New Atlantic ABA Booksellers Forum Covers Wide Range of Topics

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On April 9, there was an ABA Booksellers Forum held in conjunction with a day of educational panels organized and sponsored by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) in Philadelphia. Attending the forum from ABA was association CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, who was joined by ABA Board member John Bennett, co-owner of Bennett Books in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and ABA Bookseller Advisory Council member Beth Puffer of Bank Street Books in New York City.

Among the topics covered during the forum, which was attended by approximately 60 booksellers, was the proposed ABA Strategic Plan. As in other forums, booksellers in the region had received, in advance, a survey questionnaire listing the new plan’s six proposed goals, and they had been asked to rank them in order of importance. Booksellers shared their thoughts regarding the proposed goals, and Domnitz answered a number of questions regarding ABA programs and initiatives during the discussion.

The discussion of the new strategic plan, spurred additional inquiries, including questions about ABA’s current allocation of resources and the Association’s advocacy efforts on behalf of independent booksellers. Domnitz gave the NAIBA booksellers an overview of ABA’s allocation of resources in implementing the current strategic plan, and discussed staffing patterns in response to a question from Carla Cohen, NAIBA president, from Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

In response to another question, Domnitz detailed the steps ABA has taken together with other national organizations and some of the regional booksellers associations to lobby in Washington, D.C., and state capitols for fairness with regard to the collection of sales taxes over the Internet. In addition, he recognized that, if some booksellers hadn’t yet learned of these efforts, then ABA must increase its efforts to more effectively communicate with members. Also discussed was BTW online, with some booksellers underscoring their preference for a printed edition. Domnitz shared with them the current plans for a new, enhanced printing option of BTW online, which will be available in the upcoming weeks.

Board member Bennett told BTW that the issues raised at the NAIBA forum were similar to the questions raised at other regional forums "but asked very pointedly to get right to the heart of the matter." Fern Jaffe, owner of Paperbacks Plus in the Bronx, New York, said, "I was especially glad we had the opportunity to hear discussion together about the new ABA strategic plan."

NAIBA Executive Director Eileen Dengler said, "It is apparent that many booksellers are not aware or as informed about ABA’s activities and what they have accomplished, or understand the reasoning behind some changes in the association. We’ll work harder to get the word out." -- Dan Cullen