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by Florrie Binford Kichler

Three Things to Celebrate

As I write this, we are fresh from a successful Publishing University in Los Angeles and a busy and productive BEA. A special feature of this year’s activities was our official 25th anniversary celebration, kicked off at the annual meeting held midway through the University, continuing at the Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony, and culminating in a huge birthday party on the floor of BEA.

It was my privilege to make three special announcements during the Benjamin Franklin Awards program on May 29 in honor of your association’s 25 years of service to independent publishers. Two of these related to items I touched on briefly in a previous column that are worthy of additional mention. The other will have a significant impact on your association’s mission and vision going forward. For the benefit of those of you who were unable to be with us at the Benjamin Franklin Awards, here’s what I said.

A Scholarship Honoring Jan Nathan

I am delighted to announce the creation of the Jan Nathan Scholarship, honoring our visionary and long-serving executive director, who passed away in June 2007. This scholarship will celebrate Jan’s legacy by fostering professional small and independent publishing through education. It will take the form of a yearly $4,000 grant of cash and in-kind benefits to a member of our association in good standing who is working in the publishing business. The grant will be used for enrollment in the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.

Our association has had a long friendship with Stanford, and Jan graduated from Stanford University, so the choice of Stanford is most appropriate. I’d like to thank the director of the Stanford Publishing Course, Holly Brady, for working with us to make this scholarship a reality.

Watch for details regarding eligibility and application information—the first recipient will be announced at Publishing University next year. The scholarship will be funded by current and ongoing contributions to the existing Jan Nathan Memorial Fund, and I’d like to thank all those who have contributed to that fund in Jan’s memory.

A New Award

Next, I’m happy to announce the creation of the Jan Nathan Award. The purposes of this award are:

to honor Jan Nathan’s memory and her contributions to independent book publishing

to recognize outstanding contributions to independent publishing by individuals and companies

The winner will clearly represent the principles and values most important to Jan, and will demonstrate the invincible and generous spirit that Jan brought not just to her industry but to her life. The winner may be, but is not limited to, a publisher, publishing company, or a member of the association, and may be recognized for a single recent accomplishment or a series of accomplishments measured over a number of years.

The award will be accompanied by a cash prize of $5,000 to be donated to a charity of the winner’s choice. Immediately after BEA, we will be appointing a selection committee to finalize criteria and the nomination form, and we will present the first Jan Nathan Award in 2009.

The New Name

And now for our final announcement. Almost four years ago, under the guidance of Jan Nathan and President Kent Sturgis, the board of directors, after months of discussion, consultation with others inside and outside the association, and serious thought, voted to change our name to PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association. Why? As Kent Sturgis wrote at the time, “to reflect the fact that [our] mission, while retaining a strong focus on marketing, today includes all other aspects of publishing as well.”

Kent went on to write:

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.

Thanks to those prescient publishers who had the foresight to create the Publishers Marketing Association 25 years ago, thanks to the many boards who generously gave their time and support through the years, and thanks to the incomparable leadership of Jan Nathan, our association is recognized as the “voice of independent publishing.” Not only do we continue to provide marketing support and education to our members, but we have added industry advocacy to our mission in order to take a leadership role in positively influencing the publishing industry for the benefit of independent publishers everywhere.

We are independent publishers—and our association exists to support a thriving, vibrant, and strong independent publishing community. To best serve our members, and all independent publishers, our name needs to reflect who we are and leave no doubt about why we exist.

PMA is our history and our legacy—it will live on in our logo, and we are discussing ways to use it as an imprint going forward. Our new name is our future, which would not be possible without the vision of our remarkable executive director Jan Nathan, but most especially of those publishers who, 25 years ago, banded together to help each other succeed.

Our association’s mission is to advocate for, support, and educate our members and to improve the standards of independent publishing. Webster defines independent as “not subject to control by others, self-governing.” We are a trade association of publishers who are not part of a huge conglomerate—we own and run our own businesses. That is who we are, that is what we do, and that is the community our association is here to support.

The new name leaves no doubt as to that mission.

Therefore, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary of serving independent publishers, I am excited, honored, and pleased to announce that from this day forward, our association will be known as the Independent Book Publishers Association, IBPA.

My virtual door is always open. Please share your comments, thoughts, and ideas by emailing me at fkichler@patriapress.com.




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