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The Tool Chest: IBPA at Your Fingertips

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At my very first board meeting, I discovered a project in need of a hardheaded geek. That should practically be on my business cards, so I nominated myself for the “deal with the Web site” committee.

The Web site had overgrown its organizational structure and also needed a bit of a makeover. I spent a few months looking at the existing site, analyzing similar sites, and speaking with Web designers, Web hosts, and software companies.

To be honest, I had some selfish motivations. I often use the Independent to educate new staff members at work, to teach classes, and to refer back to when I suddenly need to know about newfangled things like QR codes. But the Independent archive has grown considerably over the years. The old search features made finding articles difficult, and there was so much information that it was hard to use the archives to confirm information or answer questions.

Also, I learned from the site, but too late, that I could have received a particular discount as a benefit of membership.

I wanted all this information at my fingertips. You’d think that someone with what sounds like inherent laziness issues would have picked a smaller project, wouldn’t you? Please see “hardheaded” above.

What’s in the Works

A Web site as large as IBPA’s is a bit like a house: there are many rooms, but everything has to flow together to avoid ending up like the Winchester Mystery House. We had to inspect everything, including the foundation, and decide which walls were coming down, where we were expanding, and even what the curtains would look like.

We also wanted to plan for the growth of our publishing family, which fills the heart of the house. We wanted places for people to learn, hang out, participate, and engage. We wanted a welcome mat that extended to publishers across the Internet, letting them know that we are here to support them.

Our inspection revealed that we need to do a better job telling you, our members, about all our benefits, programs, and offerings, and that is a primary goal of the redesign. You’ll be able to access information about the benefits and marketing programs with much greater ease. We’ll also make renewing easier. You’ll have additional options for renewal too, and you’ll be able to access more details about your participation in IBPA programs and your membership record.

One of the other main goals is to better utilize the amazing collection of knowledge contained in the Independent’s back issues. There are currently more than 2,000 articles in the archive, and we are taking special care to create subject groupings and to tag each one, so I doubt we’ll have that section of the site completed by the time you read this. But when the work is done, it should provide an excellent resource for publishers at all levels (if you have new staff members or an intern, this is a great place to get them started).

We are also planning a forum area for members only, where you will be able to communicate with other members—asking for and giving advice and information (or even just shouting “Yippee!” when a book of yours is mentioned on NPR). One of the best parts about being an IBPA member is access to a community of independent publishers. The site’s forum area will be an extension of our in-person events.

We are a membership organization, and the Web site exists for you, our members. We plan to expand our digital presence in the coming years, so if you have comments about what would be useful to you on our site, we would love to get them.

If you haven’t been to the IBPA Web site in a while, please come visit at ibpa-online.org.

P.S.: As print requires greater lead time than the Web, I am submitting this article while we are still in the midst of renovations. If we aren’t fully ready for guests by the time you read it, please bear with us. The curtains will look lovely once hung.

Davida G. Breier joined the IBPA board in 2010. She works for Johns Hopkins University Press, running its distribution division, HFS. To reach her, email dgb@press.jhu.edu.

 

 

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