Your board of directors recently made a difficult decision regarding a name change for the Publishers Marketing Association as part of an effort to reposition PMA in the industry and to reflect the fact that its mission, while retaining a strong focus on marketing, today includes all other aspects of publishing as well.
Twenty years ago, a few dozen Southern California publishers, including some self-publishers, formed PMA to facilitate cooperative marketing and to share ideas about how to get publicity for books. At first, as some of you may remember, the organization was called PASCAL (for Publishers Association of Southern California).
Today, with a North American membership of 4,000, PMA still runs a wide assortment of cooperative marketing programs, and they’re nationwide. Its Publishing University has become our industry’s premier training conference, with a curriculum that includes three days of presentations and discussions delving into all aspects of publishing, from business to acquisition and editorial, design, and production, and the all-important marketing. The organization has far exceeded the goals of its original members, becoming the eyes, ears, and, most important, the voice of independent book publishing.
Our new name is:
The Independent Book Publishers Association
Having discussed the name-change issue inconclusively through most of 2004 and sought advice from PMA affiliates, the board finally approved the new name but linked it to the old acronym. What this means is that references to “Publishers Marketing Association” will disappear quietly and “PMA” will morph into a logo and design icon. The thinking is that while the association badly needs a new name, it makes no sense to throw away an acronym whose widespread industry recognition took two decades to achieve.
Directors debated whether to include “book” in the new name. The decision was to do so, with the understanding that books include digital and audio editions.
Other developments at our most recent meeting:
Support for Environmentally Friendly Publishing
The board and staff decided to offer in-kind support to the Green Press Initiative (GPI) so that the nonprofit, nonpolitical organization can communicate directly to PMA publishers about recycling and options for environmentally friendly publishing. GPI will be given advertising space in the PMA Newsletter, a presence on the PMA Web site, exhibition space both at the Publishing University and at BEA, and other assistance. The support will be reviewed in one year. Meanwhile, beginning with this issue, the PMA Newsletter will be printed on recycled paper.
GPI hopes to persuade PMA member publishers to join the more than 120 U.S. and Canadian publishers who have pledged to work, over the next three to five years, toward specific goals for increasing use of recycled paper stock with high post-consumer content and chlorine-free processing.
Meanwhile, congratulations to Thomson-Shore, which in November became the first U.S. book printer to commit to a GPI-backed goal of increasing its use of recycled papers with 100 percent post-consumer content to 25 percent of its total volume in the short term, and more long term.
To find out more about GPI, visit www.GreenPressInitiative.org and see last month’s President’s Report, available at www.pma-online.org.
The board approved an ambitious plan to research industry issues through 2006. Research findings will be released in a series of eight quarterly reports, the first four of which will be prepared by Thomas Woll of Cross River Publishing Consultants, under contract to PMA. The first of these will focus on selling books online, and the second will focus on sales representation and distribution options for independent publishers, updating a report that Woll prepared for PMA in 2000.
Look for still more improvements in the PMA Newsletter, which you have ranked the number-one benefit of membership. The board applauded the work of Judith Appelbaum, publishing consultant and author of the classic How to Get Happily Published, who, under PMA contract, has initiated many improvements in the past few years. We invited her to offer recommendations for more and discussed the possibility of arranging for a journalist to report regularly on timely issues of interest to independent book publishers. Other enhancements may be coming soon too. Stay tuned.
The board approved a new relationship with Los Angles attorney Jonathan Kirsch, an expert in intellectual property law who has provided pro bono legal counsel to the association for 21 years. Executive Director Jan Nathan recommended that PMA seek more of a professional relationship with Kirsch, including a formal retainer, so that the association will feel no constraints about pursuing its goal of being a more proactive advocate for members. It’s not that PMA wants to, or legally can, take the initiative or involve itself in civil lawsuits over publishing disputes. Far from it. But PMA does recognize that the association, on occasion, can seek legal analysis and advice for its members and help broker solutions to common problems.
I welcome your comments on these and any other PMA initiatives and issues. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officers and Directors
Kent Sturgis, Epicenter Press Inc., Kenmore, Washington (president)
Peter Bannon, Sports Publications, Champaign, Illinois (vice president)
Jan Nathan, Jan Nathan & Associates, Manhattan Beach, California (executive director/secretary)
Mike Vezo, Westcom Associates, Redondo Beach, California (treasurer)
Marianne Bohr, National Book Network, Lanham, Maryland
Larry Bram, Teaching Technologies, Washington, D.C.
Florrie Binford Kicheler, Patria Press, Carmel, Indiana
Elise Cannon, Publishers Group West, Berkeley, California
W. Paul Coates, Black Classics Press, Baltimore, Maryland
David Cole, Bay Tree Publishing, Berkeley, California
Rod Colvin, Addicus Books, Omaha, Nebraska
Sally Neher, Baker & Taylor, Bridgewater, New Jersey
William L. Russell, Entre Publications Inc., Houston, Texas
Carlene Sippola, Whole Person Associates, Duluth, Minnesota
Rudy Shur, Square One Publishers, Garden City, New York
Don Tubesing, Pfeiffer-Hamilton, Placitas, New Mexico (immediate past president)
Directors’ email addresses can be found at www.pma-online.org.