Inside the November 2010 Board Meeting
For a brief moment during their November meeting, board members sat still and I took this picture. They’re shown in a conference room at Ingram’s headquarters.—Davida Breier
Top row (l-to-r): Dan Snow (Unlimited Publishing, LLC), Mitch Muncy (Alexander Hamilton Society), Dr. Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press), Terry Nathan (IBPA executive director/secretary), Carlene Sippola (Whole Person Associates; board chair), John Mutter (Shelf Awareness), Lisa Krebs (IBPA assistant director), Steve Mettee (The Write Thought; board treasurer), and Roy Carlisle (The Independent Institute). Bottom row (l-to-r): Stephanie Stewart (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Ltd.), Nancy Stewart (Ingram), Dave Marx (Passporter Travel Press), and Florrie Binford Kichler (IBPA president). Not pictured: Davida G. Breier (Johns Hopkins University Press, and the photographer), Jeanne Kramer (National Book Network), Patti Phillips (ROI Institute, Inc.), and Robert Rosenwald (Poisoned Pen Press).
In my report about the August board meeting (October), I shared with you IBPA’s strategic plan for 2010–2011. I am pleased to report that the IBPA staff and board have been working hard to achieve the goals outlined in the plan. Here’s a quick progress report.
This remains a challenge for the organization. One of the strategies we implemented in the past several months involved calling people who had let their membership lapse. Both staff and board members made these calls.
There was good news and bad news. The bad news was, we didn’t recapture most of those memberships. The good news, however, is that we learned a lot. We learned that almost all the members we lost over the past several years didn’t quit IBPA because of dissatisfaction; they just weren’t in publishing any longer.
This is not a new phenomenon. In healthy economic times, the normal churn for nonprofits is around 25 percent. That number goes up in financially challenging times, so IBPA’s challenge is to gain more members than we are “naturally” losing. How can we do this? After discussing the issue at the board meeting, we agreed that the following steps are important for increasing our membership:
● Revamp our membership renewal process, making it easier and more attractive for members to renew.
● Communicate more clearly and aggressively about the savings from partnerships with industry vendors that are available to IBPA members and that can easily cover the costs of membership.
● Reach out to the broader publishing community, where more and more self-published authors are emerging and in need of our services to grow their publishing companies.
● Make sure potential members understand the incredible value an IBPA membership gives them—discounts, education, networking, cooperative marketing programs, advocacy, and much more.
Building membership will continue to be a priority for the staff and board, and we hope you will join us in the mission to recruit new members.
We have been exploring the possibility of adding an educational event on the West Coast. When Terry surveyed our members in the western part of the country about the possibility, the response rate was very high, and the overwhelming response was YES! We are leaning toward hosting a retreat-style event that would allow attendees to network and engage in discussions with one another.
A Publishing Retreat in the West would in no way, shape, or form replace the Publishing University we offer in conjunction with BEA. As a matter of fact, we assume that many of you who already regularly attend Pub-U in New York would also be interested in a West Coast event.
We have scheduled the first IBPA Publishing Retreat West for February 2012. The exact dates and location will be announced later. The staff is already hard at work exploring venues, themes, speakers, and programs. Terry is also in communication with our affiliates on the West Coast to explore possible collaborations and to avoid conflicts with other educational events.
At the same time, the staff and the Education focus group are planning for the May 2011 Pub-U. Watch for announcements in the Independent and on our Web site.
In addition to providing Publishing Universities, IBPA will continue to offer monthly Publishing University Online events. Watch for Lisa’s e-blasts announcing the upcoming seminars. You can also go to ibpa-online.org and watch archived programs. These programs give you a great way to keep up with the latest information on marketing, production, legal issues, and business organization.
Our exciting new partnership with Ingram has several parts (see “President’s Post” for details on three of them).
A cooperative marketing program uses an e-catalog called The Independent Voice that will be distributed through Ingram to 10,000 book retailers, 14,000 librarians, and 4,000 international accounts bimonthly.
It works just like our other cooperative marketing programs. For a fee, your book(s) will be listed in the digital catalog. You will have opportunities to highlight your titles on the front cover and in other callout locations.
Ingram’s longstanding relationship with booksellers and librarians should make this new marketing program a big success.
IBPA is also partnering with Ingram to give our members special discounts with Lightning Source, access to an IBPA-branded color spread in Ingram’s monthly print publication (Advance), and easier access to its wholesale distribution system.
The staff has been working for months to put this new marketing program and benefit package together for you. I hope you give all or some of its opportunities a try. We are very appreciative to Ingram for them.
One of the highlights of our latest board meeting, held in Nashville, was a tour of both Lightning Source Inc. and Ingram Book Company, which are located just outside Nashville in LaVergne, TN. Board member Nancy Stewart, lead buyer at Ingram Book Company, graciously arranged for us to visit both facilities, and I think I speak for the entire board in saying we were blown away.
Both facilities are incredibly neat and clean, and run with precision in a relaxed atmosphere. It is apparent that Lightning Source’s number one concern is putting out a superior product. The prepress department takes great care to make sure that every book file sent from a publisher is looked at and, if necessary, tweaked before sending it on to be printed.
The streamlined process at the Ingram Book Company warehouse is equally impressive. My favorite part was watching the pickers, who are outfitted with headsets that give them verbal cues, wind through the aisles loading their carts with books for an order. Each book is scanned, verbally acknowledged, and put in the cart. Once the order is complete, it gets put in a bin that goes onto a conveyer belt and winds its way to the appropriate shipping area. Anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 books are shipped each day from the LaVergne warehouse.
After the tours, we were treated to a delicious lunch and joined by Skip Prichard, president and CEO of Ingram Content Group. He and all the Ingram employees we encountered that morning were truly grateful for our visit. They value the work IBPA is doing and want to work with us in any way they can to help independent publishers succeed.
Going Strong; Growing Stronger
So, I’m happy to report that IBPA continues to work hard for you. I believe the strategic partners we are engaging are making IBPA stronger. But we’ll get stronger yet with your involvement. Invite your colleagues to become members; attend our educational events; try one of our marketing programs; and share your expertise with others. Together, we will continue to help independent publishing flourish.
I’ll be waiting to hear from you. You can reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.