Board of Directors Elections

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The ABA Board of Directors Election Process

The American Booksellers Association is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, which serves to inform the ABA CEO, who then informs the ABA staff, of the needs of the membership.

The Board of Directors consists of 11 Directors, one President, and one Vice President/ Secretary. (As voted by the membership in 2020, of the 13 bookseller members of the Board of Directors, a minimum of four must be BIPOC, of which a minimum of two must be Black.)

Each July, the Board of Directors President selects a five-member Nominating Committee of booksellers, as approved by the board, who will review the submitted nominees and make their recommendation to the board. The board traditionally endorses the selection of candidates for the board as put forth by the Nominating Committee, and the nominees’ names are then put forth to the membership for a vote.

At the start of September, the Nominating Committee begins accepting nominations for booksellers to join the Board of Directors. The number of positions open is determined by the number of board members completing their second three-year term (each board member is entitled to serve two three-year terms). The President and Vice President/Secretary serve two-year terms and are selected in odd-numbered years.

Nominations (including self-nominations) for qualified candidates are collected through the end of October via an online form that takes just minutes to fill out. Those who meet the eligibility criteria receive a link to fill out an extended background information form and provide references.

See the ABA Nomination and Election Guidelines to learn more about who is eligible to join the board. The only requirements are:

1) Candidates for the Board of Directors must be the owner or employee of an independent bookstore with a storefront location* that is operated according to sound business principles. (*Semi-permanent pop-ups are included under storefront locations.) 

2) Board candidates must have at least three years of recent experience as an owner or employee of a member company.

3) Candidates for President and Vice President must be members of the Board of Directors; a candidate for President must be in their second term, unless there are no board members who fill that requirement, and the Vice President should have served at least two years on their term of service. If no directors meet these requirements, a candidate must have served on the Board for at least one year immediately prior to the date of assuming office.

The Nominating Committee deliberates through the fall. An announcement of the slate of booksellers up for election to the Board comes at the end of January. In addition to this nomination process, qualified booksellers may petition the ABA bookstore membership to join the ballot by collecting the signatures of at least two percent of ABA bookstore members (43 signatures) and mailing them to the Nominating Committee along with a completed nomination form. The petition must contain original signatures of a member store owner, as well as the store name, address, and telephone number, of bookstore members in at least five states, with representatives of no one state constituting more than 50 percent of the total number of petition signatures. Any bookseller member is invited to petition to join the ballot; petitions are due at the end of February.

Ballots are distributed at the end of March and returned by the end of April. The elected booksellers are announced in Bookselling This Week the day after the ballot deadline. The new Board members take office at the Town Hall and Annual Meeting at the end of May.

See complete details about the election process in the ABA Governance Policy Manual on BookWeb.


2020-2021 Board of Directors Election

For the 2020-2021 Board of Directors election, the two appointed Black booksellers (to be announced in September) will be up for election to serve their first full three-year term. There will be one Board vacancy due to Board Director Pete Mulvihill finishing his second three-year term. If the current vice president, Bradley Graham, is selected as Board president, the Board will also have to appoint a bookseller to fill the remainder of his term.

The timeline is as follows:

  • September 2: Nomination process begins
  • October 30: Nominations due
  • January 27: Candidates announced and petition process begins
  • February 27: Petitions due
  • March 26: Ballots open
  • April 27: Ballots due
  • April 28: New Directors announced
  • May 27: Virtual Annual Meeting and Town Hall

Important details to note:

  • Nominating takes only a few minutes; permission is not required of the nominee, and a simple, brief webform is used to make the nomination
  • Booksellers are welcome to self-nominate
  • As voted by the membership in 2020, of the 13 bookseller members of the Board of Directors, a minimum of four must be BIPOC, of which a minimum of two must be Black
  • The Board of Directors meets at least four times per year (two days in conjunction with BookExpo; two days in conjunction with Winter Institute; and three to four days at summer and fall meetings, usually July and October; in addition to monthly Zoom calls that last 90 minutes to two hours)
  • Directors do not receive compensation for their services, but are reimbursed for authorized expenses
  • Board members may also serve on various committees and task forces
  • The Nominating Committee evaluates candidates’ skills, awareness of industry issues, experience with ABA and regional associations, new skills the candidate could bring to the board, how a candidate may strengthen the representativeness and diversity of the board (whether in terms of region, age, gender, race, or another attribute), as well as the bookseller’s passion for books and bookselling


Regional Bookseller Association Board of Directors Elections

California Independent Booksellers Alliance (CALIBA)

CALIBA is led by a 15-person board of directors that includes four officers and three associate representatives from the publishing community as well as one representative from the California Children’s Booksellers Alliance (CCBA). Roles include president, incoming president, secretary, and treasurer.

