A Report on the January 2019 ABA Board Meeting [4]

The American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors [5] met on January 20–21, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, just prior to the 14th Winter Institute.

Over the course of the meeting, the Board:

  • Heard a report from ABA President Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books [6] on his activities on behalf of the association, including:

    • Attending the PNBA [7] and NCIBA [8] fall trade shows. At each show, he and ABA CEO Oren Teicher met with the regional association’s board of directors;
    • Wrote two letters to members, which appeared in BTW;
    • Met with the Independent Booksellers Consortium at its meeting in Bellingham, Washington;
    • Participated in two conference call meetings with the ABA Diversity Task Force [9]. Among the topics discussed were making relevant resources more prominent on BookWeb.org, the “Libros Para el Viaje [10]” (“Books for the Journey”) book drive set for Winter Institute, and working with Edelweiss to better highlight relevant titles.
  • Heard a report from Mr. Teicher on his activities since the last full Board meeting, in September 2018, including:

    • Working with colleagues to complete preparations for the upcoming Winter Institute, which had an expected bookseller attendance of about 700 booksellers from approximately 385 stores. He noted that one-third of the booksellers coming to Wi14 were first-timers;
    • A full fall travel schedule, which included attending the NEIBA [11], PNBA [7], MIBA [12], NCIBA [8], and SCIBA [13] fall trade shows, where he presented with ABA colleagues the new educational session on pre-orders;
    • Together with ABA Senior Program Officer Dallanegra-Sanger meeting with Gail Hochman, the President of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) to discuss ways in which ABA and AAR might work together more closely on behalf of independent bookstores;
    • Meeting in Washington, D.C., with the National Grocers Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the Independent Community Bankers of America to discuss how the associations and ABA might coordinate efforts and focus on advocacy goals of common interest, especially as part of the Advocates for Independent Business (AIB).
    • Together with ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel working on matters related to the LIBRIS insurance program;
    • Ongoing work with representatives of Batch, the Booksellers Association’s centralized online invoice payment and data system. Plans call for Batch to be launched in the U.S. in 2019;
    • Together with Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger and ABA Senior Strategy Officer Dan Cullen attending the annual meeting of executive directors of the regional trade associations;
    • Attending the Miami Book Fair International with Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger. At the show the award-winning author Jason Reynolds, who was serving his second term as Indies First spokesperson, launched the “Indie Bookstores Give Back on Small Business Saturday [14]” campaign;
    • Together with Mr. Cullen attending a very productive AIB strategy meeting in Chicago, which was preceded by attending a one-day meeting of the National Retail Hardware Association, which focused on strategies local independent business can employ for sales growth and profitability;
    • Working with the economic forecasting firm Civic Economics on a full update of the report on the effects on municipalities and states of the ongoing online sales growth of Amazon and its marketplace sellers, this year timed to closely coincide with the release of Amazon’s year-end numbers;
    • Conducting a number of media interviews regarding the ongoing growth of the indie bookstore channel [15], including with Axios, CBS, the New York Times, the Guardian, NY1, Gannett, the Washington Post, and multiple individual local media outlets;
    • Working with colleagues from BookExpo [16] on the upcoming 2019 show, set for May 29–31;
    • Together with BookExpo, presented a special session in New York City on ABACUS [17] and bookstore finances for representatives of a number of publishing houses;
    • Conducting annual staff reviews;
    • Joining the booksellers at The Elliott Bay Book Company [18] in Seattle to volunteer some help selling books in the holiday rush.
  • Received the report of the Nominating Committee, chaired by Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books [19] in Mystic, Connecticut, and Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, Rhode Island. The Board approved the committee’s recommendation of the following four candidates to stand for election as directors on the ABA Board and serve three-year terms (2019–2022):

    Serving with Philbrick on this year’s Nominating Committee are ABA Board member Christine Onorati of WORD Bookstores [24] in Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey; Nicole Sullivan of BookBar [25] in Denver, Colorado; Elisa Thomas of Cellar Door Books [26] in Riverside, California; and Christie Olson Day of Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books [27] in Mendocino, California.
    In a related action, the Board selected current ABA Vice President Jamie Fiocco, of Flyleaf Books [28] in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a two-year term as ABA president, and Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., to serve as ABA vice president/secretary. Their selection by the Board must be ratified by ABA membership.

  • Accepted the report of the association’s Governance Review Committee and expressed its thanks to the members of the committee: Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books & Café [29] in Wichita, Kansas; Jeff Deutsch of The Seminary Co-op [30] in Chicago, Illinois; and Amy Thomas of Pegasus Books [31] in Berkeley and Oakland, California. The full report will be posted on BookWeb.org in the coming weeks.
  • Met with senior executives of the Ingram Content Group to matters of mutual interest regarding the independent bookstore channel. Attending from Ingram were Shawn Everson, chief commercial officer; Phil Ollila, chief content officer; Elise Cannon, vice president, field sales; and Ron Smithson, director of field sales.
  • Received an update from Ms. Dallanegra-Sanger and Mr. Cullen on ABA’s work leading up to Winter Institute 14.
  • Received a financial report from CFO Robyn DesHotel on the results for ABA’s operations and investment portfolio.
  • Met with Williams Jones Investment Management representative Tom MacCowatt, partner and senior equity portfolio manager, and John Cummings, partner and senior fixed income portfolio manager, who presented a report on the association’s investment holdings.
  • Received a briefing from ABA IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies and ABA Technology Director Greg Galloway on a number of issues, including an update regarding ongoing development on IndieCommerce and IndieLite, and a status report on IndieBound.
  • Received an update on ABFE’s work on behalf of free expression issues and in support of First Amendment rights from ABA Director of ABFE, Advocacy and Public Policy David Grogan.
  • And, as it does at each meeting, the Board members shared titles that they had recently read with interest and enjoyment. These included:

    • Robert Sindelar: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan and Deep River by Karl Marlantes
    • Jamie Fiocco: The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy by Paige Williams and (in audiobook) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle
    • Kenny Brechner: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon; These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Starling; and The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee
    • Kelly Estep: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane and Any Other Place: Stories by Michael Croley
    • Bradley Graham: American Prison by Shane Bauer and Punishment Without Crime by Alexandra Natapoff
    • Kris Kleindienst: Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib; Heavy by Kiese Laymon; We Can’t Breathe by Jabari Asim; Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken; and The Travelers by Regina Porter
    • Chris Morrow: Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    • Pete Mulvihill: American Overdose by Chris McGreal, and Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis
    • Christine Onorati: Good Talk by Mira Jacob; Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky; and SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Annie Philbrick: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead; Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl; and Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
    • Angela Maria Spring: Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes and Trust Exercise by Susan Choi 
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