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Directors Desk: A Look at the IBPA Annual Meeting of Members

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by Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association —

Angela Bole

IBPA members gathered virtually on April 7, 2021, from 10 a.m. to noon Pacific for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Members. Here’s a brief snapshot of what happened.

State of the Association

In my “State of the Association” remarks, I discussed, IBPA’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values imparting the importance of reviewing these foundational statements
at least once a year

I also reviewed membership numbers. IBPA membership grew 17% from January 2020 to March 2021. Membership fluctuates day to day, but it has held above 3,700 for several months.

IBPA’s financials have also held strong this past year. Although the pandemic resulted in less revenue (no trade shows, etc.), this also meant less cost of goods (no trade show expenses, etc.). In addition, IBPA was able to control expenses so that the association remained on solid financial footing all year and was even able to add $75K to the association’s investments.

Committee Reports

As part of the meeting, IBPA committee chairs presented highlights of their work in fiscal year 2021 (being July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021).

Richard Lena (Brattle Publishing Group), treasurer of the IBPA Board of Directors and chair of the IBPA Investment Committee, discussed the Investment Committee first. Lena shared the committee’s goals, covering operating expenses, program funding, and focusing in particular on IBPA’s overall investment strategy, which was shifted this year to be “more in line with [IBPA’s] socially responsible policies,” he said.

Mel Corrigan (Scribe Publishing Company), chair of the IBPA Advocacy Committee, discussed the committee’s work next. Corrigan shared the three priorities the Advocacy Committee focused on in the last year: 1) advocating for access to all aspects of the book trade; 2) protecting copyright; and 3) promoting a more diverse, inclusive publishing industry.

Alexa Schlosser (Managing Editor, IBPA Independent magazine), chair of the IBPA Editorial Advisory Committee, discussed the work the committee puts into developing the bimonthly IBPA Independent magazine. Schlosser spoke of wanting the magazine to include many “takeaway tips,” welcomed member feedback, and encouraged members to submit stories for the magazine.

Finally, Kelly Peterson (Independent Publishers Group), member of the IBPA Board of Directors and chair of the IBPA Member Benefits Committee, discussed the committee’s work, highlighting new benefits added in the past year and a newscoring metric for member benefit proposals.

IBPA Board Member Election

After words of appreciation to the board members whose terms expire on June 30, 2021—Rob Broder (Ripple Grove Press), Seth Dellon (Publishers Weekly), Richard Lena (Brattle Publishing), and Rudy Shur (Square One Publishers)—and previous board member Kathy Strahs (Burnt Cheese Press), the seven at-large candidates for nomination to the IBPA Board to each shared their objective or goal for joining (or renewing their participation on) the IBPA Board of Directors. The seven candidates were:

After comments from the seven candidates, the membership in attendance began placing their votes. At the end of the meeting, all candidates were approved.

‘Future Outlook’ Remarks by IBPA Board Chair Karla Olson

While the membership vote occurred, Olson, in her position as IBPA Board chair, gave her Future Outlook remarks. She opened by saying, “I’ve learned and grown so much this past year.” She offered thanks and tributes to the outgoing board members and welcomed Tieshena Davis (Publish Your Gift) who took Dayna Anderson’s (formerly of CamCat Publishing) vacated seat on the board in July 2020.

Olson thanked the IBPA staff, highlighting some of the many adjustments to the new normal, including pulling off this year’s fully virtual IBPA Publishing University conference.

Olson reflected on the reckoning of racial injustice, the inequity within publishing, and “the power small presses have to challenge the system, proving it is economically viable to amplify voices” that previously haven’t been heard. She spoke of IBPA’s DEI Strategic Plan and the DEI
Task Force’s work that went into creating it. Finally, she invited members to apply for the DEI Committee to help IBPA to a place where “the DEI lens is so endemic to our work … it is no longer necessary.”

Speaking of the line between free speech and hate speech, Olson said, “We, at IBPA, must be on the forefront of the discussion.” Olson also discussed pandemic opportunities, such as distribution returns and the ways readers discover books; alternative commerce sites; and of the cachet indie film and indie rock have, offering us the challenge to create the “same cachet for
indie books.” Olson also expressed excitement about B&N’s customized curation for each store. Olson ended her address by encouraging members to help with these initiatives and sharing ways how, including by participating in IBPA’s annual member survey, which will launch this June.

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