A Letter From the ABA Board of Directors About the Association’s Elections

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

ABA logoDear Bookseller,

As members of your Board we take very seriously the importance of representative, responsive, and transparent governance for the American Booksellers Association. This is especially the case regarding the process by which candidates for election to the ABA Board of Directors are nominated and selected.

Because some aspects of the nominations and elections process might be unclear, we wanted to follow up Bookselling This Week’s coverage last week about the start of the Nominating Committee’s search for qualified Board candidates with a fuller look at the nominating process.

ABA is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, including two officers, who are the ABA president and vice president/secretary. Except for the president, Board members serve for three-year terms, and they are eligible to be re-elected once. The president serves for a two-year term, and any members of the Board serving their second term are eligible to serve as president. The vice president/secretary is one of the 10 Board members, and all current members of the Board with at least two years of service prior to the date when office would be assumed can be considered by the Board as possible nominees for vice president/secretary. The terms of the Board members are staggered, so that only three or four members’ terms are up in any one year.

The process by which the Board and officers are elected is explained in the association’s bylaws and governance documents, but here’s a summary:

Each year, the ABA president, with approval from the Board, appoints a Nominating Committee to recommend candidates for the Board. The Nominating Committee is made up of five ABA members, all booksellers, three of whom are not current Board members. Those recommendations for the Nominating Committee are presented by the president to the Board for approval.

In anticipation of the upcoming Board election, the Nominating Committee opens the nomination process with outreach to the full membership to identify qualified candidates to stand for election, asking for submissions via a short online form.

To be nominated for the Board of Directors an ABA member must be the owner or employee of an independent bookstore with a storefront location that is operated according to sound business principles. In addition, a candidate must have at least three years of recent experience as the owner or employee of a member company. It is also desirable that nominees have at least two years of experience as an active volunteer in ABA and/or in a regional association or other constituency organization.

When reviewing candidates for the position of Board member, the Board has instructed the Nominating Committee to consider a number of factors, including commitment to ABA’s mission and the best interests of the association’s bookstore members, as well as the requisite leadership, financial, and communications skills necessary. The Board has directed the Nominating Committee that the makeup of the ABA Board must be representative of the association’s diversity, in keeping with ABA’s bylaws (Article IV). Qualifications for the Board are outlined in the ABA Nomination and Election Guidelines.

After meetings and deliberations, the Nominating Committee presents a slate of candidates to the ABA Board, and, following approval, these candidates are then submitted to the full membership in an election held each spring. In the period after the announcement of the slate of candidates and before the election, any bookstore member may submit petitions to have the names of additional candidates added to the ballot for the Board of Directors elections. The additional candidates must meet the qualifications noted in the bylaws, and the names on the petition in support of the candidate must reflect at least two percent of ABA bookstore members; additionally, those members must be located in at least five states, with representatives of no one state constituting more than 50 percent of the total number of petition signatures.

Upon receipt of valid petitions, additional director candidates will be added to the ballot, alongside the candidates put forth by the ABA Nominating Committee and approved by the Board at its January meeting.

In conjunction with this entire process, the Board selects the nominees for president and vice president/secretary, and those choices are submitted to the full membership for election in conjunction with the Board candidates. The ballots in ABA Board elections also allow for write-in candidates.

ABA’s bylaws were amended in 2009 to allow elections to take place electronically. The ballot for Board elections is sent to ABA members via e-mail 60 days prior to the ABA Annual Membership Meeting, which is held during BookExpo America (BEA). The results of the election are announced before BEA, and the newly elected Board members begin their terms at the Board meeting held immediately before the opening of BEA.

We hope this description of the procedures for the nomination and election of your ABA Board is helpful in answering any questions and, just as importantly, encourages you to be part of this critically important process. You are encouraged to submit a nomination via the form available here.

If you have any comments, questions, or feedback, please do contact us.

Betsy Burton, ABA President
The King’s English Bookshop
Salt Lake City, Utah

Robert Sindelar, ABA Vice President / Secretary
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, Washington

Pete Mulvihill, Chair, 2016–2017 Nominating Committee
Green Apple Books
San Francisco, California

John Evans
DIESEL, A Bookstore
Oakland, California

Jamie Fiocco
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Kris Kleindienst
Left Bank Books
St. Louis, Missouri

Valerie B. Koehler
Blue Willow Bookshop
Houston, Texas

Chris Morrow
Northshire Bookstore
Manchester Center, Vermont

Matthew Norcross
McLean & Eakin Booksellers
Petoskey, Michigan

Annie Philbrick
Bank Square Books
Mystic, Connecticut

Jonathon Welch
Talking Leaves Books
Buffalo, New York