Timing: The annual Board of Directors election begins in mid-March, with terms beginning April 1.

Terms: Currently, CALIBA asks for three-year terms with no more than three consecutive terms without shifting position. All board members are on three-year cycles starting with their first election date.

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA)

MPIBA is led by a nine-member board that includes a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.

Timing: MPIBA requests nominations in the spring and summer. When the board chooses a new member, that member is approved by the voting members in the fall, then begins their term on January 1.

Terms: Board members serve three-year terms, up to two consecutive terms. The roles of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer are two-year terms.

How to get on the board: To become a director, people are nominated by a director and elected at a meeting of members for the election of directors or by written ballot. Directors hold office for a term of three years and serve until the election and qualification of a successor, or until such director’s death, resignation, or removal. Directors can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.

Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA)

The GLIBA board consists of at least nine but no more than 13 directors serving staggered terms of from one to three two-year terms set such that about one third of the seats expire each year. Officer roles include president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, as well as past president.

Timing: The nominating committee is chosen by the Board of Directors at least 90 days prior to the annual meeting, which is held during the annual trade show or in October. The nominating committee makes recommendations for all vacancies to the board of directors and assists the president in filling vacancies on all committees.

Terms: GLIBA board positions are served in two two-year terms. If a board member is a member of the executive committee during their second term, they may serve a third two-year term for a total of six years.

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)

SIBA is led by a five-member board that includes one president.

Timing: The call for nominations for the SIBA board is issued immediately after the first meeting of the year, in the spring. The election takes place between the second and third board meetings of the year. The president is elected at the last board meeting of the year by a majority of the board of directors, with the term being for the following calendar year.

Terms: Board members may serve two three-year terms. Board members may not serve for more than six consecutive years.

How to get on the board: Candidates are nominated, and member bookstores vote in an election. The slate of candidates is posted in the SIBA newsletter and on its website; continued outreach is done during the election period to encourage voting.

New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA)

NEIBA is led by a seven-member board. The board includes a president, vice president, and treasurer.

Timing: The president appoints a nominating committee on or before March 1 of each year. On or before August 1, a ballot listing the proposed candidates will be distributed to the membership.

Terms: No board member may serve more than four consecutive years except, for reasons of continuity, each outgoing president, who will serve an additional year after their term as president is over.

How to get on the board: Member nominations are solicitated every year; from there, the process is handled by a nomination committee.

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA)

The NAIBA board is led by no fewer than seven and no more than eleven directors, including the immediate past president of the association. Available roles include president, vice president, and secretary and treasurer (combined).

Timing: A nominating committee posts a call for nominations each spring; the board approves the slate from the nominating committee and it is presented to the membership for a vote in the summer. The new board takes office at the annual meeting, in conjunction with NAIBA’s fall conference.

Terms: Directors may serve no more than two elected consecutive three-year terms. These terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the directors will end their terms each year. All terms begin at the close of the annual meeting. These terms may be in addition to terms as executive officers.

How to get on the board: NAIBA will soon adopt an open nomination process.

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA)

PNBA is led by a nine-member board that includes the roles of president, vice president, secretary/treasurer, and past president.

Timing: PNBA starts soliciting board and committee members in November via its newsletter. Committee recommendations can be made directly by a candidate or by a manager or colleague. Board interest can also come that way but candidates are more likely to emerge from someone working in one of the standing committees, Education and Book Awards, or a nomination from a sitting board member through their relationships with the members. Reps can also be excellent resources as they see or communicate with a lot of booksellers from a wide swath of stores. 

Terms: Each position requests a two-year commitment, which may be followed by a second, consecutive two-year re-election.

Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA)

MIBA is governed by a nine-person board of directors, which consists of seven bookseller directors and two non-bookseller directors. The officer positions are president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.

Timing: In August/September, the nominating committee begins accepting nominations for booksellers to join the board.

Terms: Each board member is entitled to serve two three-year terms.

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.








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