Jan Nathan, the Executive Director of the Independent Book Publishers Association since its beginning in 1983, passed away June 17, 2007 after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 68.
Initially, Nathan had been President of Manhattan Publishing Company (creating inflight magazines for regional commuter airlines). In 1983, just as she established Jan Nathan & Associates, a company to manage professional trade associations, a group of 15 Southern California publishers joined together to send Jan to the trade show of the American Booksellers Association, now called BookExpo America (BEA).
That group of 15 then formed Publishers Marketing Association (PMA), which was renamed the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in 2005. Bob Alberti, the second PMA President, remarked that when his predecessor turned over the reins, he said: “You have one charge. Keep Jan Nathan, no matter what it takes.”
As a champion for independent publishers she often reacted to the news of the day. When it came to her attention that a rebinder of books was assigning its own ISBN numbers to publishers’ books they were rebinding — and selling them into the library market without permission, Nathan took on the cause of hundreds of publishers affected. She involved PMA’s legal counsel and encouraged the media to pick up the story. Eventually the rebinding company bowed under the pressure and agreed to everything asked.
Although PMA was nearest and dearest to her heart, Nathan was concerned with all aspects of independent publishing. With the Small Press Center in New York City (now New York Center for Independent Publishing), she was integral in the formation of Small Press Week (March 24-30, 1996), now Small Press Month. Her passion for lifetime literacy and first amendment rights caused her to establish connections between PMA and other major trade groups, such as The Media Coalition and the Book Industry Study Group, for whom, at the time of her death, she served as Treasurer.
Born January 7, 1939, she grew up in Brooklyn and Freeport, NY and later attended Ithaca College and Stanford University. Nathan and her family moved from Massachusetts to Northern California in 1965, later relocating to Hermosa Beach in Southern California in 1973. Her love of the beach kept her there.
Nathan raised six boys virtually single-handedly and yet found time to pursue higher education and create a successful business that she leaves behind.