This is an expanded version of the 2022 renewals letter sent on January 13.
2021 went by so fast! As it sped by, we hope you found value in ABA’s resources and support. The ABA team accomplished so much last year in service to bookstores and booksellers. As you consider your membership value we want to highlight a few of the benefits we offered in 2021:
- Education. In 2021 ABA offered over 100 education sessions through virtual webinars, tech and marketing meetups, and conferences!
- Advocacy. ABA’s advocacy team lobbied for the interests of our members: pushing for a federal e-commerce assistance program to help independent retailers improve their e-commerce presence; lobbying to increase competition and control rates related to debit card interchange fees; and ensuring the availability and conditions for PPP money took into account the needs of small businesses.
- Antitrust. In 2021 we lobbied for new antitrust legislation and built coalitions to assist us with our efforts. You’ll see our next steps in this effort in 2022 as we seize the opportunity of bipartisan support in the fight against Amazon.
- Freedom of Expression. ABFE continued to provide stores faced with local school and library book banning challenges with resources and assistance, and partnered to produce/promote Banned Books Week.
- Marketing. This was our second year offering turnkey marketing assets to stores: the “October is the new December” campaign, the refreshed #BoxedOut campaign, new seasonal assets for fall and Valentine’s Day, as well as the usual for you to share with your customers — the Indie Next List and Kids’ Indie Next List subscriptions, Reading Group Guide, and the ABC Best Books for Young Readers catalog.
- E-commerce. The 560 stores that use ABA’s platform for e-commerce experienced tremendous support and dozens of enhancements to the platform in 2021. What you didn’t see was the behind-the-scenes work on the exciting $3M investment in the future of the platform currently underway.
- Partners. ABA offered members several benefits last year through our partners. These included: discounts with Eventbrite and Crowdcast, rebates with Constant Contact ($10K in reimbursements to members!), discounted shipping through PartnerShip, and relationships with Bookshop — over 1,395 ABA stores participated in the Bookshop pool and over 1,300 participated in the partnership program. ABA stores earned $8.2M from Bookshop sales in 2021! ABA also facilitated the administration of James Patterson's generous gift of $250K in holiday bonuses for ABA member store booksellers.
- ABACUS Financial Benchmarking Tool. Thank you to those who participated in the ABACUS survey last year. Hopefully, the results you received a few weeks ago will help you monitor and improve your financials, negotiate with outside vendors including your landlord, and, for provisional members, provide valuable information to consider.
- Health Insurance. We’re glad that some of you were able to offer health insurance to your employees through ABA’s Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership (BIHIP) with LIG Solutions last year. (The law still prohibits ABA from offering a national membership health insurance plan, but we will continue to lobby for a bigger solution.)
- Publicity. ABA participated in dozens and dozens of interviews in 2021 to promote both independent bookstores and the issues of importance to you. We also experimented with new partnerships with Oprah’s Book Club and Good Morning America to promote the value of independent bookstores, create visibility for stores, and plant seeds to grow these relationships into something bigger in the future. In addition to these new initiatives, we maintained our planning of Independent Bookstore Day and Indies First alongside Small Business Saturday!
- Networking and Community. Thousands of booksellers and bookstore members came together last year to network, share best practices, and talk shop through ShopTalks, Meetups, Board office hours, ABA Town Hall, and gatherings at our virtual Winter and Children’s Institutes.
- Children’s Group. This year, the Children's program hosted the reading series Indies Present: Universe of Wishes. 378 customers attended, and the event raised $524 for WNDB. Children’s booksellers also participated in the new ABC Discord group for children’s booksellers and our first ABC Shop Talk. 537 booksellers attended the virtual Children’s Institute.
- Resources. Hundreds of you reached out for support around various issues or to get answers to your questions. We appreciated the opportunity to help you negotiate with your landlord, figure out how to value your store, learn how to write an op-ed, make a plan to buy your building, resolve issues with publishers, create an employee handbook, respond to human resources questions, and more.
- Equity & Representation. ABA expanded programming to better support all of our members and to rise to our commitment to equity, representation, antiracism, and access, took responsibility for some big mistakes we made, and took a long, hard look internally to see where we could do better. This year we added LGBTQIA2S+ and Neurodiversity community affinity groups and an LGBTQIA2S+ forum with ABA staff; launched the Advance Access for underrepresented voices; prioritized conscious language for Bookselling this Week; began screening boxed mailing titles for hate speech; expanded ABA’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Council to ensure more representation; updated the ABA code of conduct to address microaggressions; added closed captioning to our virtual events; made changes to programming to ensure a diverse majority of authors; instituted a land acknowledgment for conferences that includes a regular donation to the American Indian College Fund; continued to waive fees for new BIPOC members; and created a member dashboard to improve accessibility for all booksellers and bookstore owners to increase access to ABA’s offerings and collect (optional) demographic information to inform our programming and support of members.
- Books. Boxed Mailings. NetGalley. Advance Access. Indies Introduce. All the ways ABA helps connect books and booksellers.
- Independent Initiatives. Indies First with Roxane Gay. Independent Bookstore Day. IndieBound to help customers discover their local independent bookstore.
This is just a small selection of all that we did in 2021! For 2022, ABA is poised to support you like we did last year and in new ways that not only help you prepare for your organizational future, but also help shape our collective future.
We appreciate your being part of our community. It is our honor to support you and the community work you do and we hope you give us the opportunity to continue our support this year with the renewal of your ABA membership.
Our quick renewal process only takes a few minutes; some of your information may even be pre-populated. So log on now to renew using your Bookweb.org username: USER. If no username appears here then you need an account! You can create an account here.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. The membership team at [email protected] is always happy to help you however they can.