successfully included this national celebration of indie bookstores in their store’s events programming. This past April’s celebration of IBD featured 575 participating stores, many of which reported increased sales and foot traffic, plus a strengthening of their community ties. The new educational session will show you how your store can build on that success and help you and your customers celebrate what makes indie booksellers remarkable and unique. 

In addition, those of you going to your region’s fall show can make an appointment with a member of the IndieCommerce team for a one-on-one meeting to discuss whatever might be helpful to you. Here’s more information about how to set up an appointment. (And, in addition to these one-on-one meetings, IndieCommerce staff will host roundtable sessions at the SIBA and NAIBA shows.)

You’re also invited to join staff from ABA’s membership department for the educational session “Making the Most of ABA Membership,” during which new members, booksellers at newly opened stores, and anyone else interested can hear about the programs and resources the association provides to strengthen independent booksellers’ businesses.

Of course, one of the things we’ll want to discuss at the fall shows is the upcoming Winter Institute, set for January 21–24, 2020, in Baltimore, Maryland. This will be the 15th anniversary of the Winter Institute — and the 120th anniversary year of ABA! We are excited about the event programing, and, again, many thanks to all of you who offered ideas and input in different ways over the past several months. 

A new feature at the institute will be a day-pass option for programming scheduled for Friday, January 24. This day-pass registration will also include participation in the Wi15 Thursday evening Author Reception. Also for the first time, the institute will include a new feature we are calling “Publishers by Appointment.” This program will allow attending booksellers to schedule individual meetings with participating publishers on Tuesday, January 21. Many booksellers, and publishers, have said that they would value the opportunity to meet in a slightly more structured fashion at Winter Institute, and we are trying this new format to meet those requests. As with everything at the institute, we will ask for your feedback and evaluate it after the event. 

Given the growth of the institute, this year we are changing how we inform you of the event’s program and schedule as well as how we sequence registration for Wi15 and hotel accommodations. 

Please, please, please mark your calendars with a red pen or set an alert on your phone for the following very important Winter Institute dates: 

  • September 11: On this date, the full Winter Institute program will be announced on BookWeb.org.
  • September 18: On this date, Winter Institute registration will open for all attendees.
  • October 1: On this date, the ABA hotel room block at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor will open for accommodation. 
  • October 29: And on this date, registration will open for special programming at Winter Institute. 

Here’s a link to the BTW story on Wi15, which provides more details on the schedule and programing. We hope that this new, sequenced process for Winter Institute information and registration will eliminate a lot of the frenzy and stress that we know surrounds the kick-off of the institute registration process. 

Also, ABA will once again be awarding a number of scholarships to Wi15, and booksellers who are attending the fall regional trade shows can drop a business card at the ABA booth for a chance to win a scholarship.

In addition, any attendee (booksellers, publishers, authors, or guests) interested in having childcare during Winter Institute can fill out a survey here to indicate their needs. 

And, at the risk of overstatement, if you are considering attending Wi15, please mark those important dates in your calendar! If you have any questions related to registration or the Winter Institute, e-mail info@bookweb.org.

I know that the days of the fall shows are packed, but I do hope that you will take the time to stop by the ABA booth so that we can say hello and catch up. For me personally, this year’s round of fall shows will be particularly bittersweet, as my retirement by the end of 2019 approaches. While ABA is planning a more formal farewell at next year’s Winter Institute in Baltimore, the fall shows will be a final opportunity to see many of you while wearing my ABA hat, and I’m looking forward to our time together.

Hope to see you soon.

Sincerely,
Oren J. Teicher
CEO, American Booksellers Association

P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to check out ABA’s free speech podcast, Counterspeak, today’s episode features me talking about my First Amendment endeavors and my life in the book business.