At yesterday afternoon’s ABA Town Hall Forum, BEA event director Steve Rosato announced upcoming changes to the show, including the fact that it will be on a single level next year when the construction is complete. “We’re here through 2015,” he said. “It’s very realistic that we’ll move in 2016.” The days that the show is held will also shift. It will move to Thursday through Saturday by 2014 to accommodate consumers, who will be at the show this year for the first time. Advance consumer registration for Thursday is currently at 500 and has been capped at 1,000. As with ComicCon, Rosato said that Reed will invite retailers to sell at BEA in coming years.
Rosato also noted that BEA has turned a corner with the number of exhibitors. Similarly, at the annual meeting ABA had good news about meeting challenges of its own. “I believe,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher, “that we can say with certainty that the trend of indie bookstore decline has been reversed.” Indies continue to show double-digit increases in book sales tracked by Nielsen BookScan. “We have seen a 13.4% increase in unit sales,” he added.
While ABA market share continues to be “modest,” ABA v-p Steve Bercu, owner of BookPeople in Austin, Tex., bolstered Teicher’s statement with membership statistics showing that the number of bookstores and locations have grown. Over the past year the number of companies has increased from 1,512 to 1,567 as of May 15; the number of locations has also grown, from 1,823 to 1,900.
Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association stood up from the floor and confirmed the turnaround that he’s seen in his territory. “In the city of San Francisco,” said Landon, “in 2012, there are 35 independent bookstores and zero chain stores. You can talk about modest market share, but not in San Francisco.”
Without minimizing the challenges that booksellers face daily, Teicher remained optimistic. “No channel can compete with ours for discovering, championing, and launching notable writers and showcasing outstanding fiction and nonfiction.” ABA is continuing to test new models for strengthening the bookselling business. As ABA president Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Ill., noted earlier at the Town Hall, "the whole point is how we can move the needle. It's kind of a wait-and-see game right now." Ones that didn't work have already been discontinued. Ot the roughly dozen models currently being tested, some that show promise will be tested until the end of the year.
In his report, Teicher said that the ABA will find a replacement for Google e-books well before the January deadline and will be in place in time for the holidays. "This is the ABA's number one immediate goal," he noted. "While we understand that the lion's share of your sales are still in print books--and will remain so--we also know that your ability to sell e-books to your customers is an essential component of your store's offerings." Earlier Anderson said that a new agreement could come as early as July.
At both meetings Anderson and Teicher stressed the importance of following up with letters to the Department of Justice regarding the agency model. Booksellers applauded when Teicher noted that Penguin and Macmillan are fighting for the model. "The time to stand up to one company's bullying is now," he said.
Teicher also discussed the ABA's newly launched Why Indies Matter program. In it ABA is going beyond last year’s ad hoc bookseller “we’re still here” campaign to show the value that independent booksellers bring to their communities. He concluded by saying that despite the challenges and difficulties: "I remain confident and convinced that the best days of indie bookselling are yet to come."
Click here to download the complete text of Teicher's remarks as a PDF.