Your new board of directors met for the first time recently near the PMA office in Manhattan Beach, California. What a dynamic group! The directors bring energy, creativity, a passion for publishing, and unfailing wit to the table–not to mention a couple of hundred years of collective experience making and marketing books.
Outgoing president Don Tubesing likened his experience presiding over this group to herding cats. After moderating my first meeting, with its ambitious, project-heavy agenda that brought us together for three working sessions in 44 hours, I saw myself playing something more like the role of a “stuffer” in the Tokyo subway–the transit employee who pushes passengers onto crowded cars during rush hours, trying to keep everything on schedule.
Here are some highlights from our meeting.
2005 Publishing University
More than 50 percent of the courses will be new at the PMA Publishing University next spring in New York City. Although most of the course materials will be designed for the startups and small presses that constitute 90 percent of PMA’s membership, a new conference-within-a-conference will provide content exclusively for midsized publishers with 100 or more titles. Many of these publishers joined PMA as startups and have matured with the association over the past 20 years.
PMA also is examining new ways to deliver training and professional development courses through the Web site and in multimedia online conferences. You’ll be hearing more about this exciting project.
Jonathan Kirsch, who provides legal counsel to PMA on a pro bono basis, joined us for a discussion of how the association can help members deal with questionable and possibly illegal industry practices such as the rebinding operation at Sagebrush, the Minnesota company that buys original paperbacks, rebinds them with more durable covers for the library market, and–here’s the problem–puts its own ISBNs on the library editions. When editions began appearing on Amazon.com in competition with the publisher’s original editions, they raised a howl of protest. (See the August 16 issue of Publishers Weekly.)
While PMA cannot involve itself directly in litigation challenging certain industry practices that harm our members, the board has committed the organization to provide advocacy and leadership in looking for solutions to these problems, which are often difficult for publishers to deal with on an individual basis. More about this later.
Twenty-nine regional associations throughout North America are PMA affiliates. Because the affiliates, like PMA, offer support networks for independent publishers, executive director Jan Nathan and the board of directors feel a strong commitment to support them. Existing programs include grants and scholarships to the annual publishing conference. Now, the board is looking at a possible third program–training for affiliate leaders in organization building, fund raising, and other skills needed at the regional level.
Everyone agrees that, even though it’s increasingly well known industry-wide, the name Publishers Marketing Association no longer adequately conveys the mission and goals of PMA. Our association goes well beyond marketing. Deciding to make a change is easy. Agreeing on a new name is not. But we’ve decided this is a priority. If you have ideas, email them to Jan Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Special Interest Group, for academic / education publishers, was formed in August. Initially, some 400 publishers were invited to join, and within a day or two nearly 50 publishers had opted in to a Web-based discussion group where members will share publishing experiences, new ideas, and problem-solving techniques. Interested in joining? Email the volunteer moderator, Mary Ellen Lepionka of Atlantic Path Publishing, at email@example.com. More SIG groups will be formed soon.
The board had a long, productive discussion about what, if any, industry research the association should undertake or sponsor. The consensus was that PMA can make a valuable contribution to independent publishing with carefully selected research topics. Speaking of research, within the next year PMA will conduct telephone interviews with a random sampling of its members to find out more about you and how we may serve you better.
PMA is in good shape financially. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004, the not-for-profit association reported total revenues of $1.95 million, against expenses of $1.82 million.
These are your board members and officers:
Peter Bannon, Sports Publications, Champaign, IL
Florrie Binford Kicheler, Patria Press, Carmel, IN
Marianne Bohr, National Book Network, Lanham, MD
Larry Bram, Teaching Technologies, Washington, DC
Elise Cannon, Publishers Group West, Berkeley, CA
W. Paul Coates, Black Classics Press, Baltimore, MD
David Cole, Bay Tree Publishing, Berkeley, CA
Rod Colvin, Addicus Books, Omaha, NE
Jan Nathan, Jan Nathan & Associates, Manhattan Beach, CA (executive director/secretary)
Sally Neher, Baker & Taylor, Bridgewater, NJ
William L. Russell, Entre Publications Inc., Houston, TX
Rudy Shur, Square One Publishers, Garden City, NY
Carlene Sippola, Whole Person Associates, Duluth, MN
Kent Sturgis, Epicenter Press Inc., Kenmore, WA (president)
Don Tubesing, Pfeiffer-Hamilton, Placitas, NM (immediate past president)
Mike Vezo, Westcom Associates, Redondo Beach, CA (treasurer)
Director email addresses are available at www.pma-online.org.
I welcome your comments. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.