A Report on the July 2019 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on July 14–16, 2019, in St. Louis.

The meeting began with an orientation to introduce the association’s policies and procedures to new Board members Jenny Cohen of Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Oregon, and Tegan Tigani of Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, Washington. The orientation was led by ABA President Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Vice President Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.; and ABA senior staff.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA President Jamie Fiocco on her activities on behalf of the association, including:

  • 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 BookExpo and the seventh annual Children’s Institute;
    • Conducting, with colleagues, the post-BookExpo meeting of the ABA Booksellers Advisory Council, and, following the Children’s Institute, a meeting of the ABC Advisory Council;
    • 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.;
    • Speaking at the annual meeting of the Madrid Book Fair, at which he discussed the state of the indie bookstore channel in the U.S. and the importance of locally owned, Main Street business;
    • Meeting senior executives of the Ingram Content Group to discuss a number of topics relevant to the indie bookstore channel;
    • Working with ABA colleagues in preparation for President Fiocco’s testimony before the USTR regarding tariffs on Chinese goods;
    • Working with ABA colleagues on a survey on environmental sustainability;
    • Participating in a number of media interviews on bookselling and the book industry;
    • Together with ABA President Fiocco, organizing a governance policy training set for this July meeting.
  • Participated in a detailed meeting with outside expert Catherine Raso, of CMR Governance Consulting, to ensure that ABA is operating as effectively as possible under its Governance Policy guidelines.
  • Reviewed and discussed ABA’s Ends Policies. Following that discussion, the Board approved the creation of an Ends Policy subcommittee made up of Graham, Tigani, and Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco. The subcommittee has been charged with reviewing the association’s Ends Policies and presenting the Board with a draft incorporating any suggested changes for consideration at the Board’s upcoming October meeting.
  • Were given an update on ABA’s financials from ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel.
  • Heard a report from Angela Maria Spring of Duende District Bookstore, via conference call, on the activities of ABA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee;
  • Reviewed detailed reports from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including IndieCommerce, IndieLite, and IndieBound.org.
  • Reviewed a detailed report prepared by William Jones Investment Management representatives Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, on the performance of ABA’s investment portfolio.
  • Met with Don Weisberg, president of Macmillan Publishers USA, and Jennifer Gonzalez, executive vice president and director of sales at Macmillan, to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • With Board approval, ABA President Fiocco nominated Board member Kelly Estep of Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky, as chair of the ABA Nominating Committee.
  • Reviewed reports and heard updates from Mr. Teicher, Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, and Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen on the recently concluded Children’s Institute; ABA’s annual ABACUS financial survey, which ended its submission period with a new record number of bookstore participants; and ABA’s plans for the fall regional shows and the upcoming Winter Institute, set for January 21–24, 2020.