A Report on the ABA Board’s October 2014 Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met from October 19 to October 21 in Santa Rosa, California.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities, and association activities in general, since the last full Board meeting in July, including:

    • His work with ABA staff in formulating the budget for the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year.
    • ABA’s efforts regarding the expansion of the Indies First initiative — including work with both American Express regarding Small Business Saturday activities (November 29) and with authors Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, and Daniel Handler, among others, regarding author participation in Indies First/Small Business Saturday in-store events and author-bookstore partnerships for the sale of autographed books.
    • The ongoing work for Winter Institute 2015, including programming and event logistics.
    • ABA’s participation in the eight fall regional trade shows, which included an update on the educational panels offered by ABA — on bookstore finances and on how to most effectively implement Indies First/Small Business Saturday. Teicher noted that all the shows reflected an energetic spirit among booksellers and that he had had an opportunity to meet with a large number of booksellers, including both newly established bookstores and new owners of established stores. Teicher also said that ABA was grateful to again have had the opportunity to give an association update at the regional shows’ annual meetings, as well as to meet with the Boards of many of the regional associations.
    • His many interviews with both national and local media, which has helped highlight the news of the indie bookstore resurgence in a number of media stories about the industry.
    • His ongoing work with related industry associations, including Advocates for Independent Business (AIB).
  • Heard a report from ABA President Steve Bercu of BookPeople in Austin, Texas, on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • His participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Retail Advocates Summit. This event, held in July in Washington, D.C., gave 129 retailers from 32 states an opportunity to speak with elected officials and key staffers in 184 meetings to advocate on behalf of issues important to retailers, including sales tax fairness.
    • Travel at the invitation of Reed Exposition with senior executives of BookExpo America to China and a number of meetings regarding the participation of that country’s book industry in BEA 2015.
    • Discussions with the Independent Book Publishers Association regarding its 2015 Publishing University, an annual educational and networking event.
  • Unanimously approved a combined ABA/BSI budget (which does not include ABA’s insurance company, LIBRIS) that anticipates utilizing approximately $386,000 from ABA’s endowment for programming on behalf of association members. Teicher noted that thanks to prudent management of expenses and a better-than-expected return on the ABA endowment the association had ended the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year with a surplus as opposed to a projected deficit.
  • Received a financial report from William King, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, and from Mark A. Morris, managing director, portfolio manager of NWQ Investment Management, to review the results for ABA’s investment portfolio and to hear a forecast for the U.S. economy.
  • Received a report from ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen and Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger on the upcoming Winter Institute (Wi10) — set for February 8 – 11, 2015, in Asheville, North Carolina — which included updates on sponsorship support, registration, program development, and the participation of many of Asheville’s local businesses in Wi10 events and educational sessions.
  • Heard an update from Dallanegra-Sanger on next year’s Children’s Institute, set for April 19 – 21, 2015, in Pasadena, California, immediately following the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
  • Received a report from Dallanegra-Sanger on the expanded Indies First program, including growing programming and author participation in Indies First/Small Business Saturday. Following the announcement that authors Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer were the volunteer spokespeople for Indies First 2014 — and their updates via social media — both bookseller and author participation was steadily growing. She also updated the Board on author Daniel Handler’s recently announced “Upstream” program, which invites writers nationwide to partner with independent bookstores to sign stock of their books to keep on hand.
  • Discussed an initial report on ABA’s July symposium on retail bookselling, drafted by the event’s facilitator, Redstone Strategy Group.
  • Received a report from ABA Director of Member Technology Neil Strandberg on the IndieCommerce program, including an update regarding the ongoing upgrade of IndieCommerce websites to the Drupal 7 platform.
  • Heard a report from Board member Robert Sindelar, current chair of the Nominating Committee, regarding its ongoing work.
  • Discussed ABA’s work with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the other regional bookselling associations in support of Independent Bookstore Day (May 2, 2015). (ABA’s ongoing efforts include $25,000 in financial support and technical support for website development.)
  • Received a report from CEO Teicher on the planning now underway for BookExpo America (BEA) 2015.