A Letter to Members From ABA President Steve Bercu

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Dear Fellow Booksellers:

The upcoming fall season always gets me enthusiastic. This one especially so, because I think we will all enjoy a strong list of titles that will yield great sales. In addition, sales at member stores are keeping pace with the very strong gains of last year. I fully expect my store, BookPeople, to finish 2013 with its fourth consecutive best year in our history, and, while not all bookstores are experiencing the same level of gain, I know that all of you are working hard to become more profitable. Member stores are opening new locations and are being sold to new booksellers in record numbers across the country. All of this is a good sign that we are here, we are healthy and will thrive into the future.

In the coming weeks, representatives from ABA will be attending the eight regional shows across the country, where they and the Small Business Majority will be presenting an informative session on the Affordable Care Act that will bring you up to date on the ramifications for you and your staff. Also be sure to stop by and say hello at the ABA booth on the show floor. I will be at the NEIBA show in Providence; if you’ll be there, please be sure to introduce yourself!

My favorite industry news in August was the debate in Quebec on legislation that would regulate prices for a set period in order to fight below-cost pricing and loss-leader marketing. They want to do it for all the right reasons (to protect the future of Canada’s top cultural industry [booksellers]). I hope it passes and spreads across Canada and then to us. We could finally compete on the value we add to our customers’ experiences instead of having price be considered a pivotal issue.

Many of you may have need of resources to talk to customers and the media about some aspect or another of Amazon’s recent behavior regarding sales tax fairness, below-cost discounting, or tax incentives from local governments. Last month, Oren [Teicher, ABA CEO] wrote a letter to members that laid out a lot of those resources and I want to give you that link here in case you haven’t kept it handy. As Amazon continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth in appealing the New York sales tax law to the U.S. Supreme Court, it becomes even more important to counter when we can.

Even as the fall is upon us, it is time to think about the winter and winter, of course, makes us all think about Winter Institute 2014. Registration has just opened. I recommend that you secure your place ASAP and before it sells out. It would be hard to overestimate how much we all get from this event, so please do not miss this chance to mix with your peers and learn something that will improve your bottom line.

Now, let’s get back on the floor and sell some books!

Steve Bercu
President, American Booksellers Association