A Report on the July 2020 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met via Zoom from July 21 - 24, 2020, in three-hour daily calls.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA President Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books on her activities on behalf of the association. She noted that her primary focus had been working with fellow Board members and ABA CEO Allison Hill and COO Joy Dallanegra-Sanger on the important issue of racial equity and representation. This included her work regarding the recently approved ABA bylaws changes, which increased the Board from 11 to 13 members, and that require the board to include at least four booksellers who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), at least two of whom are Black. Related to this, she noted her work regarding the creation of a new ABA nominating committee, whose makeup the Board unanimously approved.

The new Nominating Committee is comprised of:

  • ABA Board member Jenny Cohen, chair, Waucoma Bookstore (OR) 
  • ABA Board member Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company (WA)
  • Kathy Burnette, Brain Lair Books (IN)
  • Hannah Oliver Depp, Loyalty Bookstore (DC & MD)
  • Michael Herrmann, Gibsons Bookshop (NH)
  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Allison Hill on the association’s activities since the last full Board meeting, in May, including:
  • Work that focused on antiracism and diversity (including an antiracism training session for ABA staff; a productive meeting of ABA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; the formation of an ABA staff committee focused on equity and access; a virtual meetup for BIPOC members; and the creation of a Black Lives Matter and a Diversity resource page on BookWeb.org);
  • Working with ABA Board and colleagues to conduct the association’s first virtual Annual Meeting and Town Hall on Zoom, with 347-plus in attendance and more than 400 industry partners viewing on YouTube. For the first time both meetings were recorded and posted to BookWeb.org.
  • The successful execution of the recent virtual Children’s Institute;
  • The creation of a virtual ABC summer catalog;
  • Together with ABA COO Dallanegra-Sanger meeting with publishers and wholesalers regarding issues important to bookstores during the pandemic;
  • Her work with colleagues to anticipate and address potential obstacles to a successful 4th quarter for bookstores, which included discussions with publishers and Ingram. She also noted her discussions with a number of ad agencies regarding a 4th quarter marketing campaign for the indies.
  • Working with Batch to help facilitate the system’s integration with bookkeeping and POS systems;
  • Working with a cross-departmental group of ABA staff to develop content and new delivery formats for educational programming in the virtual world.
  • Continued its reviews and discussion of the association’s Ends Policies, determining that a more inclusive discussion would be appropriate after the two new BIPOC Board members had been appointed.
  • Were given an update on ABA’s financials from ABA CFO PK Sindwani, who noted that, despite cuts in association expenses, significant losses due to the pandemic were expected to result in a net loss projected to be $1.15 million, compared to a budgeted loss of $586,000.
  • Received a report on the performance of ABA’s portfolio from William Jones Investment Management’s Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, via Zoom conference call. In addition, Mr. MacCowatt and Mr. Cummins discussed the current economic climate and briefed the Board on key economic trends heading into the fourth quarter and the presidential election. The Board also discussed the issue of a socially conscious investment strategy for the association’s investments, and, as part of that process, the Board will be providing more detailed feedback and guidance to William James regarding any possible changes in the overall investment guidelines.
  • Reviewed detailed reports regarding ABA IndieCommerce and received a report from Ms. Hill on IndieCommerce, IndieLite, and IndieBound.org.
  • Reviewed reports and heard updates from Ms. Hill and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger, on the recently concluded virtual Children’s Institute, a first for the association. It was the largest gathering of booksellers in the history of Children’s Institute; 404 booksellers registered to attend.