A Letter From ABA President Steve Bercu

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Dear Fellow Booksellers:

2014 was quite a year! As far as I can tell, it was a very positive season for many of us. Many stores had record sales during the holidays. I read about best single days in store history, best holiday seasons, and best years for many stores. (BookPeople had its best single day again and its fifth consecutive best year.) This great season kicked off with Indies First on Small Business Saturday and just kept going. After our many years of hard work, customers are realizing the importance of shopping at locally owned stores. Of course, the widespread media coverage touting local bookstores and other local businesses as the places to be didn’t hurt.

Based on the approximately 500 stores reporting to the Indie Bestsellers List, unit sales maintained their growth, and reports from the ABA Board and the Booksellers Advisory Council showed December sales up about nine percent and annual sales up, too. It is this sort of news that makes us know that print is here for the very long term and that we are an integral part of getting print to people.

Be certain to take the time to fill out the short survey about your holiday sales that arrived on Wednesday, January 7, in an e-mail from ABA’s CEO, Oren Teicher. [If you can’t find the e-mail, please let ABA’s member relationship managers know and they’ll send it along.] Each year, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance compiles this survey of independent businesses, and it has proven to be an invaluable tool in our continuing conversations about the value of local business to our communities.

On February 8, the Opening Reception for Winter Institute 10 will begin at 6:00 p.m. This year’s institute is filled to capacity, and it’s going to be the biggest and best one we have had so far. I look forward to seeing many of you in Asheville and, as usual, to learning a lot while we are there. But Wi10 is also a celebration of everything indie and of the continued resurgence of us, the independent booksellers. We are flourishing and only getting stronger as we move into 2015.

Among the notable features of Wi10 will be the Indie Retail Crawl. Asheville is a showcase of indie business so it should be good. We will also have a Town Hall meeting at Winter Institute for the first time, set for Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. It will be a great opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and express concerns, so don’t miss it. And once again the Consultation Station will provide a perfect opportunity to sit down and talk with a wide range of affiliated business solution partners, POS vendors, and others (including the organizers of Independent Bookstore Day and representatives from the American Booksellers for Free Expression.)

Before I end, I want to urge all of you to contact your POS providers if they will not be at the Consultation Station and press them to come up with a solution for integrating their system with chip and pin credit card processing. It will be universal after October 2015, so there is really not much time since we will all have to purchase hardware to make this happen. Be certain that they provide you with a solution that allows you to maintain your current credit card processor.

Many of our members have been trying to show support for our colleagues in France. ABA is trying to help us have copies of Charlie Hebdo available (that will be tough), but meanwhile, ABA is urging booksellers to join in a social media initiative aimed at channeling and amplifying support. You can also learn how to make a donation in support of Charlie Hebdo and the victims’ families here.

Now, it is almost time to start packing for Wi10.

I hope you had a wonderful season! See you in Asheville.

Je suis Charlie!

Steve Bercu
President, American Booksellers Association
Austin, Texas