A Report on the September 2018 ABA Board Meeting

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The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors met from September 21–23, 2018, in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

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

    • Writing his president’s letter for BTW;
    • Participating in conference call meetings with both the Diversity Task Force and the Pre-Orders Task Force;
    • Preparing for the fall ABA Board meeting;
    • Coordinating the annual CEO review;
    • Conducting calls with regional association presidents;
    • Responding to bookstore member questions and comments.
  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting, including:

    • Working to prepare the association budget for the 2018–2019 fiscal year;
    • Ongoing work regarding the programming and logistics for the upcoming ABA Winter Institute, which will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 22–25, 2019;
    • Working with staff to prepare ABA’s educational session for the fall regional trade shows, “Maximizing Pre-Order Campaigns”;
    • Working with staff to launch the redesigned BookWeb.org;
    • Continuing work on the development of Batch, the U.K. Booksellers Association’s centralized online invoice and e-payment system, to prepare for a launch of Batch in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2019;
    • Working with ABA Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger to develop new Indies First terms for 2018;
    • Meeting, along with ABA staff, with the BookExpo management team to discuss ways that next year’s event might better meet the needs of independent bookstores;
    • Conducting ongoing discussions with other industry trade associations to explore possible health care options for member stores;
    • Working with the ABA Pre-Orders Task Force;
    • Meeting, together with Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger, with Above the Treeline/Edelweiss CEO John Rubin;
    • Meeting with the Shelf Awareness co-founder and publisher, Jenn Risko, and its Board of Directors;
    • Meeting with the MPIBA Board at their meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico;
    • Preparing for ABA’s participation in Banned Books Week;
    • Leading in New York City a debriefing session for Ci6 publisher sponsors, and continuing work on the upcoming Children’s Institute, set for June 26–28, 2019, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
    • Continuing to conduct and respond to multiple media inquiries about the state of indie bookselling with national and local media;
    • Speaking, together with Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger, via conference call with students at the most recent Paz & Associates Introduction to Bookselling Workshop, held from August 26–29, on Florida’s Amelia Island; and
    • Attending, with ABA colleagues, the SIBA fall trade show, held from September 13–15 in Tampa, Florida.
  • Unanimously approved a combined ABA/BSI FY19 budget of $7.49 million (which does not include ABA’s insurance company, LIBRIS). Because of the Board’s belief in the appropriate use of the association’s endowment to invest in programming, the approved budget anticipates utilizing approximately $365,000 from ABA’s endowment to supplement ABA’s other sources of income toward initiatives on behalf of association members. Among the funded initiatives are: Batch; marketing the indie story to the press and on social media; strengthening ABA’s educational initiatives, including on-demand educational content for booksellers; development of ABA web assets; relevant research studies; and support of ABA’s free speech efforts and advocacy efforts.
  • Received a financial report from ABA Chief Financial Officer Robyn DesHotel reviewing the results of ABA’s operations and investment portfolio.
  • Met with Williams Jones Investment Management representatives John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, and, via conference call, Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, to receive a report on the association’s investment portfolio.
  • Heard from Annie Philbrick, current chair of the Nominating Committee, who updated the Board regarding the committee’s plans for the upcoming ABA Board elections.
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies on a number of issues, including an update regarding ongoing enhancements to IndieCommerce and IndieLite.
  • Received reports from Mr. Teicher and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on a number of issues, including the work of ABA’s Pre-Orders Task force; changes in ABA operations to more effectively incorporate timely and accurate new title data as well as marketing collateral and digital assets for the indie channel; and the development of the fall trade show education session, “Maximizing Pre-Order Campaigns,” to be presented at all eight regional shows.
  • Was briefed by Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the status of The Great American Read, which on September 11 aired the first of eight episodes designed to generate a country-wide conversation about reading.
  • Received a report from Mr. Teicher and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on Indies First, including the update that Indies First spokesperson Jason Reynolds will launch the “Indie Bookstores Give Back on Small Business Saturday” campaign (#IndiesGiveBack) at Miami Book Fair at Miami Dade College on November 15, 2018. (More than 500 independent bookstores have signed up to participate in the #IndiesGiveBack campaign, for which ABA and American Express are working together with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing to make available 20,000 special edition copies of Reynolds’ Ghost to young readers in underserved communities this holiday season.)
  • Received a report from ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen and Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger on the upcoming Winter Institute (Wi14), which included updates on registration, educational and other programming, and sponsorship.
  • Were briefed by Mr. Cullen on the initial results of the latest ABACUS financial survey of independent bookstores, which will be sent to participating stores in October.