On Stepping Down as ABA President

It is with mixed emotions that I step down as President of the Australian Booksellers Association. Being given the opportunity to represent booksellers during a time of huge change has been a challenge I have relished and a responsibility I have never taken lightly. It has also given me a greater understanding how the industry works, between other booksellers, between publishers and between authors. This at times has been constructive and other times incredibly frustrating.

I am a passionate bookseller and am passionate about the future of bookshops and to have the chance to defend, promote and argue the case for bookshops to government, media, publishers, authors and readers has never been a struggle. I have stepped on toes, upset some people but have never stopped championing the interests of bookshops and booksellers. But doing so at the same time as running a business and balancing time with my young family has been hard to say the least. Especially a business that is contracting thanks to the retail downturn.

Stepping down as President though doesn’t mean walking away from the ABA. I will still be part of the management committee as Immediate Past President and still be looking at digital issues affecting booksellers. There is also the Book Industry Collaborative Council which will hand down its report at the end of June.

I would like to thank all the members of the ABA for their support over the last three years. In particular I’d like to thank Fiona Stager who will step down from the ABA management committee after 12 years of dedicated service to the ABA including three as President and three as Immediate Past President. Fiona has tirelessly volunteered her time, energy and passion to the ABA and all its members. Fiona will be literally irreplaceable on the board. She is a bookseller and person I greatly admire and have drawn much inspiration from. Organizations like the ABA are only as good as the members they represent and Fiona Stager has been an outstanding representative of booksellers and the ABA. If I’ve done half as good a job as she has done I will be very happy.

I’d also like to thank Patricia Genat (incoming ABA President), Duncan Johnson, Peter Strong, David Gaunt and Mark Rubbo for their personal support. I’d like to thank former ABA CEO Malcolm Neil for his, more often than not, sage advice. And I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of current CEO Joel Becker. It has been a pleasure to work with Joel and we’re not done yet!

Lastly I’d like to thank my parents Chris and Phil and the staff at Pages & Pages who have taken up the slack when I’ve been away or on calls or in meetings. I couldn’t have done the role without their help.

And the biggest thank you goes to my very understanding wife.

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