A Report on the May 2015 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on May 25–26, 2015, in New York City, just prior to the start of BookExpo America (BEA).

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 February, including:

    • Joining ABA colleagues in presenting the third annual Children’s Institute, held in Pasadena, California, from April 19–21;
    • Conducted, with ABA colleagues, 10 Spring Forum meetings, held in conjunction with the regional trade associations. At the meetings ABA presented a new educational session, “Exploring New Markets,” and met with more than 350 booksellers nationwide;
    • Joining ABA colleagues in conducting a meeting of the ABA Educational Task Force in Boston, Massachusetts;
    • Joining ABA colleagues in conducting a meeting of the ABA Digital Task Force in St. Louis, Missouri;
    • Joining ABA colleagues in conducting a meeting via conference call of the ABACUS Task Force;
    • Leading a site visit to the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado, the site of the 2016 Winter Institute (Wi11). The event will open with a reception on Saturday, January 23, followed by three days of education and programming, from Sunday, January 24, through Tuesday, January 26, 2016;
    • Leading a post-event meeting in New York City of publisher sponsors of the recent Winter Institute and the Children’s Institute;
    • Attending the London Book Fair, where he had a number of substantive talks with senior publishing executives;
    • Continuing work with ABA colleagues on Wi11;
    • Meeting with senior staff of the National Association of College Stores in Oberlin, Ohio, to explore ways that the two associations might work more effectively together;
    • Meeting with the Board of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), at the invitation of AAUP Executive Director Peter Berkery, to discuss how the two associations might increase collaborative efforts;
    • Meeting with Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Executive Director Hut Landon and Bay Area booksellers to discuss ABA’s growing efforts to assist member stores regarding the issue of minimum wage;
    • Meeting with the owners of La Libreria bookstore in Los Angeles, California, to discuss a number of issues, including diversity in the book industry and the needs of new bookstores;
    • Working with colleagues on both ABA’s member programming at BEA and the American Booksellers for Free Expression Silent Auction of children’s art, to be held in New York City the day before the opening of BEA;
    • Working with ABA Member Technology Director Neil Strandberg on the concluding phases of IndieCommerce’s migration from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7;
    • Continuing his work with the Advocates for Independent Business (AIB), of which ABA is a member of the group’s steering committee (AIB is a coalition of trade associations and other organizations that represent locally owned, independent businesses serving a consumer market. In a May Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, AIB highlighted Congress’ actions favoring the interests of big corporations at the expense of Main Street retailers and small businesses.);
    • Meeting with Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), to discuss how ABA and NBDA might more effectively work together on behalf of their member retailers.
  • 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; attending the meeting of the Booksellers Advisory Council after Wi10; and working with the National Retail Federation on issues related to independent retailers.
  • Welcomed newly elected Board director Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California, and re-elected Board members Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, and Jonathon Welch of Talking Leaves…Books in Buffalo, New York.
  • Heard a report on a recent series of publisher visits that Mr. Bercu; ABA Vice President Betsy Burton of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah; Mr. Teicher; and Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger had conducted to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • Heard a report from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the successful Children’s Institute, held in Pasadena, California.
  • Received a briefing from ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen on the recent meetings of the ABA Educational Task Force and ABACUS Task Force.
  • Heard a report from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger and Mr. Cullen on the ongoing planning for ABA’s participation in the fall regional trade shows and for Winter Institute 2016.
  • Received a briefing from Mr. Strandberg on a number of tech-related issues, ranging from the recent meeting of the Digital Task Force to the status of IndieCommerce’s migration from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7.
  • Received a report on the successful Independent Bookstore Day initiative from incoming Mr. Mulvihill.
  • Met with Alison Lazarus, president sales division, and Andrew Weber, global chief operating officer, of Macmillan Publisher to discuss matters of mutual interest to the publisher and indie booksellers.
  • Received a report on ABA’s financials from Robyn DesHotel, ABA Chief Financial Officer.
  • Met with William King, senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, and representatives from the investment management firm Loomis Sayles, who reviewed the performance of the association’s investment portfolio.
  • Met with Pamela French, the executive director of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), who thanked the Board for ABA’s ongoing support of Binc, presented an overview of the foundation and its programs, and outlined its goals for 2015–2016.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the new 2015–2016 ABA Board convened, with the new ABA President, Ms. Burton, and the new association vice president/secretary, Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in the Seattle metro area, and new Board member Mr. Mulvihill. Ms. Burton, with the Board’s approval, appointed ABA Board member Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, as the new chair of the ABA Nominating Committee.