A Report of the Winter ABA Board Meeting

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American Booksellers Association volunteer leadership, senior staff, and representatives of the regional associations spent a busy week in meetings from January 12 to 18 in Santa Monica, California. In addition to the ABA Board's winter meeting, the ABA Booksellers Advisory Council (BAC), the newly constituted BookSense.com Users Council (BUC), and members of the regional booksellers associations were all involved in a number of meetings throughout the week.

At the ABA Board meeting -- which began on January 17 -- members heard and approved the report of the ABA Nominating Committee, chaired by Board member Carla Jimenez of Inkwood Books in Tampa, Florida. The committee presented the Board with the names of three candidates for three-year terms as directors on the Board (2003-2006). (Under the current ABA Bylaws, each year three members of the nine-member Board come to the end of their terms.)

The booksellers nominated as candidates for the upcoming elections are: Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; Suzanne Staubach of the UConn Co-op in Storrs, Connecticut; and Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. Kaplan, ABA's vice president, and Staubach are currently members of the ABA Board who are eligible to seek one additional three-year term as Board members.

Under the ABA Bylaws, in addition to candidates put forth by the Nominating Committee and approved by the Board, any bookstore member may submit a petition for a director candidate. Upon receipt of a valid petition, the Nominating Committee will add the petitioned candidate's name to the Director ballot. For full details regarding the petition process, go to http://news.bookweb.org/read/145.)

Ballots for the Board elections will be mailed to bookstore members in March (60 days prior to the ABA annual meeting -- scheduled this year for Friday, May 30, at BookExpo America in Los Angeles), and must be returned 30 days prior to the meeting.

In addition to Jimenez, the members of this year's Nominating Committee were: Matt Miller of The Tattered Cover in Denver; Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California; Donna Urey of White Birch Books in North Conway, New Hampshire; and Jennifer Bigelow, executive director of the Southern California Booksellers Association.

In other business, the Board:

  • Met with the association's auditors from KPMG Peat Marwick and received the audited financial statement for the year ending September 30, 2002. The auditors provided a clean report, which stated that "the consolidated financial statements referred to … present fairly, in all materials respects, the financial position of ABA, Inc. and subsidiaries [as of September 30, 2002] … and the changes in their net assets and their cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. And the opinion to the consolidating and other supplement information and the consolidated financial statements -- are fairly stated in all material respects in relation to the consolidated financial statement taken as a whole."
  • Met with William King of Merrill Lynch to review ABA's investment portfolio. The Board also met with David Stumpf of NWQ Investment Management Company, which manages part of the ABA investment portfolio. (Periodically, the ABA Board reviews the association investment portfolio with representatives of the various management companies, which report on the status of the investments and provide an overview of the economic climate.)
  • Received the first quarter financial report for fiscal 2003 from ABA CFO Eleanor Chang. At the time the 2003 budget was adopted, the Board had instructed senior staff to evaluate whether, given the current economic condition, it would be necessary to revise the association budget. The Board concluded that, at the present time, that was not necessary; however, it will continue to closely monitor the budget, especially given the challenging investment climate.
  • Heard project reviews from ABA senior staff, who updated the Board on the new ABACUS program, the Book Sense program (including potential new sources of revenue), the ongoing development of an electronic gift card, proprietary publishing initiatives that grew out of the marketing session facilitated by Doug Hall at last year's BookExpo America (BEA), the development of special bookseller educational programming for BEA 2003, the BookSense.com free trial, and the development of a new BookSense.com co-op program.
  • Received a full briefing from ABA COO Oren Teicher on the current developments regarding the equitable collection of sales tax on online sales, including recent initiatives by ABA to facilitate communication between member bookstores and the nation's state governors.
  • Received a membership report, which showed a continued modest decrease in ABA membership. In addition, the Board heard about a plan for a joint recruitment effort between ABA and the regional booksellers associations.

In addition to the ABA Board meeting, a number of other association-related business was conducted.

On January 12 and 13, the BAC met with senior ABA staff in a session that was facilitated by Ivan Barkorn, a consultant to ABA. During the meetings, the BAC:

  • Discussed how to build support for the new ABACUS.
  • Worked to identify topics and approaches to the ABA's bookseller educational sessions at BEA.
  • Offered input on new Book Sense initiatives.
  • Brainstormed regarding developmental ideas for BookWeb.org.

The members of the BAC are: Dana Brigham of Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Massachusetts; Betsy Burton of The King's English in Salt Lake City; Tom Campbell of The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina; Dan Chartrand of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, New Hampshire; Ellen Davis of Dragonwings Bookstore in Waupaca, Wisconsin; Tamra Dore of Katy Budget Books in Houston; Robin Green-Cary of Sibanye in Baltimore; Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego; Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia; Dave Kaverman of Million Story Book Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana; George Kiskaddon of Builders Booksource in Berkeley, California; Luanne Kreutzer of St. Helens Book Shop in St. Helens, Oregon; Michelle Lewis of Afro-American Book Stop in New Orleans; Susan Novotny of Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, New York; Beth Puffer of Bank Street Bookstore in New York City; Dee Robinson of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington; Roberta Rubin of The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Illinois; Meg Sherman of Chinook Bookshop in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington; Diane Smith of The Gothic Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina; Sandra Torkildson of A Room of One's Own Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin; Michael Tucker of Books, Inc. in San Francisco; Donna Urey of White Birch Books in North Conway, New Hampshire; Neal Van Uum of Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati; Karen Watkins of Vroman's Book Store in Pasadena, California; and Barb Wieser of Amazon Bookstore Cooperative in Minneapolis.

The BUC also met, for the first time, at the recent meetings. Suggested by booksellers as a way to provide feedback and advice to BookSense.com staff, the BUC's discussion ranged from topics regarding future development to potential relationships with like-minded businesses to an overview of the BookSense.com budget.

The members of the BUC are: Sandy Torkildson of A Room of One's Own in Madison, Wisconsin; Michele Lewis of Afro-American Book Stop in New Orleans; Beth Puffer of Bank Street Books in New York City; Susan Novotny of Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, New York; Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; Bob Sommer of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona; Neil Van Uum of Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati; Clark Kepler of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, California; Dave Kaverman of Million Story Book Company in Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Tom Campbell of The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina; Kerry Slattery of Skylight Books in Los Angeles; Matt Miller of The Tattered Cover in Denver; Chuck Robinson of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington; Donna Urey of White Birch Books in Conway, New Hampshire; and Ann Christophersen of Women & Children First in Chicago.

During the week there was also a meeting of ABA and representatives from large stores to brainstorm ideas for large-store programming at BEA. In addition, booksellers met with representatives from BEA to assist in selecting authors for the BEA 2003 authors events.

On Friday, January 17, the ABA Board also met with the presidents and the executive directors of the regional booksellers associations. Together, they reviewed ways in which ABA and the regionals could work together on behalf of their mutual memberships. The regional associations also met on their own on January 17 and 18.