Given the decline in ABA membership—now at 2,800 stores—the ABA recently laid off its two-person membership department. "This was simply a more efficient way to operate a trade association. We haven't had a membership director for five or six years," ABA's chief operating officer, Oren Teicher, told PW. "Increasingly in not-for-profits, the trend is to fold membership into marketing. The jobs became irrelevant because recruiting efforts are all done through marketing." The two people who were let go handled administrative duties, which will be distributed among other ABA staff members.
Under the five-year plan that ends this year, ABA had placed an increased emphasis on its marketing department and on developing marketing programs for its members. "That's where Book Sense came from," said Teicher. "We've been conducting focus groups at all the regionals, and Book Sense is still a high priority." The effect of ABA's plan is starting to be felt in the market place. "The good news is that last year is the first time that market share had not decreased, and that happened in a time of a lot fewer stores," Teicher noted.