A Report on the May 2019 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met on May 27–28, 2019, in White Plains, New York, just prior to the start of BookExpo, to address a number of issues.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA President Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, with three locations in the Seattle area, on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • Meeting with past ABA presidents at the 2019 Winter Institute (Wi14) to hear their ideas and feedback regarding the association;
    • Attended the meeting of the Booksellers Advisory Council following Wi14;
    • Ongoing communication with the outside search firm Isaacson, Miller, which ABA has retained the assist the association’s Search Committee in its task of recommending the next CEO candidate to the ABA Board;
    • Together with ABA CEO Oren Teicher, ABA Vice President/Secretary Jamie Fiocco, and ABA Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger conducting ABA’s annual publisher visits;
    • Attending the PNBA and NCIBA Spring Forum meetings;
    • His ongoing work with the ABA Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which included a meeting at the 2019 Winter Institute in Albuquerque and two task force conference calls. In addition, his work included assisting transitioning his liaisoning responsibilities with the ABA Board to Board member Angela Maria Spring. 
  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting, in January, including:

    • Executing with ABA colleagues ABA’s 14th annual Winter Institute (Wi14), held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from January 22–25;
    • Leading in New York City a debriefing session for the Wi14 publisher sponsors, as well as a second publisher debrief in Minneapolis;
    • Conducting with colleagues from Reed Exhibitions three bookseller focus groups on BookExpo;
    • Continuing work with representatives of Batch — the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland’s centralized online invoice payment and data system;
    • Conducting with ABA colleagues 10 Spring Forum meetings, held in conjunction with the regional trade associations. At the meetings, ABA presented a new educational session, “ABACUS and Pre-Orders: Two Programs You Can’t Do Without”;
    • Conducting together with Mr. Sindelar, Ms. Fiocco, and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger meetings with representatives of 27 different publishing houses to discuss issues of mutual interest;
    • Discussing initiatives taken by ABA in response to the news that Baker & Taylor was closing its retail wholesale operations;
    • Participating with ABA colleagues and member booksellers in both an ABA Educational Task Force meeting, held in Baltimore, and in a meeting of a newly constituted Technical Task Force, held in White Plains, New York, as well as in a conference call meeting of the ABACUS Task Force;
    • As part of ongoing planning and work regarding next year’s Winter Institute, set for January 21–24, 2020, met in Baltimore, together with colleagues, with a number of area booksellers to discuss programming ideas and community resources;
    • Together with ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen met with senior leadership of the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) to discuss how ABA and NRHA might work more closely to benefit both their memberships;
    • Participating in the PubWest 2019 Conference;
    • Together with ABA colleagues, working on a number of items preparing for ABA’s participation in and programming for BookExpo 2019, including a new Editors Speed Dating program, as well as in-office editor visits, Publicist Speed Dating sessions, a number of educational roundtable sessions, and other programming;
    • Working with ABA colleagues on programing and logistics for the seventh Children’s Institute, to be held in Pittsburgh from June 26–28, which will include for the first time an ABA member Town Hall;
    • Attending the London Book Fair, where he met with a number of senior U.S. publishing executives for productive discussions;
    • Together with ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel completing ABA’s financial audit and the preparation of the association’s 990 tax filing (both of which are available on the About ABA page on BookWeb.org);
    • Together with Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger spoke at a meeting organized by the Association of Authors’ Representatives to discuss how the two organizations might better work together on behalf of writers, booksellers, and readers;
    • Conducting numerous media interviews on bookselling and the book industry;
    • During travel since the last Board meeting, visiting a number of member stores.
  • Welcomed Board directors Jenny Cohen of Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Oregon, and Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (elected to three-year terms); Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri, and Chris Morrow of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, and Saratoga Springs, New York (re-elected for three-year terms); and Tegan Tigani of Queen Anne Book Company, in Seattle, Washington (appointed by the Board to fill a vacancy on the Board that is the result of the recent election of Fiocco as ABA’s incoming president).
  • Received a report on the series of publisher visits that Mr. Sindelar, Ms. Fiocco, Mr. Teicher, and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger had conducted to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • Heard a report from Mr. Teicher and Board director Pete Mulvihill about April’s Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) events, and discussed relevant issues regarding IBD 2020.
  • Heard a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, as well as a briefing from ABA Technology Director Greg Galloway on the first meeting of ABA’s Technical Task Force.
  • Received an update by Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the programing for the upcoming Children’s Institute.
  • Heard a report from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger and Mr. Cullen on the ongoing work in developing Wi15, and received a briefing from them on the recent meetings of the ABA Educational Task Force in Baltimore.
  • Met with Williams Jones Investment Management representatives John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, and Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, to review the performance of the association’s investment portfolio.
  • Met with Madeline McIntosh, CEO, Penguin Random House; Jaci Updike, president of sales, Penguin Random House; Kim Shannon, senior vice president, adult retail and educational sales, Penguin Random House; Felicia Frazier, senior vice president, children’s and educational sales, Penguin Random House; and Ruth Liebmann, vice president, account marketing, Penguin Random House, to discuss issues of mutual concern.
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, the 2019–2020 ABA Board convened, with new Board members Ms. Cohen and Ms. Tigani, and the newly elected Ms. Fiocco presiding as association president.
  • Outgoing president Mr. Sindelar expressed the association’s deep appreciation and thanks to outgoing Board member Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut, and Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, Rhode Island. Ms. Philbrick was completing her second three-year term as director. In addition, on behalf of the entire Board, Mr. Sindelar offered deep thanks and appreciation to Mr. Teicher for his many years of service to independent bookselling. In late fall, Mr. Teicher will be stepping down as ABA’s CEO.