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Good Times for ABA
John Mutter and Kevin Howell -- 6/12/00

The ABA has much to celebrate.
Members at the ABA's town meeting and annual meeting at BEA were full of cheer, congratulating the board, executives and themselves for a year well done. Among the major achievements: the establishment of Book Sense; the ongoing lawsuit against Barnes & Noble and Borders; the fight to have sales taxes collected by B&N.com and Borders.com; and the blocking of B&N's acquisition of Ingram.The only negative news: bookstore membership declined 6%, to 3,166.

Following the departure of Jerry Jacobs from Jenner & Block, the association has signed on Arent, Fox, Washington, D.C., as general counsel, although Jenner & Block continues to represent the ABA in the B&N/Borders suit. Jenner & Block's David DeBruin said the discovery period will end by the beginning of August. While he couldn't com- ment on the information the firm has garnered so far, he said, "We will prove" the case. He added that the defendants are fighting "strongly.... The stakes are high. I think we'll go to the end."

DeBruin called the new judge in the case, William H. Orrick, "wonderful," noting that he is versed on the issues and runs a tight courtroom. The trial is scheduled to begin April 9, 2001.

During BEA, Richard Howorth of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., stepped down as president. The new president is Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. Other officers and board members elected this year: Ann Christopherson, Women & Children First, Chicago, the new vice-president and secretary; Mitch Kaplan, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.; Suzy Staubach, UConn Co-op, Storrs, Conn.; and Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, Calif.

The Celebration of Bookselling ceremony Friday evening following the annual meeting featured a lengthy speech by Barbara Kingsolver, who praised independent bookstore owners, noting that their handselling of her first book, Bean Trees, was instrumental in selling out the 4,000-copy initial run and brought about second and third printings.

The first winner of the Book Sense Book of the Year Award, formerly called the ABBY, for adult trade titles, was Kingsolver, whose acceptance speech was a brief, "Thank you!" The Book Sense Book of the Year Award for children was given to author Jeff Brumbeau and illustrator Gail de Marcken for The Quiltmaker's Gift (Pfeiffer-Hamilton).

Also at the Celebration, Avin Domnitz presented former ABA president and free speech advocate Joyce Meskis of the Tattered Cover in Denver with the ABA's first Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her support and work on behalf of independent booksellers and bookselling.

The ABA celebrated its 100th anniversary at the event with a cake and singing of "Happy Birthday."
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