A Report on the ABA Board’s July 2016 Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on July 18-20, 2016, in Mystic, Connecticut.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting, in May, including:

    • Working with ABA colleagues at the recently concluded ABC Children’s Institute in Orlando, Florida, including the association’s work with member bookstores to rapidly respond to the tragic events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando;
    • Working with staff on formulating ABA’s Ends Policy compliance reports for presentation to the Board;
    • Planning with staff for the association’s participation in the fall regional trade shows and on programming for Winter Institute 12;
    • Focusing on member outreach and retention;
    • Working with Nielsen to increase the number of ABA member bookstores reporting their weekly sales to BookScan for the Indie Bestseller list. It is the BookScan data compiled for the list that has helped highlight the vitality of the indie bookstore channel. At the meeting, CEO Teicher reported that so far this year sales for independents were up 4.5 percent over 2015;
    • Working with staff to encourage member bookstore participation in ABACUS-15. He reported that more than 200 bookstores had participated in this year’s survey;
    • As part of an ongoing effort to improve ABA’s marketing efforts, hiring a social media consultant;
    • Ongoing work with staff on the Indie Next List “Years of Discovery” Campaign, which includes a refresh of the Indie Next List flier, bookseller incentives, customer contests, and plans for a celebratory INL author session at Winter Institute 12, in Minneapolis;
    • Conducting several interviews with both national and local media, which resulted in continued coverage on the strength of independent bookselling;
    • Continuing work with staff on the recently relaunched ABA Book Buyer’s Handbook, including outreach to publishers and other vendors, encouraging them to ensure that their information in the handbook is timely and accurate. (Here’s more on the Book Buyer’s Handbook in the most recent CEO letter to members.);
    • Meeting in Washington, D.C., with Small Business Majority (SBM), a national small business advocacy organization, to discuss how ABA might work more effectively with SBM on issues of importance to independent bookstores;
    • Continuing ABA’s work with Authors United and The Authors Guild in regard to advocacy efforts with elected officials about the business practices of Amazon.com, and noting that the election platform of the Democratic Party included a commitment to tackle antitrust violations, a sign of the success of ongoing advocacy efforts;
    • Meeting, together with colleagues, with Lance Fensterman, senior global vice president of ReedPOP, and Brien McDonald, event director for BookCon and BookExpo, to discuss BookExpo America and Reed’s plans regarding BookCon;
    • Working on some of the final details regarding ABA’s participation in the upcoming National Book Festival, where ABA will work in conjunction with the event’s bookseller, Politics & Prose.
  • 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:

    • Her ongoing bimonthly President’s Letter in Bookselling This Week;
    • Her recent guest column in Publishers Weekly;
    • Outreach to authors, agents, and reps regarding the importance of publishers’ backlist, and the unique role independent booksellers play in promoting and selling backlist titles;
    • Her ongoing work with the Utah Retail Merchants Association, most recently focusing on the issue of e-fairness;
    • Her outreach to and communications with the presidents of the regional trade associations.
  • Met with ReedPop/BEA’s Senior Global Vice President Fensterman to discuss how BEA might better meet the needs of independent bookseller attendees.
  • Heard a report from Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger on the successful ABC Children’s Institute, which recently concluded in Orlando, Florida.
  • Heard a report from Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen and Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger on ABA’s ongoing program development for Winter Institute 12. The event will open with a reception on Friday, January 27, followed by three days of education and programming, from Saturday, January 28, through Monday, January 30, 2017.
  • Reviewed ABA’s Ends Policies and the 2016 compliance reports from staff in regards to those policies. (The compliance reports detail ABA’s work to fulfill the Ends Policies.) After discussion, the Board approved changes to clarify the articulation of part of Ends Policy A, “Members will have the necessary business skills to professionally operate profitable independent bookstores,” amending a part of that policy to read, “Members will be aware of and have access to new, and alternative, business models, systems, technologies, and services.” In addition, the Board approved amendments to expand Ends Policy E to specifically include all forms of growth in the indie channel. The new language now reads: “Professional and prospective independent booksellers who plan to open new stores, purchase existing stores, or expand existing stores will be provided with programs that facilitate participation in the complex world of bookselling.”
  • With Board approval, ABA President Burton made the following appointments to the ABA Nominating Committee:

  • Met with senior executives of the Ingram Content Group to discuss the integration of Perseus’ client services business within Ingram and other matters of mutual interest regarding the independent bookstore channel. Attending from Ingram were Shawn Everson, chief commercial officer; Elise Cannon, vice president, field sales; Jeanne Emanuel, vice president, sales-shared services; and Ron Smithson, director of field sales.
  • Heard a report from ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel, who reviewed the association’s finances.
  • Met with William Jones Investment Management representatives Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, to receive a report on the association’s investment portfolio.
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including an update regarding ongoing enhancements to IndieCommerce.
  • Heard an update from CEO Teicher on ABA’s ongoing work with the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland (BA) and others in the industry regarding the possible replication in the U.S. of the BA’s Batch program for booksellers. In use in England for 15 years, Batch is a centralized online invoice payment and data system.