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IBPA’s Strategic Plan Sets Goals for Membership, Advocacy, and Eliminating Bias

Wednesday, August 26, 2020   (1 Comments)
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Members of the IBPA Board of Directors during its August 2020 meeting. Row One, L to R: Karen Pavilicn (Elva Resa Publishing), Angela Bole (IBPA CEO), Karla Olson (Patagonia Books, IBPA Chair), Kathy Strahs (Burnt Cheese Press, IBPA Secretary), Kelly Peterson (Independent Publishers Group). Row Two, L to R: Kristina Radke (NetGalley), Lee Wind (IBPA Director of Marketing), Maggie Langrick (LifeTree Media), Peter Trimarco (Noteable Kids Press), Richard Lena (Brattle Publishing, IBPA Treasurer). Row Three, L to R: Rob Broder (Ripple Grove Press), Rudy Shur (Square One Publishers), Seth Dellon (Publishers Weekly), Terry Nathan (IBPA COO), Tieshena Davis (Publish Your Gift). Row Four, L to R: Victoria Sutherland (Foreword Reviews magazine). Not Pictured: Lindy Ryan (Black Spot Books) and Christopher Locke (IBPA Member Liaison).

(Manhattan Beach, CA - August 26, 2020) -- During a 2-day meeting held August 20-21, 2020, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Board of Directors reviewed and reaffirmed the association's Strategic Plan for the years 2020 through 2022.

The plan, first developed in August 2019 during a 3-day strategic planning session held in Redondo Beach, California, outlines goals and strategies in support of IBPA’s mission to lead and serve the independent publishing community.

As part of the August 2019 planning process, the board reviewed results from six years of IBPA member surveys (2014-2019) and honestly assessed the degree to which the association has stayed true to its stated mission, vision, and core values. The work’s overall purpose was to ensure IBPA is focused on opportunities that will help the association and its members thrive for years to come. 

Below is a summary of the 18-page plan.

IBPA Strategic Goals & Initiatives: 2020-2022

IBPA achieves its mission and vision and adheres to its core values through a commitment to a set of defined goals (broadly defined desired outcomes) that guide the association in building upon its successful 30+ year history. In order to achieve these goals, the IBPA Board of Directors and staff created the following strategic goals and actionable initiatives.

Goal #1 – Serve current members.

Goal Statement: IBPA membership is deemed valuable and beneficial to a broad range of organizations and individuals.

Strategic Initiatives:

  • 1.1. Provide benefits and services to promote members’ visibility within the book industry.
  • 1.2. Provide educational opportunities to promote members’ professional growth.
  • 1.3. Provide networking opportunities to promote members’ community building and peer-to-peer education.
  • 1.4. Provide continual feedback opportunities for members.
  • 1.5. Identify opportunities for members to become financially viable, long-term.

Goal #2 – Add new members.

Goal Statement: IBPA membership is strengthened through outreach efforts, including outreach to those who are underrepresented within the association’s ranks and whose programs reflect diverse points of view.

Strategic Initiatives:

  • 2.1. Identify new markets for membership and develop plans for reaching them.
  • 2.1.1. Gather and use member feedback.
  • 2.1.2. Leverage existing IBPA community to recruit and retain members.
  • 2.1.3. Develop alternative entry points to full membership.

Goal #3 – Advocate for independent publishing.

Goal Statement: IBPA speaks with a unified voice on issues of concern to independent publishers as a means of supporting and strengthening the vital profession of independent publishing.

Strategic Initiatives:

  • 3.1. Celebrate “indie allies,” i.e., those associations, book review outlets, awards programs, etc. that professionally support independent publishing.
  • 3.2. Establish IBPA as a respected thought leader in independent publishing.
  • 3.3. Proactively identify issues of concern to independent publishers and establish meaningful campaigns to address them.
  • 3.4. Quickly communicate the association’s concerns and the steps taken to address them with members and the publishing community at large.

Goal #4 – Eliminate bias and enhance diversity.

Goal Statement: IBPA promotes equitable participation by all persons in the association and the profession of independent publishing.

Strategic Initiatives:

  • 4.1. Recruit and feature diverse populations in IBPA materials and programming.
  • 4.2. Liaise with diverse programs and populations to facilitate a connection to IBPA and the publishing industry at large.
  • 4.3. Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force of the board to develop IBPA’s strategic approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Critical Issues

The implementation of IBPA's Strategic Plan 2020-2022 coincides with unforeseen critical issues that have significantly impacted IBPA, its members, and the publishing industry. The IBPA Board of Directors recognizes the unusual circumstances it is operating in and reaffirms its focus on the strategic goals outlined within the plan while it adapts programs to support members during this challenging time.

Global Coronavirus Pandemic

In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a public health emergency of international concern. By March, alarming levels of spread and severity elevated the status of COVID-19 to a global pandemic.

Around the world: Hospitals reached overcapacity. Countries and states issued travel bans and stay-at-home orders. Schools moved to online learning. Nonessential businesses, restaurants, and places of worship closed to the public. Virtual meetings replaced in-person gatherings, professionally and personally. Unemployment soared, and the global economy plummeted into one of the deepest recessions in history.

IBPA members reported having to cut staff, delay publication dates, and close offices. An array of federal and state financial aid options and inconsistent restrictions varying by state added to business owners’ confusing menu of urgent decisions.

As members endured the effects of the coronavirus on their businesses and personal lives, IBPA renewed its commitment to providing as many resources as possible to IBPA members, as well as a forum for the independent publishing community to help one another.

IBPA developed an online COVID-19 Resource Center for Independent Publishers and weekly COVID-19 Member Roundtables to help members navigate business continuity options, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, and state and local small business assistance programs. In addition, IBPA extended membership expiration dates for all members by 3-months without charge.

Civil Unrest

Amidst already-intense emotional, economic, and health impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic, a graphic video captured in May 2020 of the police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis fueled renewed collective outrage and grief over systemic instances of hate, violence, and racism, and ignited a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the US and around the world.

IBPA responded to the Black Lives Matter protests on June 1, 2020 with a statement that read, in part:

“… At IBPA, we believe that building a world that is more equitable, just, and inclusive of people of color requires the stories, ideas, and contributions of a diverse field of publishers. We also believe that diversity in independent publishing is our strength and, explicitly, that Black Lives Matter. In this difficult moment, we reinforce our mission and vision, and stand with all of our communities against injustice and racism …”

Outcomes from the initial protests ranged from violent, destructive riots to peaceful, organized movements confronting enduring forms of racial discrimination, the removal of statues and other symbols with racist ties, and police reform.

The amplified racial tension and civil unrest also placed a magnifying lens on association and corporate behavior related to racial discrimination and an organization’s proactive policies and practices supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

With the implementation of the DEI components within this strategic plan already in process, IBPA reaffirmed its commitment to increase the diversity of its membership and ensure the inclusion of under-represented groups in its policies, programs, and publications.

Given the heightened sense of urgency created by this critical issue, the IBPA DEI Task Force hastened development of its DEI Strategic Plan by increasing the frequency of DEI Task Force meetings to weekly. A DEI Task Force Report with a summary of the plan’s progress is scheduled to be published in the weekly IBPA member e-newsletter following the August 2020 IBPA Board meeting as well as in the September/October 2020 issue of the IBPA Independent magazine.

Impact on Independent Publishers

These critical issues have significantly impacted IBPA, its members, and the entire publishing industry. Lost revenue, canceled programs, and shifting restrictions forced immediate changes to the way the association, independent publishers, and publishing partners operate, budget, and deliver products and services.

Some of the specific challenges include:

  • Canceled in-person events, such as trade shows, conferences, author events, customer programs, educational programs; IBPA Publishing University.
  • Transition to virtual events, including technology investment/learning curve, transitioning content, and promotion; IBPA Shelter-in-Place Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • Access to evolving information; IBPA COVID-19 Resource Center, Member Roundtables
  • Remote work; staff at home, virtual meetings
  • Disruptions in the industry, such as changes in the book review process, Amazon deprioritizing book sales, bookstores and libraries closed, emergence of Bookshop, printer delays, shipment delays
  • Economic impact on the industry, including changes in end-reader buying habits, distributors and wholesalers withholding payments, booksellers and suppliers going out of business

IBPA proactively responded by realigning resources to the most critical member support while working remotely with an adjusted budget and operational plan. At the same time, staff and volunteers executed innovative programs and community-building opportunities to help members survive the economic challenges and sustain ongoing operations in the uncertain new normal.

IBPA Independent magazine articles, webinars, and weekly e-newsletter content contain information, tips, and success stories to inform and encourage independent publishers as they navigate, innovate, and define the future of independent publishing.

Next Steps

IBPA has already begun bringing its current strategic goals and initiatives to fruition and looks forward to sharing additional ideas and programs over the next year and a half. As always, the IBPA staff and board of directors welcomes your thoughts and feedback.

IBPA members are invited to share within the comments section below or via email to IBPA CEO Angela Bole at

About the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

Founded in 1983 to support independent publishers nationwide, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) leads and serves the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. With over 3,600 members, IBPA is the largest publishing association in the US. Its vision is a world where every independent publisher has the access, knowledge, and tools needed to professionally engage in all aspects of an inclusive publishing industry. For more information, visit


Jo M. Mach, Finding My Way Books says...
Posted Friday, August 28, 2020
I feel so fortunate to be an IBPA member! Thank you for the thoughtfulness and commitment you put into the planning you do. I feel like I can attempt to be responsive to the many changes happening in our world thanks to your wonderful work. Jo Mach, Finding My Way Books

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