Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, founding v-p and publisher of Nashville-based nonfiction imprint Harper Horizon, will succeed Angela Bole as CEO of the Independent Book Publishers Association, effective November 1. Bole will stay on until the end of November, before starting her role as CEO of the Firebrand Group, a publishing technology company. Matt Baugher, senior v-p at Harper Select, will take over Fleck-Nisbet’s Harper Horizon responsibilities.

“I feel fortunate that Angela [Bole] is going to stay on for this month while we have this transition period together,” said Fleck-Nisbet, who spent 15 years at Workman Publishing and two years at Ingram Content Group before helping to establish Harper Horizon in 2019. Her immediate goals are “extending IBPA as a thought leader within our industry” and “looking at how can we help small independent publishers to run healthy businesses in terms of efficiencies and scale.” She foresees conversations around supply-chain issues, right-sizing inventories, returns policies, and partnering with retailers.

Bole cheered Fleck-Nisbet’s appointment while expressing pride in IBPA. During her nine years as CEO, Bole worked with the board of directors and membership to institute a committee structure, grow the membership, and invest in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. “I’ve appreciated building a community together,” Bole said. “We have an excellent staff and a dedicated board, and we’re strong financially despite lean times. We’ve made sure we had the money we needed to run new projects and initiatives,” among them hiring a DEI consultant and developing policies and definitions for ethical hybrid publishing.

Fleck-Nisbet underscored Bole’s support of DEI (“how do we create an industry that welcomes everyone in?”), sustainability, and efficiency. “We're at this inflection point where the technology has advanced in such a way that independent publishers have the resources to be able to reach their readers directly,” Fleck-Nisbet reflected. “Angela has done such an amazing job along with the board in setting core values, digging into the mission of the organization, and setting out goals in a strategic way. At a time where there's a lot of volatility, IBPA is in a wonderful place from a financial perspective and because of this foundation.”

Fleck-Nisbet comes to IBPA with substantial publishing experience. Although this will be her first nonprofit leadership role, she familiarized herself with IBPA while serving as Ingram’s director of content acquisition. “Ingram opened my eyes not only to how many independent publishers there are, but also to the depth and breadth and quality of their work,” she said. Her projects included “building out special programming for independent publishers” and exploring “how Ingram could help IBPA members to improve discoverability for titles in a competitive retail space.”

She also encountered “the spirit of independent publishing” at pre-Hachette Workman, where she started her career and advanced to executive director of digital strategy and operations. Early on, she was vacillating between publishing and a social work career when Peter Workman reminded her “that publishing and doing good works do not need to be mutually exclusive,” she recalled. “They can be connected, because you're arming readers with material that's going to improve their lives in one way, shape, or form.”

That same indie spirit guided her decision to join IBPA. Having spent 20 years in the industry, she estimated she had another “20 years left in my career. Where am I going to make the most impact?” IBPA’s offer, she said, “felt like a golden opportunity to roll up my sleeves and be part of something that would leave a legacy.”

IBPA will remain based in Manhattan Beach, Calif. and Fleck-Nisbet will work remotely from New York with regular trips to California.