Of Boards, Budgets, and Sustainability

Posted By: Brian F. O'Leary Announcements,

On April 23, BISG held its 45th annual meeting, hosting nearly 200 virtual attendees in a multi-session discussion dedicated to "Ensuring a Sustainable Future for the Book Business". During the meeting, BISG members also voted to approve terms for six board members (four new), a new board chair, and a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The six board members were elected to two-year terms, also starting July 1. In 2017, BISG changed its governance model to designate seats for six different industry segments. The change reaffirmed BISG's vision of solving problems that affect two or more parts of the supply chain.

This year, seats were open in four of the six segments (representatives for manufacturing and libraries are in the middle of their terms). With notes on the segments they represent, the six elected Board members include:

  • Paul Gore, FADEL (industry partner seat)
  • David Hetherington, knk Publishing Software (industry partner seat) *
  • Dan Kok, Crossway (publisher seat) *
  • Joe Matthews, Independent Publishers Group (distribution seat)
  • James Miller, Barnes & Noble (retailing seat)
  • Brooke Warner, She Writes Press (publisher seat)

David Hetherington and Dan Kok, marked with asterisks, are returning to the board for a second two-year term. Paul Gore, Joe Matthews, James Miller, and Brooke Warner will be new to the BISG board. All six members will be included in an orientation to take place before the new board year begins. The next meeting of the BISG board is scheduled to take place on July 22.

At the annual meeting, members also elected Kathleen Reid (Elsevier) as incoming chair of the BISG board. Reid, who has served as the board's vice chair since 2019, will follow Andrew Savikas (getAbstract), who has served as chair the past two years. Savikas becomes immediate past chair in July. Reid will recommend three members of the incoming board to serve as vice chair, treasurer, and secretary. With Reid and Savikas, this group of five will serve as the board's executive committee.

Four current members of the BISG are retiring this year, including Maureen McMahon, (Kaplan Publishing), Kempton Mooney (NPD Bookscan), Michael Rentas (Ingram), and 
Patricia Simoes (Rakuten Kobo). At the annual meeting, chair Andrew Savikas thanked these board members for their contributions, and executive director Brian O'Leary noted that BISG plans to thank each of these members for their service at the next in-person meeting of the membership.

O'Leary also delivered an overview of the past year at BISG, with highlights that included:

  • 187 members, up a net 17 in 2020-2021; up a net 49 since Jan 2017
  • 30 webinars, 5 programs in 2020; pace continues in 2021
  • Continued progress against charters, which are posted on BISG web site
  • BISG is part of a $1.2 million Mellon grant to develop a data trust for OA ebook analytics
  • Published rights ROI research project
  • Immersive reading study with Portland State
  • Operations manager Jonathan Fiedler hired

Before presenting a budget recommendation for FY2022, O'Leary also shared the audited and project financial results for FY2017 - FY2021. He noted that BISG expects to show a positive result for the fifth consecutive year, a period during which the organization has rebuilt reserves, funded research, and offered a robust content plan averaging more than 30 in-person and online events each year.

The budget for FY2022, which was approved by BISG members, expects a 2.9% decline in overall revenue, largely the result of grant revenue ending in the current fiscal year. Membership revenue is expected to grow by 6.3%, while expenses are projected to stay about the same, with the return of travel offset by the absence of grant-related spending. A modest positive contribution is budgeted for the coming year.

While the theme of the meeting was the sustainability of the industry, the past year also demonstrated the sustainability of BISG at a turbulent moment for our industry. Through the pandemic, membership grew by 10%, reflecting the organization's ability to deliver value while working remotely. Its committees and working groups continued to meet regularly, research was completed and published, and the all-virtual delivery of three dozen events addressed a range of industry issues at a time when connections were most needed.

No organization is guaranteed a future, and BISG (like any other industry association) has to deliver value today and in the future to maintain its position. The past is not prologue. But, events like our annual meeting provide a chance to reflect on what we've done well, and what we have yet to do. Over time, BISG has found ways to reaffirm its relevance, and we'll continue to do that in the year to come.