Oren Teicher, who has led the American Booksellers Association since 2009, has announced that he will retire as CEO of the organization at the end of 2019.
In an announcement via the ABA’s Bookselling This Week, Teicher said, “This was not a decision I reached lightly, as I have cherished every single day over the last 30 years that I have worked at ABA. But the time has come, and I firmly believe it's the right decision for me, and for ABA.”
Teicher succeeded Avin Mark Domnitz and under his leadership, the organization's members emerged from a period of duress following the 2008 financial crisis to a major resurgence of independent bookstores today. The organization grew from 1,401 members with 1,651 stores in 2009, to 1,835 companies with 2,470 stores in 2018.
Robert Sindelar, the ABA board president and managing partner of Third Place Books, credited Teicher with helping to transform the retail landscape for indie booksellers. “His tireless efforts working on behalf of our member stores have helped make significant changes to the independent bookstore business model, and the growth and success so many of our stores are experiencing are due to his vision and leadership. It’s hard to imagine the current indie bookstore landscape without Oren being a key part of it," Sindelar said.
Teicher started as the ABA’s associate executive director in 1990 and served at different times as the organization’s director of government affairs, chief operating officer, and founding president of the ABA’s Foundation for Free Expression.
As CEO, Teicher expanded the ABA’s role in nearly every aspect of its advocacy and educational efforts, including the growth of the annual Winter Institute, enhancing ties with publishers, and organizing political advocacy to oppose the tactics of corporate online bookselling competitors like Amazon. At the same time, the organization confronted some of the most important social issues of the day. It was during Teicher’s time as CEO that, at the urging of booksellers, the organization created an ABA Board Task Force on Diversity.
To find a successor, the ABA board has created a search committee which will include Sindelar, ABA v-p Jamie Fiocco, booksellers Gayle Shanks and Len Vlahos, and board members Bradley Graham, Christine Onorati, and Annie Philbrick. The committee has retained Isaacson, Miller to conduct an initial search with an eye toward selecting from a diverse slate of candidates, and the committee will recommend a candidate by the end of September of this year.
“I think the board would be nervous if we were at a less healthy place in terms of the indie bookstore landscape, but the benefit is that for a lot of reasons—a lot of them having to do with Oren’s leadership—we’re in a really good place,” Sindelar said. “We’re not in crisis mode. It’s healthy time to transition leadership.”