Saturday, March 26, 2005


It is time for me to renew our company's membership in the Publishers Marketing Association. Each year on the renewal date I assess exactly what I get from PMA and what the organization does for the industry.

Not too long ago I read a post by Andrew Martonyi on the Pub-Forum listserv about the PMA and its total lack of commitment to changing things on an industry-wide scale:

################ Don't we pay dues and doesn't that give us a voice in an organization that we join to help us in our publishing endeavors?

I have yet to understand why the PMA refuses to stand up and exert the power that it surely has. Where are the protestations [about returns, etc.] of the Executive Director? Where are the howls of protest from the president and the PMA board? ################

This is what bothers me abut the PMA.

Yes you pay the dues. But PMA (along with the support of many ex-board members) has never allowed direct nomination nor direct election of any official postion in the organization.

If you wish to be nominated you can't. If you wish to run you can't. All positions are selected in a closed door session by those who were selected previously.

At the "annual meeting" there is no new business allowed, there is no financial report, there is ONLY a voice vote of yea or nay for/against the selected slate of directors.

The directors choose the officers in a closed door meeting. Nothing happens at all without Jan Nathan's direct consent.

I fought for years to "open up" PMA but old-guard board members and officers like past-president Nick Weir-Williams, as well as others always say that "So what if we DID have elections? How would that change anything?"

My answer is that if someone like myself was president of the organization a hell of a lot would change... and that has to be PMA's biggest fear... that someone like "me" would have an official platform from which to speak. However, I've never been able to convince enough publishers to help stage a "take-over" of the PMA.

The PMA is a "get along/go along" group. And since I'm not one known for "going along" it's understandable that not ONCE in all the years that I've been a member have I ever been asked to present anything, be on a panel, or even be asked for my input for anything about PMA University (or the PMA for that matter.) (In fairness, they have published two or three of my articles.... mainly because they were really GOOD articles... which is the right thing to do.) Take a look at the program for this year's PMA-U. You won't find anyone like "me" on the roster!!

PMA is not evil. It's fine for what it is. Don't read this as a Dean-scream rant. It's not. It's just the facts.

Look at the PMA for what it really is: An organization run by one well-meaning family with a "hand-picked" board of a well-meaning group of successful publishers who really don't want the system to change. Yes I'm a member, but ONLY so I can exhibit at the PMA-U ... which is ONE of two good things that PMA really does.

The other thing PMA is great at is "delivering" member-dollars (your dollars!) to vendors (like me).

This is not a secret. Every vendor knows it. The PMA "sells" itself that way to the vendor community. And they don't lie. PMA is that easiest/best/cheapest way to market to small publishers. It's a win-win for everyone.

If I didn't have to be a member to exhibit or advertise, I don't think I would join because I just don't see the PMA standing up for publisher's interests... as opposed to those of the vendors like myself, the distributors, the designers, and, of course, Ingram (whom PMA used to subsidize with membership dues.... ask Jan Nathan (Executive Director) to explain it.. it's all old news.)

If Jan Nathan wanted to, she could lead the fight to change the "return system." Pat Schoroder, head of AAP and her two hundred members would listen to Jan and her 4,000. A dialogue could be started... change could happen. Maybe not overnight, but at least over a period of time. I wonder how things would be now if the PMA became 'active' when I said all of this the first time... five years ago.

Think about this for a minute.

The by-laws of the PMA stipulate that a special meeting can be held if enough members get together and call it. TTBOMK it has never happened. But I often have sweet dreams about what might be possible if it did. Can you imagine what we could do?

Ask yourself is THIS is the reason the PMA keeps their by-laws under lock-and-key on their site such that a special password is necessary to view them?

Twice each month someone writes to me and asks that I start a new organization dedicated to helping change the publishing industry (hopefully for the better!) I've thought and thought and thought about it and I'm as convinced today as I was five years ago that taking over the PMA is the best way to do this. And I'll bet that a committee (some would call it a cadre!) of twenty hearty souls willing to organize the effort could make it happen. It's all in the by-laws.

PMA, its infrastructure, and all the legitimacy and power that it has, is there for the taking. It's just a matter of will.

Alan N. Canton, President Adams-Blake Company, Inc --- Adams-Blake Company provides the JAYA123 service to small businesses of all types. JAYA is an order-entry, billing, invoicing, inventory,royalty, and financial system used on the web ....nothing to download or install... and it cost all of $14.95 a month. "It's cool as a moose." Try the free demo at at: ---