Angela Bole assumed her role as executive director of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in July 2013, moving over from No. 2 in command at the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). As she rounds out her first year as the head of the largest publishing association in the U.S. with about 3,000 individual members, she took some time to speak with Digital Book World about her plans for IBPA and how independent presses, self-published authors and digital natives are all reshaping the marketplace.
Rich Bellis: What was it like transitioning from BISG, where you served as deputy executive director since 2009, and how were the first few months settling in at IBPA?
Angela Bole: It was a little bit of the best of both worlds. I had a lot of the same contacts coming over from a similar trade association in publishing, or at least a sister association. I still had a lot of the same people that I continue to work with, so that was really helpful.
But it’s a whole new market for me working with independent publishers and self-published authors, so there’s a learning curve as well. I’m still in the middle of it.
RB: What direction are you planning to take IBPA in order to continue to serve that market?
AB: IBPA has a long history. It’s been around for 30 years, and it’s one of the most trusted associations in publishing for independent publishers. It has a strong legacy, and that was really interesting to me coming in. Our focus now is just to strengthen the foundations even more: to look at the different programs that we’re running and make sure they’re relevant today—and they have been for many years—and to change some of them if we see that we need to do that to make sure they’re meeting our members’ needs.
Another thing that’s important to us right now is really understanding who our members are. So we launched a full-scale member survey in March, and we pulled results in that we’ll be analyzing this summer so we can start to tailor programs to different members’ needs.
RB: Without having done that yet, can you speculate on anything you’re likely to learn about the makeup of your membership?