By Marly Cornell, LightaLight Publications
Editor’s note: This blog post was inspired by Marly’s fruitful experience at the IBPA Pub-U conference, “Discoverability: How to Reach Your Reader and Sell More Books,” in April 2013.
Prior to becoming IBPA’s new executive director, Angela Bole served as deputy executive director (since 2009) of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which “fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business.” Before that, Bole served for two years as BISG’s associate director and two years as its marketing and communications manager, “furthering the BISG mission of creating a more informed, empowered, and efficient book industry supply chain for physical and digital products.”
Hired by BISG straight out of graduate school (NYU master’s program in book publishing), Bole worked her way up in the company. She refers to her seven years at BISG as a great primer for learning about publishing from every angle. BISG generates standards for the book industry, such as BISAC Subject Headings, creating efficiencies, structure, and electronic data formats.
Bringing Angela Bole to IBPA struck me as a visionary move. I made it a point to meet Angela after her Pub-U talk—to welcome her to IBPA and engage in some follow-up conversation. Bole takes the place of the retiring Florrie Binford Kichler. The transition brought Bole from New York City in July 2013 to the IBPA offices in Manhattan Beach, California, for three months to “learn the IBPA culture” on site. However, Bole said, “I have been interacting with IBPA for years. I knew the ‘beloved’ Jan Nathan [IBPA founder]. I watched her enter meetings with the ‘big 6’ publishers years ago—she advocated for and represented independent publishing almost by herself back then. It was obvious by her presentation that she believed her constituents were just as important as any of the big 6 [now 5] publishers.” Now, Bole is grateful for the mentoring and support from Florrie Kichler—a hardworking and strong leader. “Florrie was just what IBPA needed. She laid a wonderful foundation for me, helping me massively with this transition.”
Bole appreciates that IPBA already has a solid platform and a 30-year legacy in the publishing world—a boots-on-the-ground foundation. IBPA is open to embracing the rapid changes occurring in publishing. According to Bole, IBPA has always risen to challenges and is “willing to pivot—throw all the pieces on the table and assemble them in different ways. What an opportunity!” Now that technology has brought so many more to the table, Bole wants to assist in finding ways to make the business of publishing easier to understand for the growing number of authors and independent publishers bringing their books to market. She remains open to the exciting changes. “I love publishing; I love literature. The goal is quality work.”
Bole’s undergraduate degrees were in English literature and gender studies (Indiana University Bloomington). She is active in Women’s Media Group (WMG), a nonprofit New York-based association of women prominent in media fields. She described meeting and mingling with some “truly amazing women doing cutting-edge work.” Bole is inspired by the visionary Dominique Raccah, founder of Sourcebooks (the largest women-owned trade publisher in US) who was chair of the board of BISG for many years. Bole felt inspired also by the humor, beauty, bravery, and vibrancy of author Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. “I like women who are strange, cool, interesting.”
Bole served for five years as chair of Inner City Outings in New York City, a Sierra Club community outreach program that provides opportunities for urban kids to explore the natural world. Bole described how taking these kids out into the wilderness provides them with a “visual perspective” you can’t get in the inner city where the only visual perspective is the view down the block. “Seeing the vast space in the wild changes your brain chemistry, expands your concept of what is possible. The kids bring that back to the rest of their life. That connectedness to nature makes it easier to connect with people—break down barriers. The experience helps kids expand the same way that reading expands a person. It’s again about stories. I want to be part of that same kind of process at IBPA in a collaborative way.” For the past year, Bole has led weekend wilderness trips with Discover Outdoors (discoveroutdoors.com). She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and licensed New York State Wilderness Guide.
When the IBPA Board hired Bole, they did not require that she move to California. She will return to NYC in November and possibly travel back and forth as needed. When asked if she will eventually move to California, Bole said, “We’ll see. Life is long, and things change.”
Bole is aware of an East Coast/West Coast dynamic to publishing. The East is the epicenter of publishing historically. The West is more open, with a “new vibe” in terms of how one might get stories out. She offers an online example [http://www.cowbird.com/] of new ways to get stories out, some which combine formats—multimedia, text, photos, video, audio, etc. She likes it when people are thoughtful about what’s happening—that “bodes well for positive evolution.”
Though ebooks may be overtaking print books, Bole’s preference is print books. “I was raised on books with paper between covers, but my 18-year-old sister reads her books on a Kindle. More important to me than the format is keeping long-form immersive content, the full argument. I don’t want only sound bites. Putting content online is not the same as publishing. I want to stay immersed in the story—the 200-300-page story that teaches us about life—that takes some time to read and creates empathy in readers and offers meaning. I treasure that. We can chop up and serve stories differently perhaps; those hybrid choices are fine, but we should never lose long-form immersive content.”
For a taste of Angela Bole’s sense of humor, check out her current favorite YouTube video below. Thanks, Angela!
Marly Cornell is the author of The Able Life of Cody Jane (LightaLight Publications) www.theablelife.com