From Publishers Weekly:
Winter Institute, which American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher has called “some of the most significant few days in our calendar,” drew 1,000 attendees to Memphis the week of January 22, including more than 680 booksellers from all 50 states.
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“For more than five years now, our channel has seen sustained growth—the result of your clear focus on ongoing professional development, tireless work, and continued entrepreneurial innovation,” Teicher told booksellers. He acknowledged that some stores continue to face challenges, particularly as retail dollars continue to shift online. But he assured booksellers, “Our advocacy on your behalf regarding a level playing field will continue as a major priority for 2018.”
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In addition to working for a playing field on which physical and online stores are treated equally, other bookseller priorities emerged over the course of the conference’s four days—among them the need for diversity in the book business. As Hannah Oliver Depp of Word Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., a member of the ABA Task Force on Diversity, noted, “We’ve made a lot of progress, and we have a lot further to go.”
Keynoter Junot Díaz also pushed booksellers to do more for diverse books. In a powerful address, which he titled “In the Time of the Wolf and Fox I Dream of Books” (the “wolf” being conservative whites and the “fox” liberals), he elicited many tears and a standing ovation. Díaz criticized the book industry for being a business in which predominantly white gatekeepers publish predominantly white authors. It’s imperative, he said, for booksellers and librarians, who are on the front lines, to “stop talking about diversity and start decolonizing our shelves.” On behalf of the next generation, he called for “new stories where every single one of us can find ourselves.”
Amazon’s growing dominance in many aspects of our lives, not just books, was also a significant concern. For Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak and Garrett in Farmington, Maine, one of the most threatening aspects of that dominance is the erosion of list price. “One thing I hear is, ‘What are you charging for this book?’ ” he said. “We’re in a competing narrative with Amazon. There’s a narrative we need to share. The antitrust laws are just paper, or whatever, without the will to do something about it.”
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Booksellers should be able to pay their staff a living wage and not have to work long hours or take a second job to do so, she said. “I know publishers that make good profits,” she added. “It would be nice if they could give us an extra percentage.”
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly