Traditionally, newly elected IOBA Presidents started out the year with a message to the members. I was going to do that in this issue, but instead, I wound up writing an article on collecting which I think will be a lot more entertaining to read (I certainly enjoyed writing it!).
I will keep this brief, and try to avoid platitudes:
As a long time promoter of IOBA, I have been asked many times “why does IOBA even exist?” More to the point, why do I think it is so important that I am willing to volunteer a lot of my time to the Association?
Here are just two reasons:
Recently I received a “want match” from AbeBooks. We have all become inured to the far-too- common “may have underlining” in what passes for a book description, but this one had a phrase that caught my attention: “Damaged. . . . may contain excessive writing, cover wear, staining, mold or torn pages.” This is not what online bookselling should be! No responsible bookseller should be sending out books which “may have mold” — books which could endanger the health of anyone who handles them.
IOBA, thankfully, exists to stand up against this blatant disregard for best bookselling practices, and for the rights of customers. IOBA’s members cover the entire spectrum of online bookselling, but they are unified in their belief that buyers are entitled to an honest description of what they are purchasing sight unseen, and in their concern for the future of bookselling itself. And I’m proud to be part of an organization that supports such sellers — not just by helping them say “here is the Code of Ethics I go by,” but also through providing education, scholarships, a discussion forum, and a supportive community to which they they can turn for help when needed.
The second reason: not long ago, a bookstore owner in Ohio lost virtually his entire inventory when a pipe broke in the floor above his store. An IOBA member posted the story of this catastrophe on the IOBA Discuss list, and members from all over the world came together to contribute books and money, to help this bookseller — not an IOBA member himself, by the way — recover from his disaster. Quite simply, it made me proud to be an IOBAn, and reminded me what a great group this can be.
As IOBA continues to grow, the more effective we will be in upholding “traditional standards” even as we adapt to the constant changes of the Internet and adopt new technologies, and the better able we will be to help one another when the need arises. I am fortunate this year in having a great team on the Board, but what really matters to IOBA are its members. Without them, IOBA is nothing. With all of us working together, we can become an organization that will be a real force in online bookselling.
Christine Volk & Shep Iiams, Booksellers
Bookfever.com P.O. Box 696, Ione CA 95640