Celebrating independent bookstores since 1981
We are a nonprofit trade association that supports and celebrates locally owned and operated independent bookstores and booksellers throughout a 9+ state portion of the Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula). We work directly with booksellers and the people who do business with them: publishers, wholesalers, distributors, sales reps, and others allied to the book industry. We strive to do the following. Produce programs and events that help independent bookstores and booksellers grow their knowledge base and their bottom line Provide an environment for booksellers to maintain relationships and learn from one another throughout the year Facilitate an ongoing forum for our industry members (publishers, wholesalers, distributors, sales reps, and others allied to the book industry) to connect to independent booksellers in our region Celebrate and promote the innate value of independent bookstores, book culture, and local economies We are governed by a seven-member board of directors that includes five booksellers and two representatives from the book industry. Board members serve three-year terms, while our four officers (president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary) serve two-year terms. Our paid staff includes an Executive Director and Program Specialist.
We envision a region full of communities with thriving, vibrant independent bookstores.
We advance the success of independent bookstores, foster partnerships that create a strong bookselling and publishing community, and celebrate the vital literary culture of our region.
Don Blyly of Minneapolis' Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edward's Mystery Fiction Bookstore was kind enough to recount the origins of our association.
In the summer of 1980, ABA put together a workshop in Chicago on organizing regional bookseller organizations. At that time, I owned Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and Books Galore, a full-line shopping mall store. I was the only person from Minnesota who went. When I came back from the workshop, I called other local bookstores to get them interested, but didn’t find a lot of enthusiasm. I also talked up the idea with the local sales reps, and they were all very enthusiastic about the idea, and they suggested that it would be better if they pushed the idea on other bookstore owners, rather than having the idea come from a competitor. Cissy Tiernan (who was then the Ballantine rep), Wayne Farr (who was then the Harper rep), and Ray Jay (who was then the Pocket Book rep) talked up the idea with all the independent bookstore owners they sold to, and we had an organizational meeting in the fall of 1980 at the Lincoln Deli that used to be in St. Louis Park just across the border from Minneapolis. Bookstore owners from several local stores, one from Duluth, and one from Iowa showed up, and we all agreed to start the Upper Midwest Booksellers Association. We incorporated in 1981, filed nonprofit paperwork with IRS in 1981, and held our first trade show in the fall of 1981."
Historically, MIBA has been governed by a 7-member board of directors. In the 2020 nomination season, we are expanding to a 9-person board of directors to add diverse perspectives and improve our cultural representation.
On our 9-member board, 7 directors are booksellers (owners, managers, or frontline staff) and two of our directors are non-booksellers (i.e., book industry members). The officer positions are president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.
Our nominating committee (which is established at our June board meeting if it isn’t already in place) engages with our membership to put forward eligible candidates, review the submitted nominees, and make their recommendation to the board.
In August or September, the nominating committee begins accepting nominations for booksellers to join the board. The number of positions open is determined by the number of board members completing their second three-year term (each board member is entitled to serve two three-year terms) and are thus ending their years of service. Whether the board member terming out is a bookseller or industry member will be carried forward and we will solicit new candidates accordingly.
Nominations (including self-nominations) for qualified candidates are collected through September or October. Those who meet the eligibility criteria receive a link to fill out an extended background information form and provide references.
Board member candidates are reviewed for a number of diverse factors, including geography, demographics, type of bookstore, and cultural representation. The selected nominees are put forth to the membership for voting and the results are shared at our annual meeting.
If you have questions about this process, please email either our executive director, Carrie Obry, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our board president, Kate Rattenborg, at email@example.com
- Bookseller directors: Candidates must be the owner or employee of an independent bookstore with a storefront location operating according to sound business principles. (Location-independent bookstores will also be considered.)
- Industry directors: Candidates must be actively employed by one of our book industry members, typically a publisher, wholesaler, or rep group.
- Board candidates must have enough recent experience as an owner or employee of a member company in order to contribute substantively to furthering our mission.
- Board candidates exhibit qualities of leadership and creativity, have a strong reputation for integrity and character, be willing to carry out various assignments, and be dedicated to the association’s mission and objectives.
- All candidates must operate a bookstore or book industry company within our portion of the Midwest--Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Important Details to Note
- Typically, our board members are eligible to serve two three-year terms. We are willing to consider shorter-term board appointments if it make sense for the candidate.
- Our board meetings have traditionally occurred four times per year: January, March/April, June, and October (during the trade show). Due to COVID, we are conducting virtual board meetings throughout 2020 and intend to host more of our meetings online in 2021 (i.e., not all four meetings will be in person).
- Directors do not receive compensation for their services but are reimbursed for authorized expenses, including travel and lodging for all of our meetings, which includes the annual trade show.