A Letter From ABA President Steve Bercu

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Dear Fellow Booksellers,

A relatively cool Texas summer has begun. Folks here are out for walks in the 95 degree weather and, as far as I can tell, almost all of them are thinking about the problem Hachette is having with an online retailer (it’s probably the heat). I recommend that you think about it, too.

Lots of us have come up with displays (like this) in support of Hachette titles, and lots of us have written letters to the editor or have had conversations with the media about the ramifications of this conflict. I challenge you all to keep this issue on the front burner and to make your customers aware of the root causes of it all in the first place. It is a real opportunity to show how different we are from the near-monopoly that looms over our industry.

I would also like to remind you to submit your data to the ABACUS Survey (in fact, do it as soon as you read this). The information you submit helps to build a critical mass that forms the many useful slices of information that ABA can produce and return to us. This information will help you make your bookstore more profitable. Of course, the more of us who submit data the better the information will be. I hope you don’t need much more inducement to participate.

In late June, ABA Board Member Jonathon Welch, Harvard Book Store’s Jeff Meyersohn, and I attended the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses in New Orleans. There were several interesting sessions and a panel that the three of us were on to discuss the role of independent bookstores in the university press world and how we can work together in a mutually beneficial way. We discussed some of the university press–indie bookstore relationships that are working now and also some of the things that are not working for us. We offered to continue this conversation at Winter Institute 10, in Asheville, and will be inviting a panel of university press representatives to talk to us. All of this seemed positive and a great step towards a much better working relationship in the future.

On another front, please don’t forget to promote your Indies Introduce picks (another great way to distinguish ourselves). When you put up displays, make videos, or do whatever else it is that you think up, please send a link to ABA so we can let everyone know how you are making this happen in your store. Promotional materials are available on BookWeb, including a video of 11 of the summer/fall program’s authors reading short excerpts from their debuts in the ABA lounge at BookExpo America.

I hope you had a happy Fourth and that you were part of some sort of celebration of independents in your community.

Steve Bercu
President, American Booksellers Association
Austin, Texas