Joel Becker, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association for eight years, is retiring at the end of the year. The decision was announced at the ABA's annual general meeting yesterday during the association's annual conference and trade exhibition, in Canberra.
"After more than 46 years in the book community as a bookseller, editor, cultural project manager, events curator and administrator, forgive the pun, I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life," Becker said in a statement.
"Joel Becker has served the ABA exceptionally well for the past eight years providing stability, support and leadership to Australian booksellers during a time of great industry change," said ABA president Tim White, owner of Books for Cooks, Melbourne.
During his tenure, Becker strengthened the ABA's ties to other national groups and internationally (he's been a regular attendee of the Winter Institute in the U.S.); lobbied on behalf of booksellers concerning tax collection on books bought from abroad, postal matters, and the entry of Amazon into Australia. Among many other things he helped develop and expand public campaigns like Love Your Bookshop Day.
"Books and the cultural activity that surrounds them are in my blood, so I'll be attending a few more festivals and may even do a bit of writing myself," Becker added. "I'll finally find the time to read that increasingly epic pile of unread books sitting on my bedside table and packed into book cases. I will also be hacking around golf courses and visiting a few places on my bucket list with my family and friends will take up some of my time. At the same time, I'd like to do some volunteering--perhaps on a couple of cultural boards. Clearly my retirement is going to be very busy."
He also thanked the ABA management committees, "led at various stages by Fiona Stager, Jon Page, Patricia Genat and Tim White, and an extraordinary, wonderful ensemble of colleagues at the ABA, who, while making it very difficult to make this decision, have paradoxically made it easier, knowing that they will lead the ABA from strength to strength."
We at Shelf Awareness will miss Joel, who is a good friend and raconteur. He always has been eager to learn about trends in U.S. bookselling and share news about Australian bookselling as well as to adapt ideas and programs from U.S. booksellers and the American Booksellers Association.
Incidentally, Joel is originally from Michigan and worked at Borders when it was an Ann Arbor indie. In Australia, among other positions, he owned Becker's Books in Cairns and was director of the Victorian Writers' Centre.