A Letter from the Officers of the ABA Board

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Dear Fellow Booksellers,

We’re honored to formally introduce ourselves as your new ABA Board officers, President Christine Onorati and Co-Vice Presidents Kelly Estep and Angela María Spring.

Christine is new to her role, Kelly is continuing in her current role as co-VP/Secretary, and Angela now joins her in Christine’s vacant spot. We are proud to have Angela serve in a leadership role on the ABA Board, representing both non-traditional store models as well as the Latinx community. The Board knows it is important for leadership to reflect ABA’s commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation, and while this is a good step in that direction, we continue to work toward achieving equity in all of our board representation.

Board Priorities and Goals

As always, the success of bookstores is the Board’s priority. We are having important discussions about the evolution of how we work; changing consumer trends, and antitrust; and supporting the ABA staff in their work to achieve the Ends Policies set by the Board. We regularly review the Ends Policies, in accordance with ABA’s Governance Policy, and that process is informed by the input we receive from members in forums like last week’s Town Hall and board office hours, as well as ongoing board education relevant to the future of bookselling.

We are looking at the work of the organization through the lens of equity in various ways, including equity amongst ourselves as booksellers, equity with publishers, and the equity of the book ecosystem in regard to Amazon and other threats to independent bookselling. It is part of our job as a Board to build upon the work of previous Boards to ensure continuity, which includes our commitment to equity and antiracism. This work continues to evolve as we gain more information, education, and feedback from membership and others, ensuring we offer the best tools and resources for member bookstores. Together we are building a stronger, more resilient ABA and independent bookstore industry.

Board Transparency and Accessibility

As mentioned, forums such as Town Hall are important for us to hear from you all and take action based on your feedback. Our goal is to be transparent and accessible.

We hope you were able to tune into last week’s Town Hall to hear more about our reinforced commitment to equity, as well as ABA’s antitrust work, freedom of expression, and other topics. If you missed it, the link to the recording is available on Bookweb.

We have also committed to the following:

  • Creating an FAQ resource to share the thinking behind the decision to change the Ends Policies regarding free expression. We have heard from members who support the decision and from those who have concerns about the decision or are opposed to it. We have read and discussed your emails, and heard that some feel your views have been dismissed. We understand how difficult that must feel. We hear your concerns, and are still secure in our stance. We have had lengthy conversations amongst our Board over these many months, some of them moderated by outside professionals. We have listened to our members, including those on the DEI and BAC committees, and we have made decisions based on these discussions and your feedback.
  • We will be posting Board meeting recaps, effective immediately, in both BTW and on Bookweb. These will include the minutes plus more detail. A recap of our February meeting is now available.
  • We have created a Board-only email address so correspondence can be sent directly to all Board members with one address. The address is [email protected]. We commit to responding to every email we receive.
  • The Board will communicate with members via BTW, including regular Board letters and meeting recaps. Look for a special Board Edition of BTW on February 25, 2022.
  • We will rotate Board letters amongst all of the Board directors on a bimonthly basis so you can hear from all of us and not just the President.
  • Finally, we’ve been hosting board office hours for the past year and we’d love to see you at an upcoming one: Tuesday, March 29, 4 pm – 5 pm ET; Tuesday, April 19,  6 pm – 7 pm ET; and Wednesday, June 15, 7 pm – 8 pm ET. There’s also the next ABA Annual Meeting and Town Hall on Thursday, May 26, 2 pm – 3:30 pm ET, and the Board will have a space at Ci10 in Phoenix, Arizona, June 20–22.

We welcome discussion and feedback — this is part of how we’ll build a more powerful, effective, and equitable organization. We rely on your engagement and hope you will meet us in that request. We look forward to hearing from you, as well as continuing our mission to secure a strong future for ABA and independent bookstores.

Christine Onorati
President, American Booksellers Association
WORD Bookstores
Brooklyn, NY & Jersey City, NJ

Kelly Estep,
Co-Vice President, American Booksellers Association
Carmichael’s Bookstore & Carmichael’s Kids
Louisville, KY

Angela María Spring
Co-Vice President, American Booksellers Association
Duende District
Albuquerque, NM & Washington, DC

Note: As previously reported, Christine stepped into the role of President when former President, Brad Graham, stepped down last month to give his full attention to his stores and to focus on productive contract negotiations with the union at Politics and Prose.