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Listening to Members’ Many Voices

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When PMA began in 1983, we knew that we would need to hear many different opinions and voices about the direction PMA should take in order to keep moving forward. One of our more difficult tasks was getting people to volunteer to serve on the association’s board, and one of our first achievements was finally having enough dollars in our coffers to be able to pay for board members’ travel expenses to and from the board meetings.

Originally, PMA was a California-only group, and board members met before regular meetings held in the L.A. area. Then the group grew beyond California, and because we wanted to be able to hear the voices from a wider area, the board meetings changed as well. Instead of just meeting prior to regular monthly meetings, the board had half-day meetings on its own. By this time, we had amassed a reserve large enough to allow us to invite people from throughout the PMA membership to join the board. Still, not many people volunteered to serve. But we always managed to have a very hard-working board of directors.

This year, when our nominating committee meets, we will have 40 or more names to consider for six or seven vacancies. And these candidates have such a variety of experience that it will be difficult to choose just the right people for the 2004/06 board. The nominating committee members look at the type of people continuing on the board (PMA replaces half the board members each year, so that there are always people on the board who offer continuity to the operating programs). They look at the size of a candidate’s company, the type of publishing the company represents, its geographic location, and a variety of other factors so that the PMA board will represent the full PMA membership. The decision of this committee will be presented to PMA members at our annual meeting during the luncheon on June 2 at the Publishing University in Chicago.

We have now gone from limited interest to an overabundance of nominations, which is fantastic. I know that the nominating committee, which is composed of all past presidents of PMA and four former PMA Board members, has a difficult job choosing the representatives, but it is a good “difficult”!

Especially for Textbook and Midsize Publishers

Other changes that will be happening within PMA as we continue to grow include the development of special interest groups, such as the one formed after a request from some of our textbook publishers, whose needs are quite different than the needs of traditional trade-book publishers. Some PMA members have volunteered to help establish the Special Interest Group for the Academic, Educational, Scholarly and Textbook Publishers. If you’re interested in obtaining more information about this and how you may be able to participate, please contact me via email at jan@pma-online.org, and I’ll forward your comments to the committee.

Another special interest group in the process of forming is geared to midsize publishers, who have some different needs than startup publishers. Peter Bannon is the board member coordinating this project. Again, if you are interested in working with this group, you can contact me at the e-mail address above, or you can communicate directly with Peter at pbannon@sportspublishingllc.com.

Now when the PMA board meets, it’s typically for two full days four times a year in person, and we have teleconferences whenever it’s deemed necessary. Our board members come from New York and California and states in between. We have small publishers, midsize publishers, and no more than three industry vendors on the board because we continue to recognize how important it is to hear all the voices within our industry. So many times, it seems as if publishers, authors, distributors, booksellers, and printers are working against, rather than with, each other.

Our industry will continue growing and staying healthy only as long as we listen and respond to all voices. The PMA board is taking one of the steps necessary to ensure that that happens.

Each time you meet with someone on the PMA board, I hope you take a moment to thank them for volunteering a good portion of their business time to make sure that your voice is heard and that the world of independent publishing continues to be the force it has become in our industry.

See you at the meeting in June and/or at PMA-U and on the floor at BEA in Chicago!


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