SCIBA Members Vote to Dissolve Association
At the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association's annual meeting last Friday, held during the association's Fall Trade Show, member bookstores voted unanimously to approve a resolution that will dissolve SCIBA at the end of 2019.
The resolution, which the SCIBA board of directors passed earlier last week and announced on Tuesday, came about because of an earlier-than-usual look at the association's finances spurred on by talks with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association regarding forming a single, all-California association. Projecting SCIBA's finances into next year, explained president Maryelizabeth Yturralde of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and Creating Conversations, showed that the "viability of the organization" was "not sustainable."
"It's not a decision that we undertook lightly," said Yturralde. "But we feel that it is the way that we are meeting our financial responsibility to the organization."
Prior to an anonymous vote, Yturralde and SCIBA's other board members fielded questions about the association's finances, the merger and the resolution to dissolve the organization. On the subject of SCIBA's finances, Yturralde cited dwindling publisher support for the trade show and producing a combined holiday catalogue with the NCIBA as reasons why the association's income has declined. She also noted that the review didn't show zero income on the books, but enough to cover the association's obligations for the rest of the year as well as an audit. That way, the association can "close the books" while still "in good standing." Any balance left over, she added, will more than likely be transferred to another nonprofit such as the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
When asked about options other than dissolution, such as a reorganization, Yturralde answered that there wasn't "another way to get there," and there was no foreseeable "upswing that would get us where we need to be." She reported that some publishers would have only supported a single California trade show as early as next year and, given SCIBA's financial obligations, she continued, a merger between the two associations as such would not have been viable.
Several booksellers expressed concern with the possibility that given SCIBA's dissolution, association members wouldn't actually be voting on the new all-California entity, and that the ball would be in "NCIBA's court." While acknowledging that that would be the case, Yturralde and other SCIBA board members pointed out that the transition committee, made up of booksellers from Northern and Southern California as well as several publisher reps, will continue to do their jobs soliciting feedback from bookstores across the entire state and making recommendations.
Calvin Crosby, executive director of the NCIBA, reported that since April of this year the NCIBA has kept three seats on the board empty with the intention of filling them with booksellers from Southern California and added that the association is "anxious" to start filling those seats.
Looking ahead, Crosby said that the NCIBA will not dissolve and form an entirely new organization, but it will change and start outreach across all of California. With SCIBA set to dissolve at the end of the year, member bookstores are free to join on an individual basis, and one member of the transition committee who was present suggested that it shouldn't be viewed as just joining NCIBA, but as joining a "whole new organization." --Alex Mutter