Board of Directors Elections

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The ABA Board of Directors Election Process

The American Booksellers Association is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors, which serves to inform the ABA CEO, who then informs the ABA staff, of the needs of the membership.

The Board of Directors consists of 11 Directors, one President, and one Vice President/ Secretary. (As voted by the membership in 2020, of the 13 bookseller members of the Board of Directors, a minimum of four must be BIPOC, of which a minimum of two must be Black.)

Each July, the Board of Directors President selects a five-member Nominating Committee of booksellers, as approved by the board, who will review the submitted nominees and make their recommendation to the board. The board traditionally endorses the selection of candidates for the board as put forth by the Nominating Committee, and the nominees’ names are then put forth to the membership for a vote.

At the start of September, the Nominating Committee begins accepting nominations for booksellers to join the Board of Directors. The number of positions open is determined by the number of board members completing their second three-year term (each board member is entitled to serve two three-year terms). The President and Vice President/Secretary serve two-year terms and are selected in odd-numbered years.

Nominations (including self-nominations) for qualified candidates are collected through the end of October via an online form that takes just minutes to fill out. Those who meet the eligibility criteria receive a link to fill out an extended background information form and provide references.

See the ABA Nomination and Election Guidelines to learn more about who is eligible to join the board. The only requirements are:

1) Candidates for the Board of Directors must be the owner or employee of an independent bookstore with a storefront location* that is operated according to sound business principles. (*Semi-permanent pop-ups are included under storefront locations.) 

2) Board candidates must have at least three years of recent experience as an owner or employee of a member company.

3) Candidates for President and Vice President must be members of the Board of Directors; a candidate for President must be in their second term, unless there are no board members who fill that requirement, and the Vice President should have served at least two years on their term of service. If no directors meet these requirements, a candidate must have served on the Board for at least one year immediately prior to the date of assuming office.

The Nominating Committee deliberates through the fall. An announcement of the slate of booksellers up for election to the Board comes at the end of January. In addition to this nomination process, qualified booksellers may petition the ABA bookstore membership to join the ballot by collecting the signatures of at least two percent of ABA bookstore members (43 signatures) and mailing them to the Nominating Committee along with a completed nomination form. The petition must contain original signatures of a member store owner, as well as the store name, address, and telephone number, of bookstore members in at least five states, with representatives of no one state constituting more than 50 percent of the total number of petition signatures. Any bookseller member is invited to petition to join the ballot; petitions are due at the end of February.

Ballots are distributed at the end of March and returned by the end of April. The elected booksellers are announced in Bookselling This Week the day after the ballot deadline. The new Board members take office at the Town Hall and Annual Meeting at the end of May.

See complete details about the election process in the ABA Governance Policy Manual on BookWeb.


2020-2021 Board of Directors Election

For the 2020-2021 Board of Directors election, the two appointed Black booksellers (to be announced in September) will be up for election to serve their first full three-year term. There will be one Board vacancy due to Board Director Pete Mulvihill finishing his second three-year term. If the current vice president, Bradley Graham, is selected as Board president, the Board will also have to appoint a bookseller to fill the remainder of his term.

The timeline is as follows:

  • September 2: Nomination process begins
  • October 30: Nominations due
  • January 27: Candidates announced and petition process begins
  • February 27: Petitions due
  • March 26: Ballots open
  • April 27: Ballots due
  • April 28: New Directors announced
  • May 27: Virtual Annual Meeting and Town Hall

Important details to note:

  • Nominating takes only a few minutes; permission is not required of the nominee, and a simple, brief webform is used to make the nomination
  • Booksellers are welcome to self-nominate
  • As voted by the membership in 2020, of the 13 bookseller members of the Board of Directors, a minimum of four must be BIPOC, of which a minimum of two must be Black
  • The Board of Directors meets at least four times per year (two days in conjunction with BookExpo; two days in conjunction with Winter Institute; and three to four days at summer and fall meetings, usually July and October; in addition to monthly Zoom calls that last 90 minutes to two hours)
  • Directors do not receive compensation for their services, but are reimbursed for authorized expenses
  • Board members may also serve on various committees and task forces
  • The Nominating Committee evaluates candidates’ skills, awareness of industry issues, experience with ABA and regional associations, new skills the candidate could bring to the board, how a candidate may strengthen the representativeness and diversity of the board (whether in terms of region, age, gender, race, or another attribute), as well as the bookseller’s passion for books and bookselling

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.








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