Representatives of English-Language Booksellers Associations Talk Bookselling and Wi6

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Lincoln Gould of the Booksellers New Zealand; Tim Godfray of Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland; Oren Teicher of ABA; Lee Trentadue of the Canadian Booksellers Association; and Joel Becker of the Australian Booksellers Association

To continue to foster conversation between U.S. and international booksellers, representatives of the English-language booksellers associations – the Australian Booksellers Association, the Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland, Booksellers New Zealand, and the Canadian Booksellers Association –  were in Arlington, Virginia, last month to participate in a meeting hosted by the American Booksellers Association and to attend Winter Institute 6.

Their goal was to discuss changes and challenges within the industry, including the growth of e-books, as well as the value of conferences like the Winter Institute.

This week, BTW talks with Lee Trentadue, vice president of the Canadian Booksellers Association, about building “new friendships and co-operative liaisons.”

Why do you think an exchange of ideas among international booksellers, such as occurred at the Winter Institute, is important?

I believe these meetings were extremely important for booksellers from these countries. As booksellers, we are living in very dynamic times. With all the changes happening in the world of e-book selling and digital publishing, we especially need to know how booksellers from other countries are handling these changes.

The American Booksellers Association has been an innovator in developing ways to make sure their independent booksellers continue to be an important part of these changes. It has assisted its members by helping them set up IndieCommerce sites and has also set up a mechanism through which they can sell e-books through Google.

The International Associations of Booksellers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland, and booksellers from Norway were all there to see how we can do the same for our booksellers and our communities. These meetings were important in many ways: first, for forging new friendships and co-operative liaisons with ABA and discussing ways we can ensure our moving forward with new bookselling technologies; and, second, for getting a sense about how these new ways of selling are working with the American booksellers. I feel that both of these goals were accomplished at the meetings.

What are some of the challenges facing independent booksellers in your country and how they responding? Are e-books affecting the industry as much as they are in the U.S.?

From my point of view, Canadian booksellers are currently at a great disadvantage.

Our most obvious difference lies in the number of booksellers actually operating. We are a much smaller country, and we are very spread out geographically. Many booksellers are not selling online yet, and this is becoming an increasingly important place to be. I have a subjective feeling that we are slightly behind the U.S. in terms of how quickly e-book selling is increasing, but I think this is changing rapidly. There are also booksellers who do understand that the industry is changing, and they are doing everything they can to get up-to-date. They have a distinct disadvantage in that they are small in numbers and currently do not have the backing of a national association as strong as ABA.

The Canadian Booksellers Association is working on many of these same issues but does not have the money or the size of membership, so it may take a little longer to get there.

Are there events similar to the Winter Institute in Canada?

Our Canadian association hosts a similar meeting in the summer for our members covering many of the same topics, and, frankly, modeling their meeting on the very successful Wi6. In addition, we have regional fairs where many discussions and educational sessions occur. I am chairing one such educational meeting in February, just before our British Columbia Regional Bookfair.

What stood out most for you at Winter Institute 6?

The highlight for me was to discuss mutual issues and possible solutions regarding bookselling with the very impressive representatives from other countries... I was very appreciative of the generosity of the American Booksellers Association in sharing their expertise and offering to assist our associations in bringing our booksellers up to speed in this rapidly changing industry.

I was impressed with the opportunities for the booksellers to meet with their congressional representatives and senators in face-to-face meetings to discuss the relevant issues in their communities...

I learned so many things that I can take back to our association and booksellers about the everyday work of bookselling.

And finally, I have made new friends with booksellers' representatives from the countries that attended which will allow me to keep in touch with any new developments in these countries that our booksellers might take advantage of.