Spring 2000 (Vol. I, No. 1) Table of Contents
IOBA is set up to be a smooth running and efficient forum and process for receiving member originated ideas and inputs and implementing the necessary legalities and organizational decisions. In theory.
Committees receive and conceive of new ideas and needs within their area of authority, work them out into a proposal and sendthem up to the Board, which reviews and can either send the proposal back if we have questions about some of it before we feelcomfortable with taking it for action or if it’s ready to go, discussing it and putting it to a vote and either approving it by the vote or rejecting it.
The Board handles administrative burdens, legal compliance issues, annual reports, documentation, over-sight duties and long-range planning. Occasionally, these areas result in something which needs committee input and work, and we generate a tasking or project and pass it down through the Chairman of that committee to get that. Each side of the house, the Board, and the Committees, have enough on their plates to keep them busy.
What has happened, and no great secret or mystery here, is that IOBA has been starting up. This has placed a whole lot of one-time researching and legal type duties on the Board to work on, and we haven’t had the time to work on explaining the process of change in the association, the importance of the committees, the critical need for member involvement in the building process. But, this is a vicious circle. Without adequate committee input and support, what happens is that the Board itself spends an awful lot of time doing committee work to support this Chairman’s tasking or that Chairman’s project, and it bogs things down.
We have put out calls throughout the past few months for help, and gotten some lifesavers stepping forward from the membership to volunteer. They’ve surfaced, worked a project and then vanished after their research is done. George Williford comes to my mind as I type this, and his work running down details with U-Line, who remains a top-runner as a supplier of mailing materials as Membership finishes up checking out other leads. I expect members will soon see U-Line being offered to them as an option to check out for discounts in future, thanks to George’s early work for us all. George regrettably hasn’t had the time to work with a committee fully, but he took a project and ran with it. He has also always been there as a friendly sounding board for me personally when I needed quick feedback on a thought or idea I was mulling over on my own.
Jean McKenna continues to knock my socks off with her work on updating and developing our definitions page from their original rough draft state on the site and she is coming up with a much more useful approach for the association in information and resources for this important area. I think you’ll be impressed when you see the final form of it. These members deserve a hearty pat on the back for doing so much with little guidance and support, and sometimes even less recognition. There are many others hard at work right now, too. The Ethics workgroup is hopping right now and includes some of our most knowledgeable members.
Things are changing, shifting gears, for IOBA. You have been the most awesomely supportive and patient bunch of folks I have ever worked with, through these long days of the interim board, which finally was able to wade through and research and learn enough to come up with our form basically and guide IOBA through incorporating last November. Like most of the members, that group began as just bookies, who didn’t know what the job would include but plunged in to learn and try. I’m damned proud of them for that. Now, the first elected full board has been at work for the four months since then, taking things from there and working on the basics, the deadly boring details but which are critical for a solid foundation for a real Trade Association that can last and be taken from the point we leave it and strengthened further.
But, as we finish up our work, which has often left the main member list silent for weeks on end, and sometimes surely had you wondering if anyone was home here :o), the focus changes. The Committees rise in critical importance for the association, and MUST be developed and recruit core members who are willing to get in there and learn one part of IOBA-land intimately well. We hope to see a large increase in membership in future. It must have leadership and management in place to join up with and gain by, and the Board is only part of that. Actually a small part, if the committees are developed correctly, and this is our next major internal need and goal.
Most businessmen and women don’t have time to offer which is not put to good use they can see and for a purpose they do not see a clear goal and importance for. George is like that, he is super, brilliant, but pressed for time. He was happy to run down and nail down one thing he knew was good for us all to gain and he did it. We have a whole lot of needs like that, narrow areas which need commitment from a few members to get in, learn it well and stick with it so that come next January when new board members get elected there is fundamental continuity and a core of expertise the new board can rely on for the sake of IOBA.
The Finance Committee is a big one we need a committed few to get into and learn about the reports and requirements we must put out periodically, the income, the outgo, the budget considerations, the costs, the process, why this option was chosen, why that was not. It takes commitment, but not huge amounts of time daily or even weekly, given a solid core team willing to focus on one critical area for the association.
Finance might be a good example but all the committees are the same. Maybe your list has been quiet too long, if you’re on a committee now. Maybe you don’t feel you’re doing anything. Maybe you need to post to it yourself and stir up signs of life. Your Chairman will reply (after getting over the shock in some cases). We’re all just bookies here, gang, not expert asociation managers. We have to learn too. We have to learn who is a builder and can be relied on, to delegate, to communicate more effectively, spot and recruit those who have a talent and willingness for a need we all have. It’s a two-way street.
Right now, the Board is working the Annual Report, getting the information to our CPA to start the process of applying for non-profit status from the IRS, and working with the attorney we’re hoping to appoint as IOBA’s General Counsel formally when we work out some details we’re checking on now. Most anything else I could say we’re working on (and it’s a lot I could say) is actually committee work, and should be there, and would be there, if we can develop that from among the membership. So, please, if you wish you knew more about what the heck is going on, come on in to your own association. If you wonder how in the world we came up with the new dues, get into the Finance Committee and work on the process towards next year.
IOBA will ultimately only be for you what you make of it. Your Boardmembers feel that when the day comes we have little but routine boring stuff to rubber stamp in meetings and little else to do, because the comittees and members are running full tilt for the goals we all share, we’ll have done our job and it’s a good day for bookies everywhere. What do you want IOBA to be? What do you want IOBA to offer you? Come on and make it happen. You’re “it”.
We’re still in the midst of a lot of our projects, but are very close to getting some of them finalized.
1) Health Insurance: We’re hopefully going to be signing a contract next month with a company that supplies insurance to ABA and other large groups (although we are doing some last minute investigating of another possibility, just to make sure we get the best deal possible). If this goes through okay, we will have a page on their site for our members to sign up, get questions answered, etc. It has been a real search trying to find a company/agency where we can have members in all 50 states covered. The health insurance business was deregulated which means that coverage and premiums for non-employer/employee plans are different in each state and, also, that most companies do not offer insurance in all 50 states. This company works with about 40 companies to make it possible. It will be a branded” IOBA insurance plan, with all types of coverage available (catastrophic, medicare supplemental, long term disability, etc.). Were in the process of having the coverage reviewed now.
2) Inventory Insurance: We are working with two companies on this: Collectors Insurance Co. and the company we’re talking to about health insurance. We’ll go with whichever proves to be the best coverage for the money. Should be finalized in April.
3) Credit Card Server for Members: This is still on the backburner but Novus seems to be the best. With PayPal and X.com, the need has lessened, but it is still something we are exploring and will work on in April.
4) Discounts For Supplies: We’re researching several online office supply companies to see if we can get cheaper prices than each of us can obtain locally.
5) Travel Discounts: Still on the backburner, as a low priority item. We are talking to National and Alamo, however.
6) Publisher’s Weekly Discount: We’ve arranged a $119 price for this (discounted from $189). Further discounts will depend on the number of IOBA subscriptions.
7) Book Boxes: We’re talking to Uline now, who has offered us substantial discounts (25-40%), plus mailing costs would not be so great as they have several warehouses scattered around the country. Should be finalized in April. We may still want to explore the company Alyce has talked to about an “ideal” specially manufactured book box depending on if we can order enough to get the cost down (or the possibility of several of us splitting a Post Office order of their #1 priority boxes).
8) Membership qualifications, categories, and the application have been redefined, and are on the IOBA site now. Also founder/charter terminology clarified.
9) We’ve recommended a dues increase to the Board, based on expected expenses in the next year and few months, and based on what benefits and services IOBA will soon be offering members.
10) Some committee members are working on suggested changes to our grading and description definitions. Should be ready for review in April.
11) We’re working on what to include in new member packets, to help newcomers feel welcome and acclimate quickly.
12) We’ll soon be putting a page on the site with offers of discounts from various vendors.
Shirley Bryant – Membership Chair
Some amendments under consideration by the board, addressing issues such as:
1) membership referendum
2) options for board decision-making via methods other than in-contact meetings (e.g., unanimous email votes substantiated with written documentation filed by the Association’s Secretary)
3) provision for advisory positions to the board (specifically, a non-contract legal advisor)
Vic Zoschak – Bylaws Chair
Finance Committee Report
Finance has been busy with the budget and initial start up procedures. Our treasurer has done an outstanding job of foreseeing the future revenues, Thank you, Julie Fauble! After much debate and discussion the board approved the new dues structure. Our initial start up dues have brought us to the point of offering the search engine for IOBA members, now we ask all of you to help us make this a successful program through our increase in dues. For the level of benefits and developing programs you will be receiving we feel this is a fair increase. This is a very exciting time and Finance will be responsible for the financial health of our association.
Finance will present our expenditures and revenues to the IOBA website on a quarterly basis. We will see how our budget projections will develop and will have a model to follow by the end of the year.
The Finance Committee will be investigating ways to invest IOBA’s reserve funds (should we have some) to equal six months worth of operating expenses. We need to have the funds available for a cushion to protect unforeseen expenses and/or to develop new programs or services.
Finance will be an instrumental part of advertising, membership drives and fund raising. We will be presenting our recommendations on funding to the board and will be responsible for required financial reports.
If you are interested in helping the Finance Committee please send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie and I will look forward to adding your ideas and feedback. See you in cyber Finance land!
Sally Hollingsworth – Finance Chair
Education Committee Report
Planned are a continuing series of articles by various members sharing information in many subject areas. These articles will appear in the IOBA Standard. Anyone with expertise in particular areas is most cordially invited to submit articles to the Education Committee. Your articles will be very welcome.
Internet Operations Committee Report
The Internet Operations committee is in charge of all of IOBA’s technology. We maintain the website, the mailing lists and now the server since we’ve gone to a dedicated server.
We have several projects in the works right now:
Derek L. of Interim Books has been developing a very nice little webring system. This should be operational shortly. If you don’t know what a webring is, it’s a system of links that allows surfers to move from site to site through the ring. If they follow the ring far enough, they will come back to the first site they visited… thus a “ring”. The ring is centrally controlled from the IOBA website, so that only members will be able to participate.
Luke Lozier has promised to begin work on the members database which will replace the member page (which has gotten much too long, and consequently slow to load). The database will allow searches of the membership for name, location, specialty etc.
A trademark symbol has been added to all of the graphics on the website. This is to protect our logo. Those of you who have added a linkon your website to the IOBA should replace the graphic with a fresh version. These are available to members at http://www.ioba.org/logotest.html
Those of you who are not on the search engine yet, or who would prefer to have your inventory searched at a different location should send requests to Lera Lamme email@example.com. Please use “IOBASearch” in the subject line so she can filter the messages properly. She will be organizing these requests so that I can add them to the engine in an orderly way. Each addition takes an average of about an hour for me to process if done individually, so this is a necessary step to streamline the process.
We are sorely in need of a volunteer who is comfortable with html, and can do some of the website maintenance chores. If any of you would like to take this on, please let me know.
Internet Operations Chair
Check out the Independent Online Booksellers Association Website