A Report on the September 2017 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met from September 24–27, 2017, in Buffalo, New York.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA President Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, with three locations in the Seattle, Washington, area, on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • His ongoing communications with the presidents of the regional trade associations;
    • His work writing the president’s bimonthly letter to members for Bookselling This Week;
    • Responding to requests for interviews from the trade and consumer press;
    • Attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance regional trade show, where he met with the SIBA Board and participated in ABA’s educational session on backlist;
    • His ongoing work with ABA’s Diversity Task Force.
    • In addition, with Board approval, Sindelar appointed Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, of Solid State Books in Washington, D.C.; Sara Grochowski, of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan; and Alison Reid, of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Larkspur and Santa Monica, California, as new members of the ABA Booksellers Advisory Council.
  • Heard a report on the association’s activities in general since the last full board meeting, in July, including:

    • Ongoing work regarding the programming and logistics for the upcoming ABA Winter Institute, which will be held in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 22–25, 2018;
    • Working to prepare the association budget for the 2017–2018 fiscal year;
    • Working to prepare ABA’s educational sessions for the fall regional trade shows. The two sessions to be presented are “Maximizing Backlist: Proven Ways to Market, Promote, and Sell Backlist Titles” and, to be presented at the NEIBA fall show, “ABACUS New England: Understanding and Acting on NEIBA-Only Data from ABACUS-15”;
    • Developing the full-day bookseller workshop “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Addressing Stereotypes and Creating a Welcoming Environment,” to be presented ahead of the SIBA and MPIBA fall trade shows;
    • Launching the redesigned BTW;
    • Continued development improvements to BookWeb.org and IndieBound.org;
    • Adding additional information regarding publisher offers for new stores, backlist offers, and publisher and university press Indies First 2017 terms to the Book Buyer’s Handbook;
    • Meeting with Robert A. Walton, the CEO of the National Association of College Stores, and Natalie A. Richardson, director, Global Logistics indiCo Global Sourcing, on topics of mutual interest; 
    • Launching the submission process for ABACUS-16, the ABA’s annual financial benchmarking survey;
    • Ongoing work on a gift-book focused Indie Next List;
    • Work with the Authors Guild on a new program to promote emerging authors;
    • ABA’s ongoing participation as a steering committee member of the Advocates for Independent Business; 
    • Together with local booksellers, meeting with Rhode Island Congressperson David Cicilline to thank him for his call for Congressional hearings in regard to Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, and to discuss the ongoing important issue of corporate monopoly in the 21st century;
    • Working with the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation to respond to the needs of booksellers following the recent hurricanes. (ABA announced in September that it would be making a special emergency contribution of $5,000 to Binc for hurricane relief as well as matching all contributions made to Binc, up to $5,000, between August 31 and September 15.);
    • ABA’s efforts in helping Politics & Prose in its role as the official bookseller for the 2017 National Book Festival;
    • Preparing for ABA’s participation in Banned Books Week;
    • The continuing media coverage of the independent bookstore channel, and ABA’s work in responding to ongoing media inquiries, which often include interviews with ABA CEO Oren Teicher by both national and local media.
  • Unanimously approved a combined ABA/BSI FY18 budget (which does not include ABA’s insurance company, LIBRIS) that, because of the Board’s belief in the appropriate use of the association’s endowment to invest in programming, anticipates utilizing approximately $186,000 from ABA’s endowment to supplement ABA’s other sources of income toward initiatives on behalf of association members. Among the funded initiatives are: Indie Next List and Kids’ Next List e-newsletters; marketing the indie story to the press and social media; relevant research studies; development of the next generation of booksellers; distance education for booksellers; development of ABA web assets; and legal costs to support free speech efforts.
  • Received a financial report from ABA Chief Financial Officer Robyn DesHotel reviewing the results for ABA’s operations and investment portfolio.
  • Met with Williams 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, and to discuss the portfolio’s asset allocation.
  • Received a report from Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen on the upcoming Winter Institute (Wi13), which included updates on registration, educational and other programming, and sponsorship.
  • Heard an update from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on next year’s Children’s Institute, which will take place from Tuesday, June 19, through Thursday, June 21, at the Sheraton New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Heard a report from Board member Jonathon Welch, current chair of the Nominating Committee, regarding its ongoing work.
  • Received an update from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on Indies First, Indies Introduce, and the Indie Next List.
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including an update regarding ongoing enhancements to IndieCommerce and the launch of IndieLite.