Interview with the American Booksellers Association
NetGalley is a proud supporter of independent bookstores, and we’re honored to have the American Booksellers Association (ABA) as our official Bookseller Sponsor of the 2016 NetGalley Challenge.
Today we’re highlighting the important work of the ABA, which was founded in 1900 as a national not-for-profit trade organization that works to help independently owned bookstores grow and succeed. As a special treat Oren Teicher, ABA CEO, sat down with us to chat about the ABA and how our members can get involved.
The ABA has so many great programs to help bookstores stay competitive and to reinforce the value of shopping indie. One in particular is the American Booksellers for Free Expression – can you give our members a brief description, and how they can get involved?
American Booksellers for Free Expression, a project of the American Booksellers Association, is the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship. It defends the First Amendment rights of booksellers and their customers in local communities, state legislatures, Congress, and the courts. We invite everyone to sign up for our free newsletter, Free Speech Report. We also encourage them to support Banned Books Week, the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Thousands of bookstores and libraries participate every year during the fourth week of September. This year’s celebration is Sept. 25-Oct. 1.
I’m sure most of our members have heard of IndieBound (or have spotted it in their local indie), the local first-focused marketing program developed by the ABA. Can you describe the different components of IndieBound and how it benefits bookstores and patrons?
IndieBound is a collaborative program among the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association that focuses on the unique attributes of indie stores and the power of “local first” shopping. Independent bookstores have a special place in their communities, a third place — not home, not work — where readers and book buyers can discover their next great read, share great experiences with authors, and establish deeper connections with other passionate readers and their own community. In the monthly Indie Next List and the weekly Indie Bestseller lists, readers can find insightful, curated lists of great titles and newly discovered authors, and authors show their dedication to indies nationwide by linking to their favorite bookstore or to thousands of indie bookstores through IndieBound.org. And consumers can know, too, that by shopping indie their dollars are staying in their communities, which means more money for sound schools, strong first responders, green parks and ball fields — all the things that make for happy and healthy communities.
Through our partnership, booksellers who sign up for NetGalley can nominate titles to be considered for the Indie Next List—and we see a lot of activity generated from our members! Can you tell us the history of the Indie Next List and how it has evolved?
As readers know, one of the most interesting sections of an indie bookstore is the Staff Picks section, and the Indie Next List is, in effect, a monthly national staff picks of upcoming fiction and nonfiction. Each month, hundreds of independent booksellers nationwide send ABA nominations for the titles that they are most looking forward to hand-selling to their customers. These passionate recommendations drive the selection of 20 fiction and nonfiction titles that make up the Indie Next List, with the title getting the most nominations becoming that month’s number-one selection. Customers in bookstores coast to coast pick up the Indie Next List flier and peruse the titles online at IndieBound.org, as well as see the books in stores’ in-store displays. The list is a diverse mix of subject matter, taste, and genre — and is a showcase for both favorite authors and new voices. There is no shortage of great writing right now, and the Indie Next List helps readers discover the best of the best.
Another exciting connection point between NetGalley and the ABA was the creation of the Digital White Box program, to help introduce indie booksellers to more new books from a wide variety of publishers and genres. How can ABA member stores ensure they’re taking advantage of this free member benefit?
Yes, ABA offers digital galleys (for print books) via the Digital White Box with NetGalley. Booksellers on NetGalley can simply click here to tell us you’d like to receive this monthly email, and they should include the email addresses of everyone in your store. (Access to each book is linked by email address, so it’s important to sign up all staff members individually.) ABA member stores can also just make sure your ABA member number is added to their NetGalley Profile, and they will receive the Digital White Box automatically.
The Digital White Box provides a curated, exclusive selection of books for indie bookstores, and the titles are immediately available to your colleagues in the store. Booksellers tell us that the email often helps them identify unexpected successes, in a wide variety of genres, from a diverse set of publishers.
As an important support system in the bookselling community, the ABA helps organize and host a number of events and promotions throughout the year for booksellers and patrons alike. We’re excited by the newest ABA initiative, the New Localism – can you give us some insight into how this program was developed and what results you’ve seen so far?
For many years now, we have seen the growth of localism — from farmers’ markets to the increasing awareness of the importance of locally owned Main Street business for vibrant and diverse communities with real job creation. The localism movement has become a major influence in the decisions of consumers regarding where they will make their purchases and spend their dollars. Nationally, literally millions of consumers are deciding to shop in a locally owned business because it is locally owned. But as an increasingly large percentage of consumer purchases are made online, ABA has led the way in examining what the dollars-and-cents effects are on our local communities. A study commissioned by ABA found that what’s good for Amazon is not good for the overwhelming number of communities in the U.S. The study revealed that Amazon’s total nationwide sales tax gap in 2014 is an estimated $625 million, and the displacement of retail from local communities to the Internet exacts a large (and growing) cost of approximately $420 million in property taxes annually. This results in a total of more than $1 billion in revenue lost to state and local governments in just one year, a huge shortfall in the monies needed to support schools, libraries, first responders, and other key services. For the year 2014 alone Amazon sales produced a net national loss of 135,973 retail jobs, with only eight states showing a net gain in jobs. And those numbers take into account all the jobs currently in Amazon distribution centers. In the end, where we spend does shape where we live.
When you shop at a locally owned independent business, your entire community benefits:
- Spend $100 at a local and $52 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
- Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
- More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.
- Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
- Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.
- Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
- Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
- More independents mean more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.
Now is the time to stand up and join your fellow individuals in the IndieBound mission supporting local businesses and celebrating independents.