A Report on the ABA Board’s January 2017 Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on January 25–26, 2017, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, just prior to the 12th Winter Institute.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Participated in a discussion led by ABA President Betsy Burton about the effectiveness of a number of ABA programs for members and highlighted areas in which they thought services for, and communication with, members could be improved. 
  • Heard a report from ABA President Betsy Burton of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, on her activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • Working with Board colleagues on the upcoming ABA Board election process.
    • Her communications with the presidents of the regional booksellers associations.
    • Her work regarding nominations to the Booksellers Advisory Council.
    • Traveling to the Frankfurt Book Fair with ABA CEO Oren Teicher and participating in a number of meetings at that trade event.
    • Her letters to the membership that appeared in Bookselling This Week.
  • Heard a report from CEO Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting, in September 2016, including:

    • ABA’s participation in the regional trade shows, including meetings with each of the regional association’s boards.
    • A new financial workshop for booksellers, which was presented by ABA Vice President Robert Sindelar and ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel in conjunction with two regional trade shows.
    • Conducting, with ABA colleagues, site visits for future Winter Institutes.
    • Attending with ABA President Burton the Frankfurt Book Fair, where they both met with a number of publishing executives and other industry colleagues, as well as participated in meetings with the European and International Booksellers Federation.
    • Attending the Miami Book Fair International (MBFI) and moderating a MBFI panel, “Indies First: The Central Role of the Indie Bookstore in Lit Culture.”
    • Releasing a statement for ABA following the November elections on the important, and unique, role bookstores can play in their communities as places “to foster communication and to help reconcile our communities.”
    • Meeting, together with other ABA senior staff, with the executive directors of the regional trade associations for the associations’ annual meeting.
    • Leading ABA’s participation in the Advocates for Independent Business (AIB) Summit, in Washington, D.C.
    • Meeting, together with ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen, with senior staff in the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to discuss a number of issues, including the dangers of market dominance and the importance of enforcing U.S. antitrust laws.
    • Organizing and leading a meeting of 16 book industry trade associations to discuss matters of mutual interest, focusing on how they might better serve their respective members.
    • Delivering the opening keynote address at the Association of American Publishers’ annual Young to Publishing Group conference, in New York City.
    • Conducting annual staff reviews.
    • Working with ABA Chief Financial Officer Robyn DesHotel on both the association’s financial and tech audits.
    • Spending a few days selling books at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, just before the holidays, for his annual December bookstore visit.
    • In January, participating in Digital Book World as part of the panel “Will Bars Save Bookstores? New Strategies From the Front Lines of Retail.”
    • Responding on a weekly basis to a number of media inquiries and requests for interviews.
    • Representing ABA at the grand opening of Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine. 
  • Received a financial report from CFO DesHotel on the results for ABA’s operations and investment portfolio. 
  • Met with William Jones Investment Management representatives Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and (via conference call) John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, who both presented a report on the association’s investment holdings.
  • Received and approved a report from ABA’s auditors, Marks Paneth, on the association’s 2016 Audited Financial Statement, for the year ending September 30, 2016. The Audited Consolidated Financial Statement provided an unqualified (“clean”) opinion of the association’s finances. (The final audited report and Form 990 will be available to members on BookWeb.org prior to ABA’s Annual Membership Meeting, to be held on June 1 at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center during BookExpo 2017.)
  • Received an update from Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger and Senior Strategy Officer Cullen on ABA’s work leading up to Winter Institute 12. 
  • Received the report of the 2016–2017 Nominating Committee, chaired by ABA Board member Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco. The Board approved the committee’s recommendation of the following three candidates to stand for election to three-year terms (2017–2020) as directors on the ABA Board:

  • Received an update from Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger on Indies First, Indies Introduce, the Indie Next List, and the second annual Backlist Book Swap for Winter Institute attendees.
  • Received an update from Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger on the upcoming Children’s Institute, set for April 5–7 in Portland, Oregon.
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including the ongoing development of IndieLite, a lower-cost option with a less robust feature set than IndieCommerce.
  • Had a working lunch with American Booksellers for Free Expression Director Chris Finan, which covered, among other topics, ABFE’s new Open Discussion Project.