A Report on the September Meeting of ABA’s Board of Directors

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met from September 26 – 28, 2015, in Denver, Colorado.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

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

    • His work with colleagues on the logistics and programming for the upcoming Winter Institute, which will be held in Denver on January 23 – 26, 2016.
    • His work with ABA staff in formulating the budget for the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year. Mr. Teicher noted that this was the first budgeting process that ABA Chief Financial Officer Robyn DesHotel had participated in, and he praised her indispensable work on developing the budget.
    • The successful integration of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, now the American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE), into ABA. One year after the merger of the two organizations, he noted that the consolidation of a number of ABFE administrative functions within ABA had allowed ABFE to devote more resources to programming and communication with booksellers.
    • ABA’s work to assist James Patterson in implementing his new initiative, which will distribute $250,000 in holiday bonuses to booksellers at ABA member bookstores. 
    • The continuing media coverage of the resurgence in independent bookstores, and ABA’s work in responding to ongoing media inquiries, which very often include interviews with Mr. Teicher by both national and local media.
    • His ongoing work with the IndieCommerce staff regarding the implementation of new features and ongoing communication with the program’s users and association members.
    • ABA’s work to upgrade both the technical platform and the scope of information of the Book Buyer’s Handbook, work that is scheduled to be completed in the early months of 2016.
    • ABA’s participation in the regional trade associations’ fall shows. This work includes the development of the educational session “The Economics of Publishing and How They Impact Booksellers.” Created under the direction of ABA Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, the session will provide booksellers with important insights into publishers’ financial realities and contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the industry among booksellers and publishers. In addition, at the shows, ABA Board officers, Board members, and staff will be meeting with the Boards of the regional trade associations.
    • Work to organize a focus group of booksellers at the Heartland Fall Forum trade show to explore ways that ABA can work with BookExpo America to maximize the show’s value for booksellers.
    • ABA’s ongoing advocacy work, including the important issue of minimum wage. Mr. Teicher noted that on behalf of member bookstores he had recently sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stressing that, while indies do not oppose increases in the minimum wage, it is critically important that the state be open to working with bookstores and other small businesses to craft a solution that raises wages based on sound economic principles.
    • ABA’s work as part of Advocates for Independent Business, including plans to continue the post-holiday survey of indie businesses, which has provided illuminating data and helped garner important publicity.
    • ABA’s efforts to assist Politics & Prose in its role as the official bookseller for the 2015 National Book Festival.
    • ABA’s meeting with the new executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, Mark Kuyper, including a discussion of the ways the two organizations might work together on projects to benefit indie booksellers and the industry as a whole.
  • Unanimously approved a combined ABA/BSI budget (which does not include ABA’s insurance company, LIBRIS) that anticipates utilizing approximately $1.7 million from ABA’s endowment, to supplement ABA’s other sources of income, for programming on behalf of association members. Mr. Teicher noted that thanks to successful management of expenses and a better-than-budgeted return on the ABA endowment the association had ended the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year with a surplus as opposed to a projected deficit.
  • Received a financial report from Ms. DesHotel reviewing the results for ABA’s operations and investment portfolio.
  • Received a report from IndieCommerce Manager Geetha Nathan and technology consultant Matt Supko on various aspects of the IndieCommerce program. They briefed the Board on a number of improvements, large and small, to the platform, including the first in a number of steps to improve search relevance, bulk upload of book lists, and more. They also updated the Board on the expansion of the IndieCommerce Help Center, which now includes a growing number of new training videos, as well as the new IndieCommerce biweekly training webinars. In addition, they reported on new features that will be launched this fall, including additional search relevance improvements, predictive search, the return of an improved advanced search, and an expansion of the IndieCommerce book database. (Read this week’s related story on IndieCommerce’s new features.)
  • Received a report from ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen and Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger on the upcoming Winter Institute (Wi11), 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, set for June 21 – 23, in Orlando, Florida, immediately preceding the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.
  • Heard a report from Board member Jamie Fiocco, current chair of the Nominating Committee, regarding its ongoing work.
  • Received a report from Mr.Teicher on the planning underway for BookExpo America (BEA) 2016, scheduled for May 11 – 13, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois.