|Oren Teicher (l.) and Tim Godfray (photo: BA)|
During the concluding "Face to Face" event at this year's Booksellers Association conference in Birmingham, England, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher and BA Group executive chair Tim Godfray, who are both retiring this year, reflected on their combined 77 years experience in the trade and expressed optimism for the future, the Bookseller reported.
Teicher said: "In your 47 years and my 30, despite all these changes that we've seen, despite all the challenges--it would be disingenuous not to understand the challenges that Amazon puts not just before the books sector but the retail economies overall--I am optimistic, and I'm optimistic for one most important reason, what I see here and what's been true in the States over the last six or seven years is that there's absolutely been a torch passed to a younger generation. There was a long period at ABA when I would look out at a room of people and we were all of the same age, we were all a group of aging baby boomers, that’s not true anymore. That has 180 degrees flipped.
"There's a whole lot of younger people in our business as obviously there are here, that gives me an enormous sense of optimism for the future. I think the torch has been passed. I don't minimize the challenges that that next generation of booksellers are going to have, but what I have observed, is there is a resilience about people in this business that is pretty extraordinary. People who own and operate bookshops are unique. I am optimistic, I'm sure whoever is sitting on this stage 30 years from now will also talk about the continued resilience of booksellers. I don't think we are going anywhere."
Reflecting on the state of British bookselling, Godfray observed: "Consumers are coming back to printed books, publishers appear to be making more beautiful, physical books, the media are supporting bookshops and consumers are much more aware of what their communities would be like without bookshops. I am optimistic. Leaving the BA at a time when you read in the trade press stories that independent bookshops are bucking the trend in our country that is going through a pretty gloomy period and having all this positive messaging and vibrancy and optimism coming out of the bookselling community in the U.K. and in Ireland is wonderful."