FROM THE BOARDROOM
Inside the February 2011 Board Meeting
by Carlene Sippola
CHAIR, IBPA BOARD
As yet another winter storm system swept through the eastern part of the country, the IBPA board met via phone conferencing and spent eight hours over a two-day period carrying out our board business.
The meeting began with reports from Florrie Kichler, president of IBPA, and Terry Nathan, our executive director. Both of them continue to do great work.
Here are just a few highlights of their reports.
Ink and Interaction
One of Florrie’s responsibilities as president is to be the organization’s spokesperson and to increase IBPA’s visibility in the publishing industry. She has done a wonderful job of maintaining and growing IBPA’s position as the authority representing independent publishing, as demonstrated most recently in articles in both the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly. For both of these, Florrie was interviewed and quoted on how changes in publishing and bookselling are affecting independent publishers.
Florrie also attended a meeting of publishing industry association leaders that included representatives from such major industry groups as the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the Association of American University Publishers (AAUP), the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Authors Guild. The meeting was called to discuss shared concerns—including concerns about piracy, technology upgrades, e-books, and member engagement—and it may become a regular event.
IBPA was also well represented at the recent Digital Book World conference in New York. Florrie hosted an IBPA exhibit table where she made contact with potential new members and advertisers, gathered ideas for future IBPA educational programs, and kept current on digital issues facing publishers today. Florrie attended the Tools of Change conference too, and IBPA was a sponsor.
And IBPA was involved in developing the surveys on industry statistics generated by BISG and AAP and known as BookStats. In the past, these two organizations published separate sets of annual sales figures in the industry. Now they are partnering to gather sales data from all industry segments.
Several of our board members were invited to weigh in on what kinds of information independent publishers would like to have. We are urging all members who have not yet responded to the surveys to respond now because, unfortunately, it’s all too easy for sales by independent publishers to be left out of industry counts (see “Well, Yes, I Suppose Smaller Houses Sell Some Books” in this issue). Thank you for doing your part.
Last but not least, Florrie reported on the recent Barnes & Noble downsizing, which involved Marcella Smith leaving the company. Marcella is not only a great friend of IBPA; as B&N’s director of Small Press & Vendor Relations, she was the person our members went to with book submissions and questions about their relationship with Barnes & Noble.
After hearing the downsizing news, Florrie asked for a meeting with Joe Gonnella, vice president of Adult Trade at B&N, to express her concerns on behalf of small presses. Subsequently, he issued a statement to IBPA stating that Barnes & Noble will continue to support independent publishing, and he provided contact information for the two individuals who are now responsible for small press submissions. Terry emailed this contact information to you on February 4. As a reminder, they are Eric Burger, Vendor Manager (212/633-3357; firstname.lastname@example.org) and Diane Simowski, Small Press Department (212/633-3549; email@example.com).
Progress on Projects
Terry’s report presented updates on an extensive list of projects the office is working on. Terry and Lisa Krebs not only manage all the ongoing cooperative marketing programs, our educational online programs, and a lot more; they spend much of their time on the phone with members, answering questions, listening to concerns, and offering guidance—an invaluable service we offer our membership.
Two major programs that need lots of attention this time of year are the Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Publishing University. Terry reported that both are moving along. We are looking forward to being at the heart of high-energy activities in conjunction with BEA.
Terry is quite excited about another project—the development of a new IBPA Web site. With the assistance of board member Davida Breier, we have moved closer to beginning development of a site that will be a tremendous asset to our membership.
Lisa reported that the first phase of our new mentor/Ask the Experts program will be up and running soon, beginning with Ask the Experts and progressing to a one-on-one mentoring program. Thank you for your patience with this. I think you will agree it was worth the wait.
News from the Focus Groups
Membership Focus Group. Membership growth and retention remain primary focuses. Many factors are involved in membership growth or lack of growth. Some we can control; others we can’t. What we can do is continually improve what we offer our members, including vendor benefits, educational programs, cooperative marketing programs, advocacy, and networking.
I believe we have improved in all these areas over the past several months. Check out the current vendor benefits at ibpa-online.org. Sign up for the brand-new benefits now available with Ingram marketing programs. Take part in the upcoming Publishing University (for more about that, see “Publishing University: A Contrarian View” in this issue).
By the way, thank you for being a member, and we encourage you to spread the word about IBPA.
Education Focus Group. Under the capable direction of board member Nancy Stewart, this focus group has been hard at work planning Publishing University 2011—our premier educational event. The workshops have been designed in response to what our members say they want.
I am particularly excited to announce a new component of the university. We are offering Ask the Experts sessions all day Monday, May 23. You will have the opportunity to sign up in advance for a one-on-one session with the expert of your choice. Please visit our Web site for details on how to take advantage of this tremendous offer. I hope to see many of you in May.
Benefits Focus Group. The purpose of this group is to evaluate vendor benefits offered to IBPA members. We are always looking for opportunities that you will find useful and that will provide financial savings. We’ve just added a few new ones to the mix, and we are reviewing several others. Make sure to check our site often to see what new opportunities are waiting for you.
Of course, it’s wise to remember that all the benefits won’t necessarily be useful to everyone. Please do your own review of each benefit before deciding to do a specific kind of business with a specific vendor.
It’s a Wrap
After further discussion about our cooperative marketing programs, our affiliate program, and what’s next on the horizon, we all agreed that our sore ears (and rears) could take no more, so we signed off.
Yes, being in two lengthy phone meetings is a challenge, but we were all up to the task. After all, the board meeting is just a time to reconnect and make sure we are all on track with our duties. The periods in between board meetings are when most of the work is done. Be assured your board is hard at work to keep IBPA the premier publishing association for independent publishers.