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Director’s Desk: A Clear Vision

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Thirty years ago, a group of 15 Southern California independent publishers who couldn’t afford to attend the American Booksellers Association’s annual conference decided to pool funds and send a single representative to the show. As many of you know, this trip was a triggering factor in the formation of the Independent Book Publishers Association as a professional trade group in service to independent publishers nationwide.

The independent publishing landscape has changed a great deal in the past 30 years and no one could anticipate how big an association like IBPA might become. The answer, I’m happy to say, is quite big. Today, IBPA’s more than 3,100 members make it the largest book publishing association in the United States. This is exciting, to be sure, but we can do more. IBPA leadership is working hard to position the association for further growth in an effort to positively impact more independent publishers.

Part of this work includes revisiting the IBPA mission statement and formulating an approved vision for the future. I first addressed the board’s work toward crafting the association’s first-ever vision statement in my October 2015 Director’s Desk titled, “What Your Board Is Up To” (ibpa-online.org/article/what-your-board-is-up-to/):

“You start to understand the importance of a vision statement when you recall the inventor’s credo: You can’t create what you can’t imagine. This short declaration expresses the long-term change that should result from your company’s existence. In other words, the best vision statement is a clear and inspirational description of the overall benefit your company will bring to the world. Vision statements should be specific enough to say something about what you will do and also what you will not do.”

When I wrote that, the board was at the beginning of its process, and I couldn’t say what the final vision statement would be. It simply hadn’t been developed yet. Now, however, after five months of discussion and consideration, I’m pleased to unveil IBPA’s new vision, approved during the January 2016 board of directors meeting and coupled here with our long-standing mission:

  • Mission Statement: To lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.
  • Vision Statement: A world where every independent publisher has the tools and knowledge needed to professionally engage in all aspects of the publishing industry.

The approved vision won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve followed IBPA over the years. IBPA has long favored, and worked hard to achieve, a level playing field for anyone interested in becoming involved in the business of publishing. While the conglomerate publishers will always have some advantages, independent publishers must certainly have access to distribution, fair terms, and a chance to present their books to trade buyers, librarians, and consumers alike.

Of course, IBPA can promise only opportunity. We can provide the tools and knowledge needed to professionally engage with the publishing industry, but we can’t promise success. It’s up to individual publishers to define what success means to them and make the most of what they can from the opportunities IBPA opens for them. It’s a partnership. It always has been.
IBPA members stand out within the ranks of independent publishers based on their profound passion for the work, as well as their commitment to excellence and professionalism in the field. I can’t wait to see what we achieve as we come together as a single community with focus and determination.

Here’s to your success!

About the Author

Bole-200Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Executive Director, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business. Before that, Angela served for two years as BISG’s Associate Director and two years as its Marketing and Communications Manager. Angela also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum.

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