A Report on ABA’s Winter 2011 Board Meeting [3]

The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors [5] met from Saturday, January 15, through Monday, January 17, 2011, prior to the Sixth Annual Winter Institute, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.

Among its activities during the two and a half days of meetings, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA CEO Oren Teicher on his activities and the activities of association staff since the last full Board meeting, including his meeting with the New England Independent Booksellers Association Board of Directors to discuss a variety of industry issues; his participation at a conference in Shenzhen, China, [6] at the invitation of that city’s “Reading Month Committee”; recent significant activity in the fight for sales tax fairness, including meetings with several state retail councils; a meeting with executives from the American Library Association to discuss issues of mutual interest; staff preparations for that week’s Advocates for Independent Retail (AIR) Summit [7] and the Winter Institute [8]; and the successful integration of Google eBooks™ [9] into the IndieCommerce platform. In addition, he reported that ABA membership numbers continued to be stable, and that, based on BookScan data, ABA members overall had the strongest holiday selling season since 2007.
  • Heard a report from ABA President Michael Tucker of San Francisco’s Books Inc. [10] who, among other things, noted the importance of maintaining vendor relationships at the highest levels; expressed optimism for the upcoming AIR summit; provided an update on his participation in the Audit Committee; and reported on his work with ABA Vice President Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops [11] in Naperville, Illinois, and CEO Teicher, in preparation for the Board meeting.
  • Received a report from CEO Teicher and CFO Eleanor Chang on the association’s financial results for the first quarter of the fiscal year, which showed that ABA’s investments had significantly outperformed budget projections and expenses had met projections.
  • Discussed and approved a proposed amendment to the Bylaws [12] that would move ABA from a nine-person Board to a 10-person Board by making the position of Board president a separate and distinct position that serves one two-year term. Under the current Bylaws, the role of president is filled by an existing director for a one-year term, which can be extended by the Board to a second one-year term. The amendment will be placed before the membership for a vote in sufficient time that would allow for the 2011 Board elections to take place under the proposed change. (A communication from ABA President Michael Tucker with more information about the proposed changed, including the full text of the amendment, will be sent to ABA member stores within the next several days, and watch BTW in the coming weeks for additional coverage.)
  • Was briefed by CEO Teicher and COO Len Vlahos on details for the upcoming Winter Institute.
  • Received an update from COO Vlahos and ABA Technology Director Matt Supko on efforts to improve IndieCommerce customer service, and to further upgrade and improve ABA’s e-book and e-commerce offerings. The Board reaffirmed its commitment to invest capital to develop IndieCommerce [13] and to create tools to facilitate the sale of e-books.
  • Approved the report of the Nominating Committee, chaired by Board member Betsy Burton of The King’s English in Salt Lake City, Utah. For three-year terms as Directors, beginning June 2011, the Board nominated John Evans of DIESEL Bookstores [14] in Malibu, Brentwood, and Oakland, California; Matt Norcross of McLean & Eakin Booksellers [15] in Petoskey, Michigan; and Ken White of San Francisco State University Bookstore [16] in San Francisco, California. White currently serves on the Board and is eligible for a second three-year term. (See this week’s related story.)
  • Selected Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops [17] to serve as ABA President and Steve Bercu of BookPeople [18] in Austin, Texas, to serve as Vice President/Secretary. Their names and those of director candidates will appear on the Board ballot that will be sent to ABA members via e-mail by the end of March, 60 days prior to the Annual Membership Meeting, to be held on Tuesday, May 24, at the Javits Convention Center during BookExpo America.
  • Received a report from Marks Paneth & Shron LLP on ABA’s 2010 Audited Consolidated Financial Statement [22], which provided an unqualified (“clean”) opinion of the association’s finances. (The report, unanimously accepted by the Board, is available to members on BookWeb.org [23]). The auditors also noted that in a comparison using trade association indexes created by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), ABA outperformed in virtually every category.
  • Discussed the recent report of the Governance Review Committee [24] and drafted responses to the committee’s specific recommendations.
  • Was updated by COO Vlahos on efforts to bring BATCH [25] – a service of the Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom and Ireland, which is designed to help reduce overhead in the supply chain by providing a single, consolidated payment solution – to the U.S. book market.
  • Received a report from William King, senior vice president at Merrill Lynch, on the association’s endowment during the first quarter of the fiscal year, which indicated that the endowment had a return of 9.1 percent and outperformed the measuring index.
  • Was briefed by ABA CEO Teicher and COO Vlahos on plans to conduct a series of member forums that would also offer an educational component in the winter/spring of 2011 (see this week’s related article);
  • Met with Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks to discuss issues of mutual interest.
  • Heard a report by CEO Teicher on efforts to promote sales tax fairness, including a recent victory in Illinois [26], and coordinated efforts by affiliates to continue to flout tax law.
  • Was briefed by ABA Content Officer Dan Cullen on talking points for booksellers to use to answer questions from the media and others about the changing retail and book industry landscape.
  • Met in Executive Session.

During the meetings, the Board also had dinner with Joel Becker, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association; Tim Godfray, CEO of the Booksellers Association for the United Kingdom and Ireland; Lincoln Gould, CEO of Booksellers New Zealand; and Lee Trentadue, vice president of the Canadian Booksellers Association, who were in Arlington for a meeting of English-language bookseller associations hosted by ABA and to attend the Winter Institute.