PUBLISHED AUGUST 2016
by Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association
In this issue of IBPA Independent, you’ll find a focus on innovation—something independent publishers need to think about every day in order to keep their heads above water as they navigate a competitive book industry.
Here at IBPA, we’re working hard to create new ideas, processes, and products. The goal being, of course, to positively impact our members’ businesses while providing them with more opportunities for networking and education. In last month’s Director’s Desk column, “Living Our Values,” I wrote a little about one of these initiatives: a new online presence for IBPA and its members. In this column, I’d like to write a bit more about this important project.
Why Launch a New Online Presence?
In today’s world, the way people connect, learn, purchase products, and share information is changing at a rapid pace. As a member of IBPA, you expect instant value and personalization from us across every channel and on every device … and we want to provide this to you.
Several months ago, we took a hard, honest look at our current website and considered its front-end structure and back-end functionality in terms of how we know people interact on the web today. Unfortunately, we weren’t satisfied with what we found.
In particular, we discovered that the front end isn’t mobile-optimized and, even if it were, there’s no clear way to know how to navigate all of the information presented so you’re placed on the path that’s most relevant to you.
When we got to the back end, we discovered that our member directory is hard to search and devoid of contact information that would make it truly useful as a networking tool. We also learned that the member management software doesn’t support social networking or discussion boards.
When we connect, we grow. In order to remain relevant to the majority of independent publishers working today, IBPA needs to offer its members the ability to build robust member profiles and the capacity to connect with each other across a seamless online networking platform.
Put another way, it’s no longer okay to be “one size fits all.” In support of this idea, here is something from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) that I have taped to the wall in my office as inspiration for the work IBPA does:
As a business model and a core value, membership is perhaps the defining quality of nonprofit trade associations and professional societies. And it’s more than just a bundle of benefits. To join an association is to become a member of a community, a place to belong, where like-minded people share knowledge and work together toward goals they couldn’t achieve alone. The ASAE study The Decision to Join found that the human desire for belonging remains strong, and members join associations equally motivated to improve themselves and their industries or communities. Demographic and technological change has driven the membership model to evolve, and 21st-century associations are breaking free of ‘one size fits all’ in favor of more varied membership options and more individualized opportunities for engagement.Meanwhile, advanced tools for data collection and analytics are giving associations new ways to recruit, retain, and engage their members.
IBPA needs to be part of the technological revolution. Our new online presence should take us several steps in the right direction.
How Will IBPA Members Benefit from Our New Online Presence?
IBPA members can look forward to several innovative features once the new website and back end member management system launch. In particular, members will be able to:
* choose a membership option tailored to the particular projects and services they’re interested in;
- easily connect, collaborate, and share across IBPA’s social community, expanding their network and developing lasting relationships;
- develop professionally through personally targeted online learning programs;
- access information, products, and services targeted to match their interests; and
- search an online directory of service providers active in the IBPA community.
I think you’ll agree the new platform provides a more dynamic, interactive means of networking within the IBPA community.
IBPA staff is working hard to learn the new system and transfer data from the old website. Our expected launch date is Oct. 31, 2016, and we can’t wait! If you have any feedback or questions for us as we’re ramping things up, I hope you’ll let me know. I am available, as always, at email@example.com, and I’m happy to help.
Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Chief Executive Officer, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business. Before that, Angela served for two years as BISG’s Associate Director and two years as its Marketing and Communications Manager.
Angela also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum.