A Report on the May 2016 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on May 9–10, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois, just prior to the start of BookExpo America (BEA), to work on a range of issues. 

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 January, including:

    • Working with ABA colleagues to develop the New Localism Toolkit;
    • Conducting with ABA colleagues nine Spring Forum meetings, held in conjunction with the regional trade associations. At the meetings ABA presented a new educational session, “Indie Bookstores and the New Localism: What You Can Do,” and held an open discussion of industry issues. Over the course of the forums, ABA met with approximately 400 booksellers nationwide;
    • Ongoing planning with colleagues for the fourth annual standalone Children’s Institute, to be held in Orlando, Florida, from June 21–23;
    • Leading a post-event meeting in New York City of publisher sponsors of the Winter Institute;
    • Participating with ABA colleagues and member booksellers in an ABA Educational Task Force meeting held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in March;
    • Leading a site visit in March to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the site of the 2017 Winter Institute (Wi12). 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;
    • Together with ABA colleagues conducting meeting with booksellers and publishers from the Twin Cities region to help prepare for Wi12; 
    • Together with ABA colleagues working to prepare for the launch of the ABA’s Book Buyer’s Handbook on a new platform;
    • Joining ABA colleagues in conducting a meeting via conference call of the ABACUS Task Force in March; 
    • Participating with ABA colleagues and member booksellers in an ABA Digital Task Force meeting held in Chicago in April;
    • Attending the London Book Fair, where he had a number of productive talks with senior U.S. publishing executives; 
    • Continued ongoing work with Advocates for Independent Businesses as well as individual trade associations, including the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, the National Bike Dealers Association, and the North American Retail Hardware Association;
    • Working with ABA colleagues regarding planning the ABA Plenary talk at BEA by Stacy Mitchell on the topic of New Localism;
    • Communicating with Lisa Lucas, the new executive director of the National Book Foundation, regarding additional ways that ABA and the foundation might work together;
    • Accepting invitations to speak at the annual meetings of the Swedish Booksellers Association and the Association des libraires du Québec (the Quebec booksellers association), at the expense of the associations; 
    • Being interviewed by a number of different media outlets regarding the positive state of the independent bookstore channel;
    • Working with The Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland (BA) and others in the industry to explore the possibilities of replicating in the U.S. the BA’s Batch program for booksellers. In use in England for 15 years, Batch is a centralized online invoice payment and data system.
  • Heard a report from ABA President Betsy Burton, of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, on her activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • Her ongoing bimonthly President’s Letter in Bookselling This Week;
    • Attending the meeting of the Booksellers Advisory Council after Wi12;
    • Communicating with the presidents of the regional booksellers associations;
    • Attending the recent publisher visits, together with ABA Vice President Robert Sindelar, CEO Teicher, and Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, the association’s senior program officer.
  • Approved President Burton’s appointments to the association’s Governance Review Committee. The booksellers who will be serving on the committee are:

  • Welcomed newly elected Board directors Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri, and Chris Morrow of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, and Saratoga Springs, New York, and re-elected Board members Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut, and Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, Rhode Island; and Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, with two locations in the Seattle, Washington, area and a third scheduled to open soon. 
  • 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 discuss the association’s investment policy and to review the performance of the association’s investment portfolio. 
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including an update on the recent Digital Task Force meeting, the IndieBound test, and ongoing enhancements to IndieCommerce. After discussion, the Board determined to continue the central selling site test to garner additional data necessary for a more full analysis. (The IndieBound test was launched in October 2015 as a way to increase traffic to member stores and their e-commerce sites. The test allows consumers to purchase books directly through IndieBound.org in an effort to improve their online shopping experience for an initial purchase, and then directs customers to several independent bookstores in their area for future purchases.)
  • Heard a report on a recent series of publisher visits that Ms. Burton, ABA Vice President Sindelar, Mr. Teicher, and Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger had conducted to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • Received a report on ABA’s financials from Robyn DesHotel, ABA Chief Financial Officer. 
  • Heard a report from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the new Indie Next List “Years of Discovery” Campaign, which includes a refresh of the Next List flier, bookseller incentives, customer contests, and a capping celebratory INL author session at Wi12, in Minneapolis. 
  • Heard a report from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the upcoming Children’s Institute. 
  • Received a briefing from ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen on the recent meetings of the ABA Educational Task Force. 
  • Heard a report from Mr. Cullen and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the ongoing planning for Wi12.
  • Received a report on the successful Independent Bookstore Day on behalf of IBD from Board member Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the 2016–2017 ABA Board convened, with new Board members Ms. Kleindienst and Mr. Morrow. 

Ms. Burton and Mr. Teicher, on behalf of ABA, expressed the association’s deep gratitude to outgoing Board member Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kansas, for her years of insightful, committed, and productive service on the Board.