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Director’s Desk: The Heart of IBPA

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by Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association —

Angela Bole

CEO Angela Bole explains how representing diverse voices and topics is at the heart of Independent Book Publishers Association.

The title story of the July/August 2018 IBPA Independent magazine, “Getting There: Why Indie Publishers are Well-Positioned to Satisfy the Need for Diverse Voices,” rests close to my heart … and close to IBPA’s ethos, generally. Inclusivity is a founding principle of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), instilled in the association during its founding more than 30 years ago, and something that’s been important to me since as far back as I can remember, but certainly since I first studied Audre Lorde as an undergrad at Indiana University Bloomington.

In “Sisterhood and Survival” Lorde wrote:

“I am a black feminist lesbian poet, and I identify myself as such because if there is one other black feminist lesbian poet in isolation somewhere within the reach of my voice, I want her to know she is not alone. I have been teaching the poems of Angelina Weld Grimke recently, another black lesbian poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Thanks to the work of women like Gloria Hull, Barbara Smith, Pat Bell-Scott, Erlene Stenson, and others, her work is once more becoming available to us. But it has been lost for many years to me. And I often think of her, dying alone in an apartment in New York City in 1958, while I was a young black lesbian, in isolation not too far away, and I think of what it could have meant in terms of sisterhood and survival for each one of us to have known of the other’s existence, for me to have had her words, and for her to have known I needed them. That we are not alone.”

What it could have meant in terms of sisterhood and survival…

In the IBPA Independent article, “Getting There,” author Douglas Manuel touches on this idea when he describes his best reader. “When I say best reader, I mean the person … who felt alone before they read my work; I mean the person who saw herself/himself/themselves in my work ….”

This is an incredibly powerful description of why. Why write. Why publish. Why make every effort to ensure that the stories written and published today represent not just diverse topics, but diverse voices, as well. It’s an honor to know that independent publishing, the field we’ve all come to work in, is a forerunner in this effort.

IBPA presented “Opportunity Cost: Why Diversity is Financially Critical for the Book Industry” on May 30, 2018, at BookExpo 2018. Developed for publishing and retail decision makers, the panel featured Brooke Warner (She Writes Press, IBPA board chair), Chris Jackson (One World/Random House), Jason Low (Lee & Low), and Ayesha Pande (Ayesha Pande Literary) in a discussion of how all parties in publishing, big and small, can benefit socially and financially from diversity.

Still, we must all acknowledge there is more work to do. It is for this reason that IBPA will continue to sponsor conversations about the need for greater inclusivity within the publishing industry and why our book award program will continue to shine light on voices and stories cut out of the mainstream conversation.

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.

If you are interested in reading more about diversity in publishing, check out this IBPA Independent article: Diversity Resources To Connect Authors from Underrepresented Communities with Publishers

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