Minutes of the MWABA Board Meeting, Sunday, December 2, 2018
The meeting was called to order at 10:53 a.m.
Present were M. Sylvia Castle, Peter Dast, Jeannie Hoff, Chris Rohe, Jay Platt, Paul Garon, Hank Zuchowski, Tom Lyons, Kurt Gippert, John Phillips, Pat Martinak, and Mark Larson on the phone. Rachel Edsill and Steve Kirshenbaum were out of town and unable to attend.
The Secretary’s minutes from the Dec. 2017 meeting were accepted.
The President’s Report
Hank Zuchowski thanked Kurt for the use of his offices for our board meeting. He also thanked Chris Rohe and Jeannie Hoff for all of the work they have done on past Chicago book fairs, and growing the fair to be so successful. Additionally Jeannie was thanked for her many years as coordinator. Chris Rohe had indicated last year that he would like to retire as book fair manager, and Jeannie also wished to retire from the coordinator role.
Hank then proposed Rachel Edsill for the positions of Chicago book fair manager, and MWABA coordinator. Rachel is the daughter of board member Steve Kirshenbaum, owner of Looking Glass Books in Oak Park, Illinois. Rachel has worked with her father in the bookstore, and has attended the Chicago book fairs as an exhibitor with her father. She has also worked with her father on the Oak Park Library book sale for twenty years, and helped organize a team of 50 volunteers for that event. She had been approached previously about these positions within MWABA and had indicated her interest.
The Board agreed that Rachel would be a good candidate for these positions. On the matter of compensation for these positions, the previous rate of $4000 for book fair manager, and $1000 for coordinator were to be offered. There might be the opportunity in the future in the coordinator’s position to earn more if additional duties were taken on.
Chris Rohe was preparing a chronology of book fair duties to pass on to Rachel, and would offer her any additional assistance she might like during this transitional period.
for 2018 was passed out by Jay Platt, treasurer. Our Chicago Fair earned $1,693 and our Twin Cities Fair lost $1,462. Overall, the organization made a little money in 2018, about $582. The balance in our treasury as of November 30, 2018 stood at $8,938. It was noted that the directory about pays for itself, with the additional money collected for the ads placed within it.
Other ideas for increasing revenue included soliciting ads from ViaLibri, Amazon, etc. Google-ads, banners on our web-site—although we would have to decide if we want ads to appear on our web-site.
The President noted that as a non-profit we’re not in the business of making money for MWABA, but it would be nice to have a cushion, and to have extra money to spend on advertising for book fairs.
The Board re-elected Pat Martinak as Secretary, Jay Platt as Treasurer, and Hank Zuchowski as President for another term of office.
Kurt Gippert, Membership chair, said that we had gained three new members, but lost one former one. There was a suggestion that a flyer of the benefits of MWABA membership could be prepared and handed out at book fairs. There is a need to recruit new members. The board voted to keep dues the same, and to print about 500 copies of the membership directory, as that amount seems to be adequate for the year.
Peter Dast, By-laws chair, reported that there were no changes, the organization was still in compliance.
Book Fair / Chicago
Chris Rohe reported that Plumbers Hall rent went up by $400, and going forward there will probably be an electrician’s fee, although in years past we didn’t usually incur one. A slight booth fee increase will be needed. There was a motion and vote to increase the booth fee by $25 a table.
At about 53 dealers and 131 tables for this past fair, the first floor in the Plumber’s Hall is maxed out. The hope is to keep bookseller’s tables on the ground floor, and any expansion, say in post card dealers, or book marblers, would be placed on the second floor.
Chris also noted that few book fair “dollar-off” postcards are returned at the entrance; however there is the question whether people are seeing and keeping the postcards as a reminder, but just failing to bring them along to get the dollar off admission. There seemed to be a reluctance by board members to stop using the postcards altogether.
The dealer social event after set-up was a big success, and was largely paid for by the Midwest Chapter of the ABAA.
Book Fair/ Twin Cities
The Twin Cities Book Fair of 2018 had 45 dealers exhibiting. More attendees came through the gate in 2018 than the previous year: 187 on Friday and 582 on Saturday, A fair number of dealers booked only one or two table booths—this led to less income. Also, as a change from previous fairs, the 2018 fair did not charge an admission price on the 2nd day, at the suggestion of the fair management, Rain Taxi. 170 people paid $10 a piece on the first day.
Hank read the letter he had sent to the Twin Cities book dealers asking for their input on the future of the fair. We have lost money on that fair for the last few fairs. Hank had three responses. Kent Petterson suggested holding a local meeting to gather input. Midway suggested that MWABA move to a smaller venue with air conditioning, and raise booth fees. Book House suggested a local meeting, and survey of area dealers.
The last Twin Cities book fair was managed by Rain Taxi, an outside management group who puts on a book fair featuring new books every year in the Twin Cities. That fair is well-attended. Rain Taxi had re-branded the MWABA fair and re-named it “Print Matters”, which may have confused some long-time book fair attendees who were expecting an antiquarian book fair. Rain Taxi’s management of the fair did seem to attract many younger attendees, but they were not necessarily buyers.
Rain Taxi had predicted that they would at least break even putting on the MWABA fair, but instead the fair still lost money, although not quite as much as in 2017. Still, as Rain Taxi did not break even, and did not feel they could reduce their management fee (which is higher than we normally pay fair managers) as well as apparently failing to increase the number of buyers at the fair, the board concluded that we should not retain Rain Taxi for managing the next fair, as MWABA cannot continue to sustain losses.
Various ideas for reducing costs for the Twin Cities fair were discussed. Moving to another, smaller venue was a possibility (with air conditioning being a plus) but no such cheaper facility has been identified as yet—and most other known facilities do not have free parking available, such as the fairground offers. Moving from the fairgrounds might also lose /confuse customers who have been attending the fair at that location for many years.
Decisions need to be made about a venue and date soon if there is to be a 2019 Twin Cities fair. Mark Larson was on the phone and said he was going to try to arrange a meeting of Twin Cities dealers for ideas about the fair going forward.
The meeting was adjourned at about 4:30 p.m.