With the appointment of new executive director Andrea Vuleta in January, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association is looking forward to the implementation of changes that will strengthen and rejuvenate the regional association. “We don’t want to be forgotten in the national market, and with Andrea now on board, we’re confident that we’ll be able to increase SCIBA’s presence, especially with the publishers,” said president Mary Williams, events director for Skylight Books in Los Angeles. “It’s already clear that Andrea will sit well with the board. She’s detail-oriented, very organized, and a real pleasure to work with.”
Vuleta, who managed Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Bookshop in LaVerne, Calif., for six years prior to accepting the position with SCIBA, has already engaged the group’s members through regular e-mail communication and twice-monthly newsletters, rather than the less frequent contact of the past. Her priority is to visit every member bookstore over the next several months to meet both owners and employees, gathering information about what the stores require of SCIBA, what they like about the organization, and what could be done better or differently. “Electronic questionnaires aren’t as effective as in-person meetings, and Andrea is looking forward to making real connections,” Williams said.
Jennifer Bigelow, the former executive director who resigned last November, held the position for 13 years, making this a significant transition for SCIBA. The board is eager to use the change as an opportunity to reshape some of the basic aspects of the association’s purpose. The first board meeting under Vuleta’s supervision resulted in a number of ideas to implement in 2013, including the decision to reformat the Author Feast and Trade Show so that it is more tailored to different aspects of SCIBA members. To that end, a half-day will be devoted to children’s events and education, beginning with a breakfast for teachers, librarians, and authors, followed by seminars and panels about children’s books. The Authors Feast and awards program, traditionally held at the end of the one-day regional fall show, will move to the night before. “This will be a great way to kick off the events of the next day,” said Williams. “We’ll also add a cocktail hour at the start of the trade show.”
SCIBA is usually the last regional association to have its trade show in the fall, but that too will change significantly this year. It will be held a month earlier, on September 27–28, the location to be determined.
“We also want to entice stores to place more orders at the trade shows,” said Williams. To do this, the SCIBA board will elicit bigger sales incentives from publishers, with the aim of motivating booksellers to buy at the show. “We want to repay publishers and our reps for their support of SCIBA over the years,” Williams said. “Our hope is that additional show specials will result in increased sales for them, and better deals for our members.”
SCIBA’s spring meeting will be held on April 9. At that time, Vuleta and Williams will announce a new incentive for nonboard booksellers to increase their membership involvement by volunteering for the organization’s first advisory committees, which will focus on education and events. Another important issue to be discussed is the SCIBA Web site, which will be completely redesigned within a year or so.