A Report on the July 2018 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on July 16–18, 2018, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities in the relatively short time since the last full Board meeting, in May at BookExpo, including:

    • Working with ABA colleagues on the successful execution of the sixth Children’s Institute, held in New Orleans from June 19–21;
    • Continuing his ongoing work with representatives of Batch — the U.K. Booksellers Association’s centralized online invoice payment and data system — to prepare for a launch of Batch in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2019;
    • Delivering the keynote address at the annual meeting of the National NeedleArts Association, at which he discussed the resurgence of the indie bookstore channel and the importance of locally owned, Main Street business (the NeedleArts Association’s membership includes needleworks shops nationwide);
    • Meeting, together with ABA senior staff, Robert A. Walton, the CEO of the National Association of College Stores, and Natalie A. Richardson, the director of global logistics for NACS’ subsidiary indiCo, to discuss how ABA and NACS might better work together in support of their respective members;
    • Meeting, together with Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen, with senior executives of the Ingram Content Group to discuss a number of topics relevant to the indie bookstore channel;
    • Continuing discussions with the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the trade organization dedicated to serving the hobby games industry, about how ABA and GAMA might work together to the mutual benefit of their respective memberships;
    • Continuing discussions with the Greeting Card Association (GCA), the trade association serving the greeting card industry, about ways in which ABA and GCA might help indie stores more profitably sell greeting cards. (GCA has produced a survey to solicit feedback from independent booksellers about potential ways that they might work with members of GCA to boost the sale of greeting cards);
    • And, just prior to the Board meeting, traveling to Wi14 host city Albuquerque, New Mexico, where, as part of the planning for Wi14, he and ABA colleagues met with representatives of the Albuquerque Convention Center, local booksellers, and other leaders of the area’s book community to discuss possible Wi14 programming, and also visited area bookstores.
  • Heard a report from ABA President Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • Together with Mr. Teicher, ABA Vice President/Secretary Jamie Fiocco, and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger meeting with senior executives from Chronicle Books and Scholastic as part of ABA’s ongoing meetings with individual publishers;
    • Helping to facilitate the session “A Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion Tactics for Booksellers” at BookExpo (the session was a roundtable discussion on key issues regarding implementation of diversity and inclusion tactics in bookstores);
    • Facilitating a productive small-group discussion at the Vital Bookstore at BookExpo;
    • Attending the Booksellers Advisory Council meeting after BookExpo;
    • Participating in a conference call meeting of the recently constituted task force on pre-orders;
    • Continuing his outreach to and communication with the presidents of the regional trade associations and individual ABA members;
    • Participating in a conference call meeting of the ABA Diversity Task Force.
  • Reviewed ABA’s Ends Policies and the 2017 compliance reports from staff in regards to those policies. (The compliance reports detail ABA’s work to fulfill the association’s Ends Policies.) After discussion, the Board appointed a subcommittee to recommend revised language for the Ends Policies that would better articulate the role of technology in bookselling today.
  • Heard a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including IndieCommerce, IndieLite, and IndieBound.org.
  • Met with Andy Hunter, the Publisher at Catapult, Counterpoint, Soft Skull Press, Black Balloon Publishing, and Literary Hub.
  • Were given an update on ABA’s financials from ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel.
  • Met with William Jones Investment Management representatives Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, who briefed the Board on ABA’s investment policy and reviewed the performance of the association’s investment portfolio.
  • Met with Julia Reidhead, CEO of W.W. Norton and Company.
  • With Board approval, ABA President Sindelar nominated Board member Christine Onorati of WORD in Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey, as a member of the ABA Nominating Committee.
  • Reviewed reports and heard updates from Mr. Teicher, Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger, and Mr. Cullen on the recently concluded Children’s Institute; ABA’s annual ABACUS financial survey, which ended its submission period with a record number of bookstore participants; ABA’s work with the Great American Read, PBS’ eight-part television series aimed at sparking a national conversation on reading; and the Indies First program.
  • Heard an update on planning for the 2019 Independent Bookstore Day.