Hello from the road!
We are in the midst of our annual Spring Forum season, when ABA meets with many of you in towns and cities from coast to coast to catch up in open forum meetings and to present new educational sessions.
As you read this, we are about halfway through this year’s forum schedule. If you attended one of the forums held so far this spring, again, many thanks! And if your store is in one of the regions yet to have a forum, I do hope you will be able to attend.
This year, we are especially excited about our education session, which focuses on the important topic of New Localism. For those of you who were able to attend this year’s Winter Institute in Denver, you know that the subject of how the localism movement is evolving and what these changes mean in terms of our ongoing work in outreach, advocacy, and public policy was a major topic of discussion.
At Wi11, ABA released a major new study from Civic Economics on what the dominant — and growing — position Amazon holds in the retail landscape is costing Main Streets, towns, cities, and states. In addition, there were three very informative and insightful sessions related to the study, which you can watch online in case you missed them.
In response to the very positive feedback to the Civic Economics study and the initial New Localism programming that we received from the ABA Board, the Booksellers Advisory Council, and Wi11 attendees, we have accelerated our New Localism program development with both the recent introduction of ABA’s New Localism Toolkit and the education program that we are currently presenting at the Spring Forums. The digital resources in the toolkit are designed to help you educate your staff, customers, elected officials, and the media about the latest relevant data regarding the localism movement, and to help you become strong advocates in support of public policy that promotes diverse and vibrant communities.
Among the items in the toolkit are:
- FAQs and talking points
- DIY materials aimed at customers
- Materials to share on social media
- Sample letters to elected officials
- Links to other relevant information and media coverage
- Links to ABA’s new Antitrust Action Kit
Also recently launched is a consumer landing page, IndieBound.org/spotlightamazon, which provides additional resources for customers looking for more information about Amazon’s growth and impact on communities.
If possible, I hope you will join us at an upcoming Spring Forum meeting to learn more about the toolkit, and to share your ideas and feedback, so that we can continue to develop new tools and resources. In addition, your comments and feedback about the materials in the New Localism Toolkit can be e-mailed to ABA Membership and Marketing Officer Meg Smith; advocacy-related questions should be directed to ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan.
There’s one element of the toolkit that I would especially emphasize, and that is the Antitrust Action Kit. In the kit are links to template letters — customized by state — that can be adapted and sent to your governor, state attorney general, state representatives, and members of Congress in Washington, D.C. The data in the Civic Economics study gives us new and persuasive information about the troubling consolidation of market share and economic clout on the part of Amazon, which poses threats, we believe, to not only our communities but also our country’s literary and cultural diversity.
Booksellers sometimes underestimate the sway they hold with elected officials, but in my experience your clout with public officials is significant. I hope you will take the time to reach out to them to help our bookselling community begin to take important strides in the New Localism fight.
Looking ahead, we will continue to make the New Localism initiative a key ABA priority. We are very excited that Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will be the featured speaker at ABA’s opening plenary session, “The New Localism,” on Wednesday, May 11, at BookExpo America 2016. Mitchell is co-director of the institute and oversees its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise. Anyone who heard Stacy at Wi11, or who has seen her TEDx Talk, will know that this is not something to miss.
Here’s a link to more about this year’s BEA in Chicago, including information about how ABA members who have not attended the trade show in the last two years can apply to win one of 60 BEA scholarships of $435 each to help defray their hotel and travel costs.
There’s one other thing I’d like to remind you about. This year’s ABC Children’s Institute is looking to be the best ever, with six keynote and plenary talks, 10 brand-new education sessions, 30-plus authors, rep picks speed dating, and more. Ci4 will be held from Tuesday evening, June 21, through 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International in Orlando, Florida.
Importantly, booksellers from ABA member stores that did not have a Children’s Institute scholarship winner in 2014 or 2015 — whether or not they have already registered for Ci4 — can apply by March 31 for a publisher-sponsored scholarship to this year’s event. Scholarships will cover the $89 conference fee, the cost of airfare or ground transportation up to $400, and two hotel nights plus tax.
Here’s more information about the entire event. I strongly encourage you to review it, and I hope we will see you in Orlando for what I know will be a very productive and fun event.
Again, many thanks to all of you who have joined us at the Spring Forum meetings so far this year, and, if we are heading to your region, I hope we will see you very soon.
CEO, American Booksellers Association