PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2016
by Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”
These words, from Japanese scholar Kakuzo Okakura, ring true to me. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how people and organizations embrace change. In my personal life, it’s never the same day twice: I’m often asked to solve a new problem as soon as I sit at my desk each morning. There’s no use wishing it were different. It couldn’t be. Change or die, they say. So, each morning I adjust to new circumstances; I choose life.
But that’s personal change. What about organizational change? From my vantage point, for example, it seems the very definition of a membership organization is evolving before our eyes. With more than 3,000 members (and counting!), IBPA serves more publishing professionals than any other book trade association in the United States. We’re a big organization—a big ship—but we still need to change directions every now and again in order to address the evolving definition of professional publishing.
On a strategic level, IBPA is addressing the need for change in several ways. Members will see an increased focus on advocacy during the latter part of 2016, for example. And most of you already know that the board of directors is working to dress up our appearance with a modern redesign of the IBPA website and this Independent magazine.
I’ve always believed the most important way an association can affect positive change in its community is by working closely with its members on the projects that mean the most to them. Traditionally, a trade association is either staff-driven or volunteer-driven. A new model is emerging, however, based on being “work-plan-driven.” Under this model, associations engage volunteer committees to help develop and drive a plan of work for specific high-profile projects. By incorporating the varying perspectives of members through this committee process, an association can be certain that approved plans address the real-time needs of the community, as well as the skills and availability of the staff. It’s a win-win.
Given the success of the board, comprised of a highly dedicated group of volunteers, we see potential in tapping deeper into the expertise of our general membership. This is why we are launching at least two new member committees in 2016.
First up is an Editorial Advisory Committee, which will assist in providing content and themes for the Independent. This all-volunteer committee will help develop content ideas and identify subject matter experts, as well as advise on how well the overall direction of the magazine continues to meet the needs of an evolving independent publishing community.
Next on deck is a Member Benefits Committee, which will oversee the portfolio of IBPA member benefits, ensuring that all benefits endorsed by IBPA are attractive and helpful to independent publishers and self-published authors. Twice per year, the committee will recommend a slate of new, revised, and disbanded member benefits to IBPA’s board of directors for review. Following the board’s approval, IBPA’s official Membership Benefits Handbook will be updated.
Change or die, they say. But, of course, changing without understanding the underlying culture can be detrimental to a community. This is why the Editorial Advisory Committee and the Member Benefits Committee will play such an important part in the future of IBPA. By tapping into our membership base through key volunteer groups like these, the IBPA staff can truly connect with your needs and ensure that the association is making the right moves. I, for one, am excited to get the process started. Will you join me?
If you are interested in serving on a volunteer committee in 2016, contact IBPA CEO and executive director Angela Bole at email@example.com or 310-546-1818.
Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Executive Director, 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.