In an e-mail to member stores Tuesday afternoon, the American Booksellers Association announced steps the organization is taking to respond to the needs of independent bookstores and ABA staff amid growing concerns about the new coronavirus. Among the announcements, the ABA told members that its White Plains, N.Y.-based staff will not attend the eight regional association spring forums planned for the coming months. Instead, digital sessions will be available upon request.
ABA encouraged members to contact the organization with requests for assistance and advice. The organization has also updated its website to include resources and up-to-date information for booksellers. ABA’s weekly news digest, Bookselling this Week, will also have resources when published tomorrow.
In addition, ABA announced that its digital “Bookseller-to-Bookseller forums have a new thread for stores to share best practices, including how to stay healthy, how to handle related personnel issues, how to cut costs if sales are down, how to handle canceled events, and other topic members want to share.”
The announcement that the ABA is pulling staff from physical visits to spring forums has not deterred the New England Independent Booksellers Association from planning to hold its popular All About the Books gathering in early April. “I’m still cautiously optimistic that the Spring forum will be a go,” said NEIBA executive director Beth Ineson, who is hosting an owner’s retreat for members in New Castle, N.H. this week.
Among the discussion topics proposed by attendees at this week’s gathering are discussions about ways that owners intend to support bookselling employees if there are temporary store closures, as well as long-term planning for the potential economic damage from the coronavirus.
At present, ABA intends to continue with plans to host BookExpo in New York City at the end of May and Children’s Institute in Tucson, Ariz., in late June.
This article has been updated.