Third Place Books' Robert Sindelar takes reins of national bookseller organization

Friday, June 30, 2017

Robert Sindelar, Manager
Third Place Books
This June, Third Place Book’s Robert Sindelar became one of the youngest presidents in the last thirty years of the American Booksellers Association.

Founded in 1900, the American Booksellers Association, or ABA, is the nonprofit trade organization that works to help independently owned bookstores in the United States grow and succeed.

Headquartered in White Plains, New York, the group is governed by a board of eleven volunteer booksellers.

ABA provides education, information, business products, and services; creates relevant programs; and engages in public policy and industry advocacy.

The Association actively supports and defends free speech and the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

Sindelar, 46, was previously serving as the organization’s vice president. He is the managing partner of Third Place Books, a bookstore with three locations in the Seattle area, including Lake Forest Park.

Originally from Miami, he got his start in bookselling while in college, when he took a job at the iconic Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida. He later moved to Seattle to pursue an acting and theater career, and began working at Elliott Bay Book Company.

He moved to Third Place Books when its owner, Ron Sher, purchased Elliott Bay in 1998 and offered him the position of manager (Sher no longer owns Elliott Bay which is now on Capitol Hill).

Sindelar assumes the presidency at ABA at a time when another Seattle-based company —Amazon—is expanding its presence in the world of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

“Independent bookselling is changing at a faster rate than I’ve ever seen,” says Sindelar. 
“Changes in threats from online competitors, in customer buying behavior, in relationships with our publishing partners, in minimum wage increases and escalating real estate costs.” 
But the industry’s core values remain consistent.

 “Twenty-five years ago booksellers were creating unique welcoming spaces in our communities, connecting authors and readers, curating distinguished reading selections for our customers, offering outstanding customer service and building community. That hasn’t changed.”
“This is definitely a moment where it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves who we are and why we are here, while constantly looking forward and anticipating the changes we may need to make to secure and ensure the longevity of independent bookselling. 
"To be in a position to continue to steer the ABA in the right direction is both humbling and invigorating.”


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