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 made up of ABA bookstore owners or booksellers from member stores. The ABA Board sets policy for the association, monitors the performance of the CEO — who is responsible for formulating and executing the strategy to meet the goals of the organization — and futurecasts for industry trends to inform the membership and ABA’s work.

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 directors must be BIPOC, of which a minimum of two directors 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 middle 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 recommendation letters. Eligible nominees that wish to go through the election process will be asked to provide two letters of recommendation. These letters can come from people they’ve worked with in the industry. Examples include, but are not limited to, employers, sales reps, colleagues at partnering organizations, or anyone else who can speak to the nominee’s strengths.  

The only requirements are:

  1. Candidates for the Board of Directors must be the owner or employee of an independent bookstore with a physical presence (bricks & mortar storefronts, pop-up stores, mobile stores, and events-only) that is operated according to sound business principles. 
  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.

(Here’s more information about the board nomination process and what the Nominating Committee considers in evaluating nominated booksellers.)

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 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, email, 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 in mid-February.

Ballots are distributed in March and returned in April. The elected booksellers are announced in Bookselling This Week a few days after the ballot deadline to allow for certification and notification. The new Board members take office at the Town Hall and Annual Meeting in May.

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


2021-2022 Board of Directors Election

For the 2021-2022 Board of Directors election, four directors must be elected by the ABA membership.

Three current board members, Jenny Cohen, Cynthia Compton, and Michelle Malonzo, are eligible to be selected for the 2021-2022 slate of board candidates. (Cohen is completing her first three-year term [2019–2022]; Malonzo and Compton will be reaching the end of their interim terms, both having been selected to fill board vacancies.) 

Board member Kris Kleindienst is finishing her second three-year term, creating an open position.

The timeline is as follows:

  • September 3: Nomination process begins
  • October 17: Nominations due
  • January 26: Candidates announced and petition process begins
  • February 18: Petitions due
  • March 11: Ballots open
  • April 10: Ballots due
  • Week of April 11: New Directors announced
  • May 26: 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
  • Directors on the ABA board make a significant time commitment, meeting many times over the course of the year, virtually and/or in person
  • These are volunteer positions. Directors are reimbursed for authorized expenses, and board officers may receive a stipend to offset expenses incurred by their store due to their absence while working on board duties.
  • 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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