Looking Forward, Looking Back


With this issue, I happily and proudly assume the editorship of the IOBA’s (long neglected) Standard. And with our first new installment in more than two years, we also begin the tenth volume of The Standard, one that unveils what I hope will be only the beginning of many improvements to our august publication. But as with many things, before we can go forward, it helps to look back.

In the last two years, the IOBA has matured. Where in years past our membership directory did not always reflect current information, our rolls are now accurate. Though it appeared for a time that our numbers are shrinking, membership has stabilized and again begun to grow. Renewal efforts have been streamlined. And through the continued efforts of the Membership Committee (on which in the interest of full disclosure I serve), requirements and standards for admittance to our organization have been raised and enforced, resulting in a stronger IOBA. A mentorship program has been put in place to nurture upcoming booksellers. Committees are more established, members more involved. IOBAbooks.com has been launched. In short, I suspect that when the history of the IOBA is written, these last couple of years will be seen as a turning point where our rather ad-hoc group became a more established institution, one with its own particular culture and strengths. This progress is in no small part the results of the leadership of both our former and current president – Shawn Purcell and Karin Isgur Bergsagel – as well as countless hours of work from dozens of volunteer members.

One unfortunate casualty of these more important and pressing priorities, however, has been our quarterly newletter, The IOBA Standard. For the last two plus years it has been – unofficially and for a variety of reasons (some of them admittedly my own) – on extended hiatus. This is a shame, as The Standard was in many ways the public face of the IOBA and its best source of promotion and publicity. It is therefore with great pleasure that I introduce the redesigned and revamped Standard.

The first and most evident improvement is the design. The Standard has been moved to a WordPress system. This will allow for a more streamlined and simple publication process and make any future upgrades or redesigns significantly easier. Indeed, the fairly basic design and functionality you currently see here will continue to be improved as we go along. I welcome comments and suggestions for continued improvements. In addition, right now, only the past three issues (comprising most of Volume IX) are online in the new format. Other past issues will be added in reverse chronological order on an ongoing basis. And in the meantime the complete archive is available (and will continue for the foreseeable future to be available) here.

The second and less obvious improvement to The Standard is a regular editorial staff and group of contributing writers. I have tried to gather a diverse group, representing both newer and more established dealers, both men and women, from a variety of locales and specializing in a variety of books. It is my hope that this group of regular participants will bring a new vitality and authority to The Standard. In order to keep this foreword as brief as possible, I will introduce the staff fuller detail with our next issue. But in the meantime, if you would like to get involved with writing and publishing The Standard, either in an on-going or short-term capacity, please get in touch. We would be happy to have you.

So we look to the future – a new design, new personnel. But we also for this issue look to the past. Many new members have joined over the last two years, a good portion of which I suspect, are under-aware of our newsletter. Likewise, for much of our membership, The Standard has perhaps faded from memory. This is why for this rebirth of The Standard, we have put together a “best-of” issue, gathering some of the most interesting and useful pieces The Standard has published since it began in 1999.

We also finally publish several articles and profiles that have been sitting in the pipeline during our unfortunate hiatus. I offer my apologies to these writers for the delay in their pieces appearing. They – and the other members of the IOBA – have my assurance that it will not happen again, that The Standard will assume a prominent role in our growing and increasingly vital group.

With appreciation to those who have contributed in the past and looking forward to what we’ll do in our coming issues,

Brian Cassidy – Editor, The IOBA Standard

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

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