Faces of ABA: Meet the Membership and Marketing Department

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The American Booksellers Association is seeing a growth in membership, both from new bookstores opening and existing stores expanding, and the staff at ABA is focused on helping members meet the challenges of a competitive marketplace by offering a wide range of services and resources.

Maria Rodriguez, Catherine Cusick, Meg Smith, Nathan Halter, and Greg Galloway

To kick off a new series on ABA’s staff and their roles in supporting indie booksellers, the Membership and Marketing team talks about its work assisting the association’s bookstore membership, developing indie-focused marketing campaigns, and meeting booksellers at ABA events. Watch Bookselling This Week over the coming weeks to learn more about each department and its role within ABA.

Leading the Membership and Marketing Department is Meg Z. Smith, who joined ABA in 1999 in a business development role for Book Sense, the predecessor to IndieBound. As the years progressed, Smith took on a variety of ABA marketing projects, and in 2010 she was appointed head of the Membership and Marketing Department, which was created to help booksellers maximize their member benefits and to increase the association’s overall membership.

As ABA’s membership and marketing officer, Smith collaborates with the other departments within ABA on marketing campaigns, events, and other initiatives. “I’m a project person,” said Smith. “And I love the creativity that I get to bring to the projects at ABA.”

Smith noted that “everything ABA does is focused on what members tell us they would like and need,” including creating indie-oriented marketing campaigns, developing marketing collateral, planning member communications, and expanding membership benefit options. “We try to present a variety of offerings to appeal to the largest number of members, since the stores are so varied,” she said.

Booksellers are encouraged to contact Smith with any suggestions for the Membership and Marketing Department and to share photos of their stores with the team for use in promotional materials and on BookWeb.org.

Smith can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7541, or Meg@bookweb.org.

Greg Galloway, ABA’s marketing and content technology manager, designs and produces print and digital marketing materials used in a variety of association promotions and communications. He also assists with technology needs on-site at Winter Institute, Children’s Institute, and BookExpo America.

Galloway joined ABA in 2011 after more than 15 years of owning and operating a website and marketing service that catered to small businesses in the New York area. “I had been enjoying working for a variety of small businesses in my town, and I liked the idea of being able to continue working for independent businesses, but in a more focused way,” said Galloway.

At ABA, “I enjoy working with a team of professionals towards our common goal of supporting the membership,” said Galloway, who collaborates with fellow association staff to produce materials such as the Indie Next List fliers, Indies First promotional materials, and video campaigns like Why Indies Matter.

“I’m lucky enough to live in a village with a Main Street full of unique independent businesses — they enrich my life and strengthen my community. I get a lot of satisfaction from my part in our efforts to support our members and their contributions to that vitality in communities across the country,” he said.

Galloway can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7568, or Greg@bookweb.org.

Perhaps the two most well-known members of the department are Member Relationship Managers Nathan Halter and Catherine Cusick, whom booksellers have gotten to meet face-to-face at the Welcome Desks at Winter Institute and Children’s Institute, at the Ask ABA table in the Member Lounge at BookExpo America, and at the fall regional trade shows.

Halter, ABA’s member relationship and database manager, joined the association in 2011 after several years as a bookseller at The Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. As the point of contact for booksellers in the MPIBA, NCIBA, PNBA, SCIBA, and SIBA regions, Halter acts as a liaison between the association and its bookseller members, handling inquiries from and providing information to current and prospective members, as well as managing the membership database.

Halter is happy to be able to put his experience as a bookseller to use in his role at ABA. “I worked at a bookstore for years and, while I was ready to do something new, I knew I wanted to stay in the book industry. This was a great opportunity and a great chance to work with and support booksellers all across the country,” said Halter.

The many ABA events are what Halter enjoys most in his role. “I like attending our events and talking with and learning about our booksellers — that is by far my favorite part of the job,” he said. Halter also takes every opportunity to visit member bookstores during his vacation and work-related travels. “I like to hear how booksellers are doing,” he said.

Cusick, ABA’s member relationship and social media manager, is the staff contact for bookseller members in the NEIBA, NAIBA, MIBA, and GLIBA regions. Cusick joined ABA in 2013 and spent her first day on the job assisting booksellers at BookExpo America. In addition to attending ABA events across the country to meet members in person, Cusick enjoys following and sharing booksellers’ social media updates throughout the year.

“I love live-tweeting keynotes, talks, and education sessions whenever we’re on site in a different city,” said Cusick, who began managing ABA’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter last year. “I think authentic and moving things happen on social media all the time, and I’m always genuinely psyched to watch booksellers’ reactions to a presentation’s ideas when that inspiration hits in real time.”

Halter can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7514, or Nathan@bookweb.org. Cusick can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7566, or Catherine@bookweb.org.

Maria Rodriguez, who joined the association in 2014, is ABA’s office administrative assistant. Rodriquez provides general support to ABA staff and works on projects for both the Membership and Marketing and Meetings and Planning departments. Prior to joining ABA, she worked as a production and logistics coordinator for Reader’s Digest.

Rodriguez contributes to the Membership and Marketing Department by managing requests for membership kits, handling mailing list rentals, and coordinating Mary Engelbreit gift certificate orders. She also answers the association’s main telephone line and assists with general inquiries.

It was her love for reading and her professional background in the literary and publishing world that drew Rodriguez to this diverse and versatile position at ABA. “I love working with the different departments at ABA — I love our crew here,” Rodriguez said. “But I also love going to ABA’s events, where I can speak with booksellers and get to know them. They’re all so incredibly different.”

Rodriguez can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7536, or Maria@bookweb.org