A Report on the ABA Board's Spring 2010 Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association Board of Directors held its spring meeting on Sunday and Monday, May 23 and 24, in New York City, prior to BookExpo America 2010.

During the meeting, the Board:

  • Received reports from ABA President Michael Tucker, of Books Inc., and ABA CEO Oren Teicher on a wide range of activities since the last Board meeting, including:

    • meetings to discuss issues of mutual concern with CBA, the Association for Christian Retailers; the Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores;
    •  meetings in Washington, D.C., with Karen Gordon Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, to discuss an array of issues of importance to independent booksellers, and with key legislators and other associations, to discuss sales tax equity and other policy issues;
    • participation in an ABA Digital Task Force meeting and a visit to Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California, to discuss possible areas of partnership on e-books;
    • a series of visits to publishers in New York City with ABA Vice President Becky Anderson, of Anderson's Bookshops, and Board member Steve Bercu, of BookPeople, to discuss industry issues;
    • a meeting with Ingram in Nashville, Tennessee;
    • the February meeting of the Booksellers Advisory Council;
    • time spent with ABA's tax accountants in preparation for filing the association's 2008 -2009 990 tax form, which was substantially revised for this year (a copy of the 990 is available to members via BookWeb.org); and
    • LIBRIS, the ABA insurance program, and preliminary efforts to explore the possibility of the program being able to offer health insurance to participating members.
  • Heard a report from staff on the 12 spring Booksellers Forums, where the association reached nearly 350 booksellers from 250 member stores and key discussion topics were digital issues, publisher relations, and e-fairness;
  • Received an update on ABA technology-related initiatives, including the ABA/Google partnership, as well as meetings with other key players and potential partners in the digital arena;
  • Approved the expenditure of funds to engage an outside firm to undertake substantial improvements to ABA IndieCommerce;
  • Heard a report on membership initiatives and an analysis of the ABA dues structure from ABA Membership and Marketing Officer Meg Smith;
  • Approved support for an Indie Retail Summit, to be held prior to the Sixth Annual Winter Institute, that would bring together leaders in the world of indie retail to discuss issues of mutual relevance to all retail sectors;
  • Heard a report from CEO Teicher on plans for the BEA trade show, immediately following the Board meeting;
  • Reviewed the history of the dialogue between ABA and the Association of Booksellers for Children about merging the associations, including the recently agreed-upon steps for a merger proposal, and reaffirmed ABA's commitment to children’s bookselling;
  • Received a report by COO Vlahos on the 2010 Winter Institute, sponsored by Ingram, which was held from Wednesday, February 3, through Friday, February 5, 2010, in San Jose, California;
  • Met over dinner with executives from Workman Publishing, including Owner Peter Workman, COO Walter Weintz, Group Publisher Bob Miller, and Sales Director Steven Pace, to discuss issues of mutual interest;
  • Heard a report from CEO Teicher on ABA's second quarter financial results, which showed that returns from investments had improved significantly in the second quarter and that with the association, prior to its reorganization, operating under an “as-is” budget, overall results had greatly improved; absent major economic problems, it is projected that ABA will end the fiscal year with a positive or break-even budget;
  • Received an update from ABA Industry Relations Officer Mark Nichols on publisher and bookseller participation in Above the Treeline's e-catalog product, Edelweiss, and on plans for future growth and new features;
  • Was introduced by William King, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, to Andrew Ceisler and Dan King, both of Neuberger Berman, who provided background about the firm and their management of ABA’s large cap disciplined growth fund;
  • Met in executive session and was joined by ABA's general counsel, Deanne Ottaviano of Arent Fox, LLP.