Message for Robbie Egan, CEO.
The COVID 19 virus has ushered in a level of uncertainty that we have not experienced since the global financial crisis. This is also a very human emergency with real threat to the aged and infirm. A State of Emergency has been called in Victoria, and indoor gatherings in excess of 100 people have been banned across the nation. In light of these circumstances we have had to make the difficult decision to postpone the ABA’s National Conference, due to take place on June 21st and 22nd 2020. The APA's BookUp Conference, due to take place the following day, will also be postponed.
All the professional advice is that Australia needs to hit this virus hard and ‘flatten the curve’ to best manage the impact on our health system. Beyond the national ban on gatherings, our responsibility to each other informs a greater imperative than the fallout from postponing this event. As frustrating as this is, with all the work that has gone into putting such a great program together, we have made the unavoidable decision.
One of the great things about our industry is our convening together to celebrate all things books and bookselling, and we are working to hold an industry event as soon as is practical. A conference or get-together this year is desirable but predicting the outcome of COVID-19 is too difficult. We will keep you all as up-to-date and informed as possible, and as soon as we have clarity on the virus we will put a plan into action. We must hold an AGM by September 30 and will inform you of how that will proceed.
We are developing a social media campaign around this message and will push that out shortly, and will continue to promote books and bookshops as the perfect solution to the bizarre new world of social distancing and self-quarantining. Many of you have begun offering local home delivery of books – a wonderful way to let your community know you are there and that you care. We want to share those stories and do whatever we can to support you over the coming weeks and months and will call on publishers and authors to do the same.
In the end we are all in this together. At an industry level we need to work together just as we must work together as a nation. We must retain our humanity and reach inside for our better selves. This will be hard, but booksellers are a resilient bunch. We will get through this. We will endure. We will thrive.