A Report on the February 2015 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on February 6 – 7, 2015, in Asheville, North Carolina, just prior to the 10th 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 2014, including:

    • His ongoing discussions with senior executives at Reed Exhibitions regarding the 2015 BookExpo America and BookCon events.
    • His work regarding the hiring of ABA’s new CFO, Robyn DesHotel.
    • His work with outgoing ABA CFO Eleanor Chang regarding the auditor’s work in preparing the association’s annual audit.
    • His meeting on November 13 – 14, together with Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen, with the executive directors of the regional trade associations.
    • His trip to Phoenix, Arizona, in November to meet with the owners and staff of the newly opened second location of Changing Hands Bookstore.
    • His participation, on November 23, in the Miami Book Fair International panel session “Do Monsters Live in Our Laptops?,” a discussion regarding whether the promise of digitization as a democratizing force has instead led to large corporations dominating the book industry.
    • His participation in the annual meeting of the LIBRIS Board of Directors in September with ABA CFO Chang and Board member Sarah Bagby of Wichita, Kansas’ Watermark Books and Café.
    • His meeting with Grove Atlantic President Morgan Entrekin, Jonny Diamond, founding editor of the L Magazine, and Andy Hunter, a co-founder of the Electric Literature website, about Literary Hub, a new website being launched by Grove that will aggregate book-related online content.
    • His work, together with a number of book industry colleagues in France, related to both ABA’s social media campaign in support of the publisher of Charlie Hebdo and the association’s distribution of copies of the commemorative issue of the magazine to interested member stores.
    • ABA’s ongoing work in preparation for Winter Institute 10.
    • ABA’s work regarding Indies First on Small Business Saturday.
    • The association’s ongoing work regarding the IndieCommerce transition to Drupal 7.
  • Heard a report from ABA President Steve Bercu of BookPeople in Austin, Texas, on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • His ongoing bimonthly President’s Letter in Bookselling This Week.
    • His outreach to and discussions with member booksellers regarding association issues.
    • In addition, with Board approval, Bercu appointed Andy Perham of Books Inc. in San Francisco, California, and Stephanie Hochschild of The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Illinois, as new members of the ABA Booksellers Advisory Council.
  • Received an update from Senior Strategy Officer Cullen on ABA’s work leading up to Winter Institute 10, which was set to begin on February 8, 2015.
  • Received a briefing from consultant Greg Dunlap of the interactive strategy, design, and development company Lullabot about a digital audit of ABA’s websites performed by the company.
  • Received and approved a report from ABA’s auditors, Marks Paneth, on the association’s 2014 Audited Financial Statement, for the year ending September 30, 2014. The Audited Consolidated Financial Statement provided an unqualified (“clean”) opinion of the association’s finances. (The final audited report and Form 990 will be available to members on BookWeb.org prior to the May 28, 2015, ABA Annual Membership Meeting.)
  • Received the report of the 2014-2015 Nominating Committee, chaired by Board member Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. The Board approved the committee’s recommendation of the following three candidates to stand for election to three-year terms (2015 – 2018) as directors on the ABA Board: Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas; Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California; and Jonathon Welch of Talking Leaves…Books in Buffalo, New York. Koehler and Welch are coming to the end of their first three-year terms as directors and both are eligible for a second three-year term. Mulvihill has not previously served on the ABA Board. (See related story in this week’s BTW.)
  • In a related action, the Board also selected Betsy Burton of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, ABA’s current vice president, for a two-year term as ABA president, and current Board member Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books to serve as ABA vice president/secretary. Their selection by the Board must be ratified by ABA membership.
  • Heard a report — including a number of analytics on media and social media coverage — from Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger on November 2014’s Indies First on Small Business Saturday, including the Upstream program, which launched in October.
  • Received a report from William King, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, on the performance of ABA’s investment portfolio.
  • Heard a report from ABA Director of Technology Neil Strandberg on the IndieCommerce program, including the transition to Drupal 7 and relevant analytics regarding the growth of online sales among the member stores on the IndieCommerce platform.
  • Met with colleagues from the Australian Booksellers Association: Joel Becker, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association; Fiona Stager, owner of the Avid Reader in Queensland, Australia, and former president of the Australian Booksellers Association; and Patricia Genat, director of ALS Library Services and current president of the Australian Booksellers Association.
  • Met with colleagues from France’s ALIRE: Eric Hardin and Sophie Saint-­Marc.
  • Reviewed a briefing report prepared by ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan on the status of the fight for sales tax equity on the national and state level.
  • Received a report from Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger on the third annual ABC Children’s Institute, to be held from April 19 – 21, 2015, at the Hilton Pasadena, immediately following the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
  • Met with representatives from Ingram Content Group to express thanks for their continued support of the Winter Institute and ABA educational programming and to discuss matters of mutual interest. Those attending were John Ingram, chairman and chief executive officer; Shawn Morin, president and chief operating officer; Shawn Everson, chief commercial officer; Phil Ollila, chief content officer; and Ron Smithson, director field sales, Ingram Book Company and Spring Arbor Distribution.