A Report on the February 2013 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met from February 20 - 22, 2013, in Kansas City, Missouri, just prior to the eighth annual Winter Institute.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting in October 2012, including:

    • his keynote presentation, “The New Frontier of Bookselling,” at the PubWest conference in Keystone, Colorado, in October and his presentation “Booksellers and Change” at the Tools of Change Conference in New York City in February;
    • ABA’s office move from Tarrytown to White Plains, New York, in December.
    • the effects of Hurricane Sandy on ABA office operations, as well as on members. Teicher also provided an update on the switch by LIBRIS, the ABA-owned insurance company, to a new underwriter and its impact on member claims;
    • his conversations with Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher for the Institute for Local Self Reliance, about a follow-up to  January 2011’s Advocates for Independent Retail Summit, as well as plans for the post-holiday Independent Business Survey conducted in January 2013.
    • his discussions with various press organizations, via phone and in-person meetings, to emphasize the strength of independent bookstores;
    • his participation in the 2012 Guadalajara Book Fair;
    • a meeting with the executive directors of the regional booksellers associations in Dallas to discuss issues of mutual concern;
    • a series of meetings with representatives from Kobo, which took place in Toronto and New York;
    • his trip to Wichita, Kansas, to work for several days during the holiday season at Watermark Books & Café;
    • his work as a member of the World Book Night Board and plans for the April 23 celebration;
    • his attendance at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association’s farewell event for longtime executive director Jennifer Bigelow, who retired in December.
  • Received a report from ABA President Becky Anderson, of Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois, on her activities on behalf of the association since the October Board meeting, including:

    • her visit to ABA’s new offices in White Plains, New York, in January;
    • meetings with publishers to discuss issues of mutual concern.
  • Received an update from ABA senior staff on plans for Winter Institute 8, which was set to begin on February 22.
  • Received and approved a report from ABA’s auditors, Marks Paneth & Shron, on the association’s 2012 Audited Financial Statement, for the year ending September 30, 2012. The Audited Consolidated Financial Statement provided an unqualified (“clean”) opinion of the association’s finances. In addition, the Board reviewed ABA’s 2011 Form 990 Tax Return. (The final audited report and Form 990 will be available to members on BookWeb prior to the May 30 ABA Annual Membership Meeting.)
  • Received the report of the Nominating Committee, chaired by Board member John Evans of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Los Angeles, Malibu, and Oakland, California. For three-year terms as Directors, beginning June 2013, the Board nominated Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books and Café in Wichita, Kansas; Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut; and Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Bagby currently serves on the Board and is eligible for a second three-year term.
  • Named Steve Bercu of BookPeople in Austin, Texas, ABA’s current vice president, to serve a two-year term as ABA president, and Betsy Burton of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, to serve as ABA vice president/secretary.
  • Received an update on IndieCommerce issues from Member Technology Director Neil Strandberg and Technology Director Matt Supko via conference call;
  • Heard a report from Member Technology Director Strandberg on the ABA/Kobo partnership and other digital issues, and had a conference call with Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis.
  • Received a report from William King, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, on the performance of the association’s investment portfolio and spoke via conference call with Will R. Nasgovitz and Kevin A. Joy of Heartland Advisors and Heartland Group, Inc.
  • Met in executive session with ABA’s general counsel, Deanne Ottaviano of Arent Fox, LLP, via conference call.
  • Discussed plans for the upcoming Spring Booksellers Forums and for BookExpo America.
  • Had dinner with the senior management of Andrews McMeel Publishing, the host of Winter Institute 8’s Opening Reception